Security Council Urges Return to Ceasefire Talks
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday urged Israel and the Palestinian Arabs to return to the negotiating table to quickly agree on a lasting truce in Gaza.
In a unanimously adopted statement quoted by AFP, the 15-member council "offered full support to the Egyptian initiative and called upon the parties to resume negotiations to urgently reach a sustainable and lasting ceasefire."
The statement drafted by France was agreed after negotiations in Cairo teetered on the verge of collapse amid a fresh flare-up of violence.
The measure fell short of a full resolution, but diplomats signaled they would be ready to move toward a stronger response if the Egyptian-led peace track hit a dead end.
"The urgency today was to respond to the fact that the talks appear to be breaking down and there has been a resumption of hostilities, and it was important for the Security Council to respond to that," said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, whose country holds the council presidency, according to AFP.
Earlier this month, Jordan circulated a draft resolution backed by Arab countries that calls for a ceasefire, the lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the delivery of urgently-needed aid to Gazans.
The 15-member Council adopted a statement on July 27 calling for a ceasefire and expressing support for Egypt's mediation efforts after the United States dropped reservations that such a text would single out Israel.
The Security Council’s call came as both Israel and Hamas pulled their delegations out of Cairo, following Hamas's breaching of a six-day long ceasefire and then firing over 130 rockets into Israel in a 24-hour period.
The Palestinian Authority’s representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said his side was ready to return to the negotiations in Cairo.
"We want a sustainable negotiated peace. We want to stop dying. We want the violence to end. In order to do that, Israel must cease its aggression and agree to a deal," Mansour was quoted as having told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.
In the statement, the council expressed "grave concern" at the return to hostilities and the loss of civilian lives.
It called on the sides to "prevent the situation from escalating and to reach an immediate humanitarian ceasefire" as a first step toward a deal on a lasting truce.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the flare-up in violence on Tuesday and called on both sides to reach "an immediate understanding on a durable ceasefire."
"The hopes of the people of Gaza for a better future and the hopes of the people of Israel for sustainable security rest on the talks in Cairo," Ban said.