Remarks by EAM, S. Jaishankar at extraordinary joint meeting of BRICS in connection with the Israel-Gaza War
November 21, 2023
1-Let me begin by thanking President Ramaphosa for convening this extraordinary meeting. I speak for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who could not join us today.
2. We are gathered to discuss the deeply concerning situation in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Gaza. South Africa has rightly taken the initiative to convene the BRICS, and also to include those who would be part of the group in due course. I convey Prime Minister Modi’s greetings to all the leaders, virtually present.
3. The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza is causing immense human suffering, including to civilians, the elderly, women, and children. We welcome all efforts of the international community towards de-escalation. Right now, there is an urgent need to ensure that humanitarian aid and relief effectively and safely reach the population of Gaza. It is also imperative that all hostages are released. We believe that there is a universal obligation to observe international humanitarian law.
4. We are all aware that the immediate crisis was triggered by the terrorist attack of 7th October. Where terrorism itself is concerned, none of us should or can compromise with it. Hostage-taking is equally unacceptable and cannot be condoned. Subsequent developments have deepened our concern even more as we witness large-scale civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis. We strongly condemn any death of civilians.
5. Along with the need for restraint and immediate humanitarian support, India also emphasizes peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy.
6- Prime Minister Modi has spoken to several leaders in the region and across the world in this context. He has highlighted the need to create conditions for peace and restart direct and meaningful peace negotiations.
7. We believe that the concerns of the Palestinian people must be addressed in a serious and sustainable manner. This can only happen with a two-state solution that is based on peaceful co-existence. We have been consistently supportive of international efforts towards this end.
8. Over the years, India has supported the socio-economic welfare of the Palestinian people and strengthening of their national institutions. Our development partnership is geared towards these objectives. We continue to provide assistance both bilaterally and through the UN.
9. Our economic assistance to Palestine, developmental projects there and financial support to Palestinian Authority reflect our position. India remains supportive of the UN Relief and Welfare Agency‘s (UNRWA) (1) role and have been contributing USD 5 million annually.
10. In response to the crisis in Gaza, India has also sent 70 tonnes of humanitarian assistance including 16.5 tonnes of medicines and medical supplies. We thank Egypt for facilitating this delivery. Our relief assistance will continue.
11. The international community is today facing a very complex situation that has many dimensions. We have to address them all; and yet, have to prioritize. Our endeavour should be to both make a difference on the ground immediately while also creating conditions for lasting solutions. This exchange of views can be helpful in that regard and I thank South Africa once again for gathering us all at this difficult time.
Thank you for your attention.
(1) The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees. It’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict. It reports only to the UN General Assembly.