Palestinians urge ceasefire in UN draft resolution

UNITED NATIONS - The Palestinians and their international supporters are discussing a U.N. draft resolution that would condemn all violence against civilians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and call for "an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire."

An initial draft of the proposed Security Council resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, expresses "grave concern" at the escalating violence and deteriorating situation in the Palestinian territories due to Israeli military operations, particularly against the Gaza Strip, and at the heavy civilian casualties including children.

The council is deeply divided and often paralyzed over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the United States defending close ally Israel and the majority of other council members firmly backing the Palestinians.

The Palestinian draft makes no mention of the firing of hundreds of rockets into Israel by Hamas, which controls Gaza, and that would likely make it unacceptable to the United States if it was introduced in the Security Council.

It calls on the parties in the conflict to abide by their obligations under the Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in war, to refrain from actions that could further destabilize the situation and to make urgent efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution.

The Palestinians began talks on the resolution after an emergency meeting of the council on Thursday.

At that closed meeting, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Jordan's deputy ambassador told members he had some "elements" that could be the basis for a press statement, which unlike a resolution would not be legally binding.

The elements, obtained by The Associated Press, call for "immediate calm and ending the hostilities in Gaza including the launching of rocket attacks," restoration of the 2012 cease-fire and resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a comprehensive peace agreement and a two-state solution. They also call for protection of civilians.

Churkin said the Jordanian ambassador "retreated to talk to the American delegation" and "that was the end of it - we never received any draft of a press statement."

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said: "Ambassador Churkin knows very well that no country can block another country from circulating a text."

"There's a lot of diplomacy going on right now to achieve our shared goal, which is a reduction in tensions and ensuring the safety and security of civilians on both sides," the official said. "And we've engaged with Security Council delegations on this."

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