The UN Security Council hit a deadlock on Monday on a statement on the Gaza conflict, with the United States saying it opposes any action that undermines efforts to reach a ceasefire, AFP reported.
Russia warned that unless an Arab-proposed statement calling for Israel-Hamas hostilities to end was agreed by Tuesday morning it would press for a vote on the full council resolution, setting up a potential veto clash with the United States.
The United States, Britain, France and Germany all had problems with a text proposed by Arab nations last Thursday because it made no mention of rocket fire from Gaza-based terrorists, diplomats said, according to AFP.
All the western nations have said that Israel has the right to defend itself, while the Europeans have urged restraint on the Israeli government.
The Palestinian Authority envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, highlighted the growing frustration of the Palestinian Authority and its allies as the fighting intensifies and the council says nothing.
The Security Council cannot "remain on the margin," he told reporters, according to AFP. He said it was now urgent for the "the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility and stop this aggression against our people."
U.S. ambassador Susan Rice said there had to be an agreed ceasefire between Israel and Hamas for any halt in violence to be "meaningful or sustainable."
"The United States and countries in the region are working energetically through all diplomatic channels to try to negotiate an end to the violence, a de-escalation," Rice told reporters after the talks.
Rice said that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been on the telephone with Middle East leaders "throughout the day."
It was "vitally important" that any Security Council action "is reinforcing the prospects for an agreed cessation and not doing anything that could undermine that prospect or run counter to it. That is our principal objective in these discussions and we will continue to pursue that aim," she added.
Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin, however, said the Arab proposal, made through Morocco, is "a very good text".
"If the statement is not adopted at 9:00 am (1400 GMT) tomorrow morning we will go for a vote of our draft" on Wednesday afternoon, he said.
The Russian resolution would call for a cessation of violence, support for Egyptian-led efforts to secure a ceasefire and encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume their frozen talks, according to a copy obtained by AFP.
The Security Council held an emergency session last Wednesday, hours after Israel launched the Pillar of Defense counter-terrorism operation in Gaza. That meeting too, like Monday’s, ended with no agreement.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is set to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Ban arrived Monday in Cairo on the first leg of a visit with President Mohammed Morsi to assist Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas terrorist rulers.
Unconfirmed reports on Monday night said that a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza could go into effect “within several hours”.
The report by the Al-Arabiya network said that the forum of nine senior Israeli ministers was expected to approve an initial outline for a ceasefire with Hamas.
According to the outline offered by Egypt and described in the report, Israel will stop the air strikes on Gaza and stop the targeted killings of senior members of Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza, in exchange for a complete cessation of the rocket fire into Israel.
Earlier, Hamas top terrorist Khaled Mashaal said that the group is not interested in a ceasefire.
“There may be or may not be an agreement, but that is up to Israel,” he said. “There are efforts by Qatar and Egypt, we are meeting with them every day. But we will not accept any Israeli conditions. If they want a ceasefire, let them stop attacking us. The one who started the violence should end it.”