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Arab States Press for UN Action on Gaza Conflict


Arab foreign ministers met at the United Nations on Monday to discuss a draft resolution for the Security Council that calls for an immediate end to Israeli attacks in Gaza.

Arab leaders met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as well as with representatives of the Security Council on Monday to discuss the text for a draft resolution that they hope to present to the 15-member council on Tuesday.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the proposed resolution calls for a permanent cease-fire, international border monitors and observers, and humanitarian aid. He said he hopes there will be no U.S. objection to the latest Arab draft.

Malki said he was disappointed by President-elect Barack Obama's refusal to comment on the Israeli offensive.

"We expected him really to be open and responsive to the situation in Gaza and still, you know, we expect him to make a strong statement regarding this as soon as possible," said Riyad al-Malki.

The Bush administration says it wants a cease-fire as soon as possible, but that it must be "durable". The White House says any cease-fire should deal with Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, arms smuggling and the reopening of Gaza border crossing points for relief supplies and commerce.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa, speaking at the United Nations, said Arab states are insisting on a balanced resolution, but that Israel has certain responsibilities as well.

"It cannot be to address one party, the Arab party, without seriously and decisively addressing Israel as the occupying power with a lot of obligations, legal obligations, and also what happened to the civilians in Gaza," he said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the situation in Gaza has "worsened dramatically" during the past 48 hours, and that he is worried about what further escalation of the conflict could mean for stability in the region.

"We must insist that Israel end this military assault, which is clearly excessive," he said. "We must insist that Hamas end immediately its rocket attacks, which are so terribly counterproductive, in addition to being completely unacceptable."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to attend the Security Council meeting on Tuesday. An earlier draft resolution circulated last week by the Arab states was rejected by Western Security Council members who said it was "not balanced".

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