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UNSC fails again to agree on Gaza statement
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The UN Security Council failed Friday to agree on a statement to help end the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, despite lengthy negotiations.

Libya's UN Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi, who holds this month's rotating council presidency, blocked the statement, saying he had to report to Tripoli the latest text, which is backed by 14 other members.

Ettalhi said he expects to receive instructions from the capital Monday and then will consult other members to schedule a meeting.

U.S. ambassador Alejandro Wolff, who Thursday said there would be "difficulties" for the council in reaching an agreement, called the new text "balanced."

"There are no more sticking points for the United States any more," Wolff said, adding that he did not expect any changes to the text in its current form.

The original text of the draft, submitted by Libya with the support of Arab countries, expressed concern over the situation in Gaza and called on Israel to end its blockade and allow the entry of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.

The United States, a staunch ally of Israel, has insisted that Israel's security concerns should be addressed in the statement.

The revised version urges Israel "to minimize the impact of its actions on the civilian population in Gaza" and "to facilitate safe and secure access for humanitarian aid to the Palestinians."

It also contains a condemnation of rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

Israel ordered the shut-down of all Gaza crossings in the wake of Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and further tightened the siege recently in retaliation to ongoing makeshift rocket attacks carried out by Palestinian militants from Gaza against Israel.

(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2008)

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