The UN Security Council on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza "leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces."
The 15-nation council approved the resolution with 14 voting in favor. The United States abstained.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R, front) speaks after approval of the resolution calling for ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza during the United Nations Security Council meeting on Gaza crisis at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, Jan. 8, 2009.(Xinhua/Hou Jun)
The council took the move after Arab and Western foreign ministers agreed on an amended version of a Britain-drafted resolution. It came on the 13th day of Israeli military assaults on Gaza in which more than 700 Palestinians have died.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the Security Council presidency for January, chaired the open council meeting, at which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband were present.
After the vote, Ban said that his trip to the Middle East next week will help to promote the ceasefire.
In the resolution, the council stressed that "the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestine State."
Zhang Yesui, Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations, votes for approval of the resolution calling for ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza during the United Nations Security Council meeting on Gaza crisis at the UN headquarters in New York, Jan. 8, 2009.(Xinhua/Hou Jun)
Kouchner, speaking in his capacity as the French foreign minister, said that the resolution "is the only viable way" to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Rice, in explaining her vote, said that despite the abstention, the United States supports the text of the resolution.
The United States is a close ally of Israel, which launched air strikes on Dec. 27, 2008 to retaliate for the firing of rockets into southern Israel by Hamas militants.
The resolution also "calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medicines."
The Security Council "welcomes the initiative aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid," the resolution said.
Bernard Kouchner (C), foreign minister of France, votes for approval of the resolution calling for ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza during the United Nations Security Council meeting on Gaza crisis at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, Jan. 8, 2009. (Xinhua/Hou Jun)
The Security Council "condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism."
The Security Council "calls upon member states to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained reopening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel," the resolution said.
Meanwhile, the Security Council also "welcomes the Egyptian initiative, and other regional and international efforts that are under way," the resolution said, referring to a peace initiative announced by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.
The Security Council "welcomes the Quartet's consideration, in consultation with other parties, of an international meeting in Moscow in 2009," the resolution said.
The Quartet groups the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States in search of peace in the Middle East.Source: Xinhua