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UNSC reaches no accord on Gaza conflict
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The UN Security Council on Wednesday failed again to reach an accord on how to end the ongoing Gaza conflict, the Council president for the month of January, French UN Ambassador John-Maurice Ripert, told reporters in New York at the end of a closed-door meeting.

The Security Council has two draft texts on the table -- a draft resolution presented by Libya, and a presidential statement proposed by France, Ripert said.

"There is no unanimity on either of these texts," he said. "We have decided to continue our discussions."

Libya, the only Arab member of the Council, insisted on an early vote on the draft resolution, which called for an immediate end to Israel's 12-day-long military attacks on Gaza and demanded the withdrawal of Israeli forces to the area prior to Dec. 27, 2008.

In contrast, the French-proposed presidential statement would just underline "the urgent need for an immediate and durable ceasefire" and extend the Council's welcome to a peace initiative announced by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian UN ambassador, Maged Abdelaziz, told reporters here that representatives of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have agreed to meet on Thursday in Cairo, capital of Egypt, which brokered the peace talks.

The French UN ambassador said that during the closed-door consultations, "there is a common expression among Council members about the serious concern on the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza."

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmey Khalilzad, told reporters that the Libya-proposed draft resolution was printed in blue, meaning ready to be put to vote by Council members.

However, the U.S. ambassador said that "one or two" Council members have claimed the draft resolution has won "broad support" from the Council members, instead of a "unanimity" reached among all members.

The United States, which blocked the approval of a Security Council statement on the Gaza conflict, voiced its strong objection to the draft resolution, Palestinian diplomatic sources here said.

The Egyptian ambassador said that they are still making efforts to discuss the draft resolution with other Council members and amend it in order to prevent any potential veto when the draft resolution is put to vote at the Security Council.

Unanimity or consensus is the indispensable basis for the Security Council to adopt a draft resolution, which is legally binding after its adoption, or a presidential statement.

The United States, one of the five permanent members in the Security Council, has the power of veto.

In the Security Council, decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members. Decisions on substantive matters require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. If a permanent member does not agree with a decision, it can cast a negative vote, and this act has power of veto.

At open Security Council meetings on the Gaza conflict on Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives of the League of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement, together with representatives of many other countries, have voiced their disappointment at the inability of the Security Council to uphold its responsibilities in maintaining international peace and security.

After more than 10 days of sustained Israeli military attacks that have gravely affected the civilian population and heightened instability and tensions in Gaza and the region, the Security Council has remained divided and been unable to take any concrete measure to end the violence and bloodshed in Gaza.

(Xinhua News Agency January 8, 2009)

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