UN Security Council suspends Gaza debate

Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - With a cease-fire announced in the Gaza crisis, the U.N. Security Council called off a formal open debate that had been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

The council had been silent since Israel launched air raids on Hamas in Gaza last Wednesday in response to months of Hamas rocket fire into Israel.

Arab nations had called for an open Security Council debate if a cease-fire was not arranged, and Russia was ready to introduce a resolution calling for a cease-fire.

Instead, the council held closed consultations, then heard a report by videoconference from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who since Monday has been talking with Middle East leaders.

Ban welcomed the cease-fire and said it was urgent that humanitarian aid be delivered to Gaza.

As the meeting ended, the council's president this month, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, read out a press statement adopted by consensus welcoming the cease-fire and commending Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for helping achieve it. It also called for more humanitarian said to be delivered with the cooperation of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. No mention was made of Hamas, which actually governs on the ground in Gaza.

The statement made no reference to who started or stoked the cycle of violence. The council had been paralyzed for days, while the violence raged, over U.S. refusal to approve a statement that did not refer to the months of Hamas rocket fire into Israel that led up to the Israeli air strikes. Britain and Germany also wanted to see some reference to the Hamas rocket fire in a statement.

In the end, no blame was assigned.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice also had made it clear that Washington did not want any council action or speeches to inflame passions or undermine the goal of mediating a cease-fire.

She came out after the council meeting to emphasize that the crisis began with "the escalating barrages of rockets launched from Gaza by Hamas and other terrorist organizations" into Israel. She mourned the Israeli and Palestinian casualties, and called for renewed work to push for the two-state solution establishing a Palestinian state, alongside Israel.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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