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UN Security Council Adopts Gaza Cease-fire Resolution

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See the Gaza-Israel Conflict Timeline The U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.  The measure was adopted late Thursday by a vote of 14 to 0 -- the United States being the only hold out, abstaining from the vote. The move came after three days of intense negotiations between foreign ministers from  Britain, France and the United States and the Arab world. 

Despite being heavily involved in the negotiations, the United States, Israel's staunchest ally, did not cast its vote on the resolution, which calls for "an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire" in Gaza that would lead to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Palestinian territory.

U.S. Secretary of Condoleezza Rice, who led the U.S. efforts, defended the action, saying the crisis started because Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip in a coup against the Palestinian Authority, is committed to violence. 

She also said it was important to see the outcome of Egypt's mediation efforts, in her words, "in order to see what this resolution might have been supporting."

"And that is why we chose to abstain tonight. But after a great deal of consideration, we decided that this resolution, the text of which we support, the goals of which we support, and the objectives that we fully support, should indeed be allowed to go forward. I believe in doing so, the council has provided a roadmap for a sustainable, durable peace in Gaza," she said.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malaki said he was disappointed with the U.S. abstention - which came as a surprise to many diplomats.

"To tell you the truth, we have really expected that all countries would vote in favor. Are we happy? No, we are not really happy. We expected something more. But we are really satisfied with the outcome so far. What really concerns us the most is the immediate applicability of the resolution on ground. We fear, and we have reasons to do so, that Israel will delay its acceptance and implementation of the cease-fire for few hours, if not few days," he said.

Minister Maliki speculated that Israel would use the Jewish Sabbath that begins Friday evening and continues into Saturday as a delaying tactic to implementing the truce.

But other Arab foreign ministers expressed satisfaction with the resolution's adoption and said they hoped it would be implemented quickly to stop the loss of more Palestinian lives.

Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gabriela Shalev did not say whether her country would comply with the resolution, only that the blame for the hostilities lies firmly with Hamas.

In addition to the cease-fire, resolution 1860 calls for the unimpeded distribution of humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the prevention of arms trafficking to ensure the sustained reopening of crossing points. It also welcomes Egypt's proposal to mediate between Israel and the Palestinian factions.

In the two weeks since Israel launched its air and land incursion into Gaza to silence Hamas rockets, more than 750 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed. Thousands more have been injured. Eighteen Israelis have died, including at least nine soldiers. 

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