Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attends a virtual BRICS Summit on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Gaza. Image Credit: UAE Presidential Court

Dubai: President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has reiterated UAE's call for protection of civilian lives, unrestricted humanitarian access and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“The international community has a great responsibility to pursue all efforts aimed at ending the conflict and achieving a fair and lasting peace,” Sheikh Mohamed told a virtual summit of the BRICS group held on Tuesday.

Pretoria is hosting the virtual meeting of BRICS — a group of major emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — aimed at drawing up a common response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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The group agreed in August to expand by adding the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt and Argentina as members.

At Tuesday's summit, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman demanded a serious start of comprehensive peace process to establish a Palestinian state along the borders of 1967.

Saudis urge countries to stop exporting arms to Israel

“The Kingdom’s position is constant and firm; there is no way to achieve security and stability in Palestine except through the implementation of international decisions related to the two-state solution,” Crown Prince Mohammad said.

The Crown Prince also called on all countries to stop exporting weapons to Israel.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, urged all parties in the Gaza conflict to immediately cease fire, end all attacks against civilians and release civilian detainees to avoid more loss of lives and suffering, according to Chinese state media.

It is also important to ensure the safe and smooth passage of humanitarian relief, expand humanitarian aid to people in Gaza, and stop the forced relocation and the cut-off of water, electricity and oil that targets people in Gaza, Xi said.

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin attending a virtual summit of the BRICS group of nations as Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the members. Image Credit: AFP

Xi called for an “international peace conference” to resolve the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“There can be no sustainable peace and security in the Middle East without a just solution to the question of Palestine,” Xi said, speaking through an interpreter.

“China calls for an early convening of an international peace conference that is more authoritative to build international consensus for peace,” he said.

Early solution

Such a conference would, Xi added, “work toward an early solution to the question of Palestine that is comprehensive, just and sustainable”.

“Since the outbreak of the latest Palestinian-Israeli conflict, China has been working actively to promote peace talks and a ceasefire,” he said.

Beijing, he said, “has provided humanitarian assistance to help ease the humanitarian plight in Gaza” and would continue to do so.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said regional states and members of the BRICS group of countries could be involved in efforts to reach such a settlement.

In televised comments, Putin once again blamed the Middle East crisis on the failure of US diplomacy in the region.

“We call for the joint efforts of the international community aimed at de-escalating the situation, a ceasefire and finding a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And the BRICS states and countries of the region could play a key role in this work,” Putin said.

He did not elaborate on how such an effort might be organised.

War crime: Ramaphosa

“Due to the sabotage of UN decisions, which clearly provide for the creation and peaceful coexistence of two independent and sovereign states - Israel and Palestine - more than one generation of Palestinians has been brought up in an atmosphere of injustice towards their people, and the Israelis cannot fully guarantee the security of their state,” Putin said.

Fighting has raged in Gaza after Hamas gunmen killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, during cross-border raids on October 7 - the deadliest attack in Israel's history.

In retaliation, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

According to Hamas, the war has killed more than 13,300 people, thousands of them children.

"The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the unlawful use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide," said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

South Africa has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party often linking it to its own struggle against apartheid.

Earlier this month, it recalled all its diplomats from Israel and last week it joined four other nations in calling for an International Criminal Court investigation into the conflict.

On Monday, Israel's foreign ministry said it had also recalled its ambassador to Pretoria for consultations. -- With inputs from AFP & Reuters