UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council called Saturday for a cease-fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict centered on the Gaza Strip.
A council statement approved by all 15 members calls for de-escalation of the violence, restoration of calm, and a resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution.
The statement calls for "the reinstitution of the November 2012 cease-fire," which was brokered by Egypt, but gives no time frame for when it should take effect.
Palestinian U.N. envoy, Riyad Mansour stressed, however, that the Palestinians' understanding is that the cease-fire should go into effect immediately.
"We will observe very closely whether Israel will abide by this call and we hope they do," Mansour told reporters. "If they don't, we have a lot in our arsenal, and we will not allow the Security Council to rest for a minute. It is its job to maintain international peace and security, and it is its job to stop this aggression against our people."
In a sign of increasing international pressure to end the conflict, British Foreign Secretary William Hague also called for a cease-fire Saturday and said he would meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of Germany and France in Vienna on Sunday to discuss a halt to the fighting. Mansour said Arab foreign ministers will also meet Monday "to continue the effort to stop the aggression against our people."
The press statement, which is not legally binding but reflects international opinion, is the first response by the U.N.'s most powerful body, which has been deeply divided on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The United States, Israel's most important ally, has defended the Israeli attacks in response to the barrage of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza, which is controlled by the militant group Hamas. But other council members have decried the escalating Israeli attacks which Mansour said have killed or injured more than 1,000 Palestinians. There have been no fatalities in Israel from the continued rocket fire.
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