US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday she had pressed Israel to seriously consider an Egyptian ceasefire plan as the UN Security Council weighed action to end Israel's attack on Gaza.
Rice spoke by telephone on Wednesday to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and said she had detailed discussions with them on the conditions on the ground in Gaza as well as the Egyptian initiative.
"We're supporting that initiative. I've been in very close discussions with my Arab colleagues but also with the Israelis about the importance of moving that initiative forward," she said.
The plan offered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak seeks to end the 12-day offensive in Gaza. In Israel, officials said they accepted the "principles" of the proposal, but the details needed to be worked out.
Rice said she had also spoken to Israel about the need for a pause in violence, as happened on Wednesday, to allow for humanitarian aid to get through.
"That needs to be repeated again and again," she said of the three-hour truce.
Rice, who extended her visit to New York, also sought to convince Arab ministers at the United Nations there was no need to move ahead with a Libyan-drafted resolution which the United States and others view as strongly anti-Israeli.
Foreign ministers from Britain, France and the United States held several meetings with their Arab colleagues and proposed a more muted UN Security Council statement rather than a binding resolution to end the violence.
A text drafted by the three Western powers spoke of an "urgent need for an immediate and durable ceasefire" and voiced strong concern over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.