Fri, Jan 02, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Libya hands UN Gaza resolution

EMERGENCY MEETING The Arab League’s draft UN resolution on Israel’s attacks on Hamas in Gaza was described by the British and US ambassadors as being ‘too partial’

AFP , UNITED NATIONS

Israeli soldiers fire a mortar round toward the Gaza Strip from the Israeli side of the border with the Palestinian coastal strip yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Libya on Wednesday presented a draft resolution from the Arab League to a UN Security Council emergency meeting that called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

The draft resolution “strongly condemns all military attacks and the excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Israel, the occupying power, which have led to the death and injury of scores of innocent Palestinian civilians, including women and children.”

It called for “an immediate ceasefire and for its full respect by both sides.”

It also called on Israel “to scrupulously abide by all of its obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly under the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in time of war.”

The 15-member council is now expected to convene a public debate on the draft resolution that includes representatives from Israel, Egypt, the Arab League and the Palestinian territories.

The resolution made no mention of the ongoing Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli territory that Israel said prompted its retaliatory offensive against Gaza.

At the start of the emergency council meeting — requested by Egypt and Libya on behalf of Arab nations at the UN — the British and US ambassadors to the UN said the draft resolution seemed too partial at first reading.

“This resolution as currently circulated by Libya is not balanced and therefore, as currently drafted, it is not acceptable to the United States,” US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters.

Israel’s closest ally, Washington has regularly vetoed Security Council resolutions seen as too critical of Israel.

“We will study the text carefully but ... any resolution will need to reflect the responsibilities of all parties,” said Britain’s UN ambassador John Sawers, adding: “There is no mention so far of the rocket attacks that have triggered the Israeli offensive.”

Sudan’s ambassador to the UN, Abdalmahmud Abdalhaleem Mohamad, and Arab League representative Yahya Mahmassani said the Council would likely meet at the foreign minister-level in the coming days, with at least eight Arab countries participating.

Foreign ministers from Arab League nations meeting in Cairo on Wednesday called for a binding UN resolution requiring an immediate halt to hostilities.

A delegation headed by chief Saudi diplomat Prince Saud al-Faisal with foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar and Syria, a Palestinian representative and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa will likely travel to UN headquarters to argue the Arab League’s case, Mohamad said.

The Sudanese ambassador said a Security Council meeting with these representatives could be held on Sunday or Monday.

The draft resolution also called “for the immediate and sustained opening of the border crossings of the Gaza Strip,” and the resumption of humanitarian aid deliveries.

It “stresses the need for restoration of calm in full in order to pave the way for resolving all issues in a peaceful manner within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also appealed on Wednesday for a UN resolution imposing a ceasefire.

Abbas is set to meet with the UN Security Council on Monday.

The Israeli attacks have so far lasted five days, killing 398 Palestinians, including 180 civilians, and wounding close to 2,000, Gaza emergency services figures showed.

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