China Pitches Gaza Ceasefire with Islamic Delegation and BRICS

China Pitches Gaza Ceasefire with Islamic Delegation and BRICS
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The Lede: On Monday, China hosted a delegation from Islamic countries and called for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war as Beijing attempts to play a more prominent role in mediating the conflict. Additionally, the BRICS group of developing countries held a virtual summit on the war on Tuesday.

What We Know:

  • The Islamic delegation was led by the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. The group included the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian National Authority, and Indonesia, as well as the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Beijing was the first stop of an international trip to build support from the members of the United Nations Security Council for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi emphasized that Beijing intends to strengthen cooperation with Arab and Islamic countries to take meaningful action on the crisis. He also argued that the "fundamental cause" of the cycle of violence in the region has been that the international community has ignored the Palestinians' right to statehood. China advocated for a "two-state solution" as the answer for long-term peace. Wang also called for an international peace conference to work toward a solution
  • BRICS convened a virtual summit on Tuesday where the group discussed the ongoing conflict, but did not produce a joint declaration. Xi issued China’s recommendations that the parties to the conflict must achieve a ceasefire immediately and release civilians held captive, that humanitarian corridors must be secured for assistance, and that the international community must act with practical measures to prevent the conflict from spilling over and threatening stability in the Middle East region. In addition to Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the summit also was attended by leaders from the incoming members of BRICS. These include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Xi said that China had sent humanitarian assistance to Gaza, including $2 million in emergency funds through the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority and $2 million in food and medical supplies by way of Egypt.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on the phone on Monday. The leaders agreed that it is imperative to avoid an increasingly serious humanitarian crisis.

The Background: Earlier in the year, China brokered a détente between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It also hosted a visit by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in June and emphasized Beijing’s desire to act as a peacemaker. Among the main BRICS nations, Brazil and Russia have both proposed ceasefire resolutions in the UN Security Council. India is the only one of the main BRICS members to take a strong pro-Israel stand. South Africa and Israel have recalled diplomats from each others’ countries after South African parliament members voted to shut down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria. On Monday, South African Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni called for a warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

Likely Outcomes:

  • China’s outspoken stances and recommendations regarding the Israel-Hamas war demonstrates its efforts to take the alternative position to the U.S. as the leader of the Western global order. At the same time, Beijing also seeks to act as the leader of the Global South developing countries, which includes many Middle Eastern countries. To achieve this, China is expressing its support for Islamic countries in the Middle East and beyond that have been frustrated with Washington's staunch pro-Israel position on the conflict. China will likely continue to take contrary positions to the U.S. in international affairs as affiliations with third countries remain contentious in the competition between the superpowers. 
  • The Islamic delegation is set to travel to the other UN Security Council countries as well. Since mid-week, there have been tentative agreements regarding a temporary ceasefire in the conflict and a prisoner exchange. It remains to be seen how the delegation’s trips unfold and if they will affect change in the war. Although the BRICS group holds some sway among developing countries, many of which are regional neighbors around the conflict, its leverage is likley not significant enough to affect Israel’s war strategy or the West’s backing of Tel Aviv. However, declaring such positions on the conflict gives some credence to the BRICS group and the main member countries among pro-Palestinian elements. 


“The international community must act urgently, taking effective measures to prevent this tragedy from spreading. China firmly stands with justice and fairness in this conflict…“Israel should stop its collective punishment on the people of Gaza, and open up a humanitarian corridor as soon as possible to prevent a humanitarian crisis of a larger scale from taking place” - Wang Yi, foreign minister of China

"We look forward to a stronger role on the part of great powers such as China in order to stop the attacks against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, there are major countries that give cover to the current Israeli attacks." - Sameh Shoukry, foreign minister of Egypt

“I have emphasized on many occasions that the only viable way to break the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in a two-state solution, in the restoration of the legitimate national rights of Palestine, and in the establishment of an independent state of Palestine.” - Xi Jinping, president of China

Good Reads:

China calls for ‘urgent’ action on Gaza as Muslim majority nations arrive in Beijing (CNN)

China urges Gaza truce, says Islamic delegation shows 'trust' in Beijing (Nikkei) 

BRICS condemns Israel war on Gaza in signal to the West (Al Jazeera)

Israel-Gaza war: only a two-state solution can bring real peace, China president says in first public speech on conflict (SCMP)

Full text: Remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the extraordinary joint meeting of BRICS leaders and leaders of invited BRICS members on the situation in the Middle East with particular reference to Gaza (China Daily)