The South African Zionist Federation recently expressed its condemnation of South Africa’s increasingly antagonistic and discriminatory stance towards Israel, which has resulted in Israel’s decision to recall its ambassador, Arthur Belotserkovsky.
In response, Africa4Palestine, a South African NGO, welcomed the recall as a crucial step towards holding Israel accountable for its actions. As a result, both countries currently have no ambassadors representing them in each other’s nations.
This situation has drawn parallels to South Africa’s apartheid government, with Israel facing isolation on the international stage.
The Middle East crisis is now presenting the BRICS bloc with an important test of unity. BRICS leaders, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, are gathering for a virtual summit to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The summit will include the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, as well as the six countries admitted to BRICS in August: Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will also participate in the virtual meeting. The leaders are expected to adopt a joint statement on the situation in the Middle East, specifically Gaza.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to participate, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend. Instead, he will be represented by Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Although the official explanation is a scheduling conflict, there is speculation that India’s outlier position on the Middle East conflict may be the real reason for Modi’s absence.
India was the only BRICS member to abstain from a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a humanitarian truce and unhindered access to Gaza. India cited its refusal to support the resolution due to its failure to condemn Hamas for its attack on Israel in October.
Prime Minister Modi, in a recent virtual summit, stated that India condemned the attack on Israel and called for a restrained response along with dialogue and diplomacy. However, he also condemned the death of civilians in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Five of the six new BRICS candidate countries attending the virtual summit supported the UN General Assembly ceasefire resolution, with only Ethiopia and India abstaining.
Iran openly supports Hamas militarily and financially and has welcomed its attack on Israel. Therefore, it is unlikely that Iran will agree to any criticism of Hamas in the joint statement to be issued at the end of the BRICS summit.
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández, who is about to leave office, has confirmed his participation in the virtual summit.
However, it remains uncertain whether his successor, Javier Milei, will continue Argentina’s involvement with BRICS, as he expressed opposition to the country joining the bloc during his election campaign.
The recall of Ambassador Belotserkovsky has raised concerns among the South African Zionist Federation, with its chairperson, Rowan Polovin, stating that the government’s one-sided rhetoric and refusal to engage in dialogue with Israel have hindered South Africa from playing a meaningful role in ending the current conflict and any future peace efforts.
Polovin also expressed concerns about the impact of the government’s stance on the rights of Jewish and Christian South Africans and others with religious and spiritual ties to Israel, as well as the country’s international standing and economic interests.
The writer of this story prefers their identity to remain undisclosed due to the complicated nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and South Africa stands on the matter.