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Fresh calls at UN for Gaza ceasefire

world Updated: Jan 06, 2009 16:26 IST
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The fast rising death toll in Israel's Gaza offensive sparked fresh calls for a truce at the UN, with French diplomats trying to formulate a resolution to reconcile vastly divergent positions of the Arabs and the US.

The wide chasm between the positions was clearly visible with Arabs insisting that they were averse to condemning Hamas and the United States opposing a unilateral call to Israel to stop military action.

Israeli diplomats made it clear that the Council will be wasting time in passing any resolution for ceasefire until Hamas stops firing rockets in southern Israel, threatening their citizens. There should be mechanism for a long-term ceasefire, they said.

Backing the position taken by Tel Aviv, American diplomats stressed that there could be no ceasefire until Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel and a mechanism is in place which would ensure that Hamas cannot rearm itself to threaten Israel again.

The images on television of Palestinian children and women dying brought widespread sympathy for them but it was still not clear whether and when the 15-member Council will take any action. Diplomats said the earliest any action could be taken is on Wednesday.

French diplomats were not betting on when they would be able to finalise the resolution or whether they would be able to find a language acceptable to all. But they said that their proposal would carry elements of Arabs' position.