Security Council (archives)
Photo: AP

UN: US foils Libyan ceasefire proposal

Security Council members fail to agree on draft resolution on fighting between Israel, Hamas in Gaza. Another discussion, attended by Palestinian President Abbas and Arab foreign ministers, to be held Tuesday

WASHINGTON - The United Nations Security Council members failed Saturday night to reach an agreement on a draft resolution on the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip, after the United States torpedoed Libya's proposal for an immediate ceasefire.


The representatives are expected to convene again on Tuesday in a meeting which will be attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the foreign ministers of Arab countries.


At the end of an emergency meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, France's UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, the current council president, announced that there was no agreement on a statement though he said there were "strong convergences" among the 15 members to express serious concern about the deteriorating situation in Gaza and the need for "an immediate, permanent and fully respected ceasefire."


US Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week's council call for an immediate end to the violence. Therefore, he said, a new statement at this time "would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, would not do credit to the council."


I don't think it does the council any good ... to issue statements that aren't going to be observed," Wolff said. "Israel's self-defense is not negotiable."


British Ambassador John Sawers said he was "very disappointed" about the council's failure to agree on a statement during Saturday's 4-hour emergency meeting.


Riyad Mansour, the permanent Palestinian observer to the UN, said it was the council's responsibility to demand that Israel "stop this aggression immediately."


"Israel cannot continue to behave as a state above international law - this is the law of the jungle," he said.


Arab nations demanded that the council adopt a presidential statement calling for an immediate cease-fire following Israel's launch of a ground offensive in Gaza earlier Saturday, a view echoed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


Libya, the only Arab member of the council, had circulated a draft statement expressing "serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza, in particular, after the launching of the Israeli ground offensive" and urged all parties "to observe an immediate ceasefire."


Libya's UN Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi, the only Arab member of the council, said that during the closed council discussions on the proposed presidential statement, the United States said it objected to "any outcome."


He said efforts were made to compromise and agree on a weaker press statement but "unfortunately" there was no consensus.


The UN secretary-general called for an immediate end to Israel's ground operation in Gaza. Speaking by telephone with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Ban conveyed his "extreme concern and disappointment," his press office said in a statement.


Also Saturday night, the US State Department issued a statement saying that it was working to obtain a ceasefire which would not lead to a situation in which the rocket fire continues. Washington also said Israel must take into account the possible ramifications a ground offensive might have on civilians.


US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called off a planned visit to China on Saturday night in order to head the American diplomatic effort to bring about a truce in Gaza.


The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 01.04.09, 07:40
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