Ceasefire Hopes Alive At U.N.

There is intense diplomatic activity and a glimmer of hope for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire at the U.N.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice scurried around the corridors of the U.N. from dawn until dusk with the French and British foreign ministers, staying well past her originally scheduled departure.

But, while there is support for a new Egyptian-French ceasefire proposal – the Egyptian foreign minister announced Thursday meetings in Cairo with Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority – there is still a great divide on how to approach a ceasefire at the U.N.

The main difference appears to be that the U.S. wants a "durable" ceasefire delineated in an informal statement at the U.N. and Libya, representing the Arab League, wants a vote on a binding resolution for an "immediate" ceasefire.

The proposal that Rice and the French and British foreign ministers are circulating has several main points: it calls for "immediate and durable ceasefire" the prevention of illegal trade, and the reopening of crossing points. The Arab League appears to want to have a vote on a more binding resolution – even if it means the U.S. will veto it. But negotiations are ongoing.

Rice said today at the U.N. that the U.S. is supporting the Egypt-France initiative; Israel is also positive about the terms of the proposal, but has not accepted it. Hamas says it's considering it. And both Turkey and France have offered to contribute to a possible international monitoring team.

The presidential statement (PRST) being circulated by the U.S., the U.K. and France appeared to be getting some traction, according to U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who said, "There was some concern expressed by some members—I would say a small number of members—with regard to the PRST. There was broad support for it. But as you know, in order to have a PRST, you need unanimity. We are hoping that one or two that were not favorable to the PRST would upon reflection take a different view. We can move on that relatively soon."

  • Pamela Falk

    Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations.