Putin says BRICS could help reach political settlement in Gaza conflict

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Tuesday 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 to a virtual BRICS summit, Putin once again blamed the Middle East crisis on the failure of U.S. 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.

The BRICS group includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It agreed in August to expand by adding Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates as members.

Russian and Western policy experts say Putin is trying to use the Gaza crisis to his geopolitical advantage as part of a strategy to court allies in developing countries and build what he calls a new world order to counter U.S. dominance.

In previous comments he has repeatedly attacked U.S. policy, urged Israel to show restraint and has expressed sympathy for the plight of Palestinians.

Last month he cautioned Israel against laying siege to Gaza in the same way that Nazi Germany besieged Leningrad during World War Two, saying a ground offensive there would lead to an “absolutely unacceptable” number of civilian casualties.

On Tuesday he said it was “terrible” that Palestinian children were dying in large numbers, adding that the sight of operations being performed on children without anaesthetics “evokes special feelings”.

“Due to the sabotage of U.N. 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.

(Reporting by Reuters, writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Gareth Jones)