United Nations holds emergency meeting on Israel's Gaza attacks

NEW YORK  // The United Nations' Security Council held an emergency meeting on Gaza this morning in New York. While diplomats said there was agreement the violence should stop, the council came to no decision.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative at the UN, called on the council at the closed-door meeting to "urgently act to bring an end to Israel's aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip," according to a text of his speech circulated to reporters.

"A direct, firm message must be sent to Israel to cease immediately its military campaign," he said. "The Occupying Power is yet again vulgarly and publicly boasting about its willful killing of Palestinians," Mr. Mansour said.

If the Israeli assault continues Arab nations would introduce a Security Council resolution demanding that it end, he said.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor criticised Mr Mansour for not mentioning the Hamas rocket attacks inside the council. Mr Mansour told reporters after the meeting that the Palestinian Authority condemns all attacks on civilians, including the rockets.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Hamas missile attacks on Nov. 4. Mr Mansour also alleged that Israel's action was "synchronised" with the Palestinians' intention to hold a vote in the General Assembly on November 29 to become a UN non-member, observer state.

"They are now opening a war against our people in the Gaza strip in order to divert attention from the efforts in the General Assembly," Mr Mansour said.

Ron Prosor, Israel's UN ambassador, countered that the Israel action came after long restraint in response to rocket attacks from Gaza on southern Israel and dismissed any connection with the vote.

But Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, just hours before the Israeli assault began, labeled Mr. Abbas' UN bid "diplomatic terror" and vowed to overthrow the Palestinian leader.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador, telling the meeting there was "no justification" for Hamas' rocket attacks, called on "those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately," according to a transcript released by the US mission.

"Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that does nothing but set back the Palestinian cause," Ms Rice said.

"Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza nor to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination and independence."

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