The UN Security Council failed to reach any formal agreement after discussions on the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, the council president said Saturday.
"There was no formal agreement among the members of the Security Council," said Jean-Maurice Ripert, France's UN ambassador and current council president.
A Palestinian shouts slogans at a demonstration in downtown Ramallah against Israel's ground operation on the Gaza Strip, Jan 3, 2009. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began its ground incursion into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip since Jan. 3, and the airstrikes since Dec. 27, 2008 have left at least 450 Palestinian people dead and some 2,300 others wounded in the Gaza Strip by far. [Xinhua Photo]
Ripert spoke with reporters after the council's nearly four-hour emergency meeting following Israel's ground invasion of Gaza.
The meeting was the Security Council's third since the conflict erupted on Dec. 27.
But the Security Council issued a presidential statement on Sunday morning at the end of an emergency meeting, calling for an immediate end to violence in Gaza and southern Israel.
Ripert said he noted "strong convergencies" among council members to have a statement adopted by the 15-member UN body calling for "an immediate, permanent and fully-respected cease-fire in Gaza and southern Israel."
During closed-door consultations, some council members also voiced concern at the escalation of violence and the humanitarian situation in Gaza. They called for efforts to ensure free access to the area so that humanitarian supplies could be shipped to people in need.
"There are also strong convergencies among the council members to call on all parties to resume peace talks," Ripert said.
The emergency meeting was convened Saturday night at the request of Libya, the only Arab nation in the council, which circulated a draft statement that expressed "serious concern" at the Israeli military invasion into Gaza and called for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire.
The United States, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, prevented the council from adopting the non-binding statement, diplomatic sources said.
The Security Council can adopt a statement, or a resolution, which is legally binding, only after a consensus is achieved among council members.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, shocked by the Israeli military move, conveyed his "extreme concern and disappointment" to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
"The secretary-general reiterates his call for an immediate cessation of all violence, and urges regional and international partners to exert all possible influence to bring about an immediate end to the bloodshed and suffering," said a statement released by Ban's office before the Security Council meeting.
The Israeli invasion thwarted efforts by the international community, including the United Nations, to bring peace to the Middle East.
More than 450 Palestinians have been killed and 2,300 others injured since Israel began air strikes on Gaza on Dec. 27.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and some Arab foreign ministers are expected to meet with the UN secretary-general in New York on Monday, UN officials said earlier Saturday.
Arab countries have been pressing the Security Council to adopt a resolution, drafted by Libya, to condemn Israeli military attacks on Gaza and call for an immediate cease-fire to be fully respected by all parties.
Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour warned that if the Israeli aggression is not stopped immediately, thousands more Palestinian civilians would be killed and injured.
"Now we're in the second week of this aggression, without seeing the Security Council bring its will, and in such a way to bring Israel into compliance with its call" for an immediate cease-fire, he said.
"This is immoral, this is illegal, this is unacceptable, "Mansour said.
UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto of Nicaragua described the Israeli incursion "a monstrosity."
"Once again, the world is watching in dismay the dysfunctionality of the Security Council," D'Escoto said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2009)