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UN Postpones Vote on Draft Condemning Gaza Attack
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The UN Security Council on Friday put off by 24 hours a vote on a draft resolution condemning Israel's deadly attack in Gaza, after Arab nations agreed to soften the text.

Members of the 15-member body met briefly to discuss the draft,which was introduced by Qatar on behalf of Arab states.

The council would meet at noon (1700 GMT) on Saturday to vote on the text, whose wording was toned down somewhat from a version being circulated earlier this week, said Western diplomats.

Arab nations initially asked the council to adopt a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and a UN observer force to enforce the ceasefire.

A new draft circulated on Friday dropped both the ceasefire call and a UN observer force, calling on the international community to take steps to stabilize the situation, revive the Middle East peace process, and consider "the possible establishment of an international mechanism" for the protection of civilians.

Both the original text and the revised version urged Israel to end its military operations in Palestinian territories and withdraw its troops from Gaza immediately.

But diplomats said the US would likely veto the new draft although Washington had not publicly stated its position.

Israeli tanks attacked a residential neighborhood in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza early Wednesday, killing at least 18 people, including eight children.

It was the deadliest attack on Palestinian civilians in the past several years, prompting a wave of strong censure across the Arab world and the international community.

Israel has been a key US ally in the Middle East and the United States has repeatedly supported Israel's military action against the Palestinians as defending itself from "terrorist" attacks.

(Xinhua News Agency November 11, 2006)

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