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UN Security Council Abandons Plans for Gaza Statement


After five days of consultations on the situation in the Gaza Strip, the U.N. Security Council has ended efforts to adopt a statement on the humanitarian situation there and the security situation in both Gaza and southern Israel. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Days of consultations and at least two moments when the council was close to consensus have ended without a statement. Libyan Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi who chairs the council this month made the announcement following Tuesday morning's session.

"Unfortunately the Security Council has decided to stop the discussion on this issue," he said. "The members have realized this morning that they cannot reach a consensus concerning this."

Last Tuesday, the council began discussing a Libyan-sponsored statement. That draft expressed deep concern about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza due to the closing of borders by Israel, but it did not mention Palestinian rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into southern Israel.

Days of consultations and new drafts led to near-consensus Thursday when 14 of the council's 15 members were in agreement on the non-binding text. The only holdout at the time was the United States, which put forward suggested changes on Friday. A day of marathon negotiations took place and ended with Libya, which was also representing the interests of other Arab States, saying it needed more time to consult with Tripoli.

Libya put forward new changes Tuesday, which U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States and some other members could not support. But he added that the lack of agreement did not in any way reflect disagreement within the council on the humanitarian situation.

"There is a uniform concern about the humanitarian situation, but that is not the reason this statement could not be issued, it had to do with other aspects of the statement dealing with the security situation," he said.

Such non-binding statements require approval of all the Security Council's 15 members.

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