UN Security Council passes Gaza ceasefire resolution

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Late on Thursday the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Only the United States abstained because of the view that Hamas was committed to violence.

Fighting has continued since the resolution, and yesterday Israel warned of increased military action.

The death toll from the first 13 days of the Israeli offensive was 770 Palestinians and 14 Israelis.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has given an explanation for why the United States abstained and did not veto the resolution. "...But after a great deal of consideration, we decided that this resolution, the text of which we support, the goals of which we support, and the objectives that we fully support, should indeed be allowed to go forward. I believe in doing so, the council has provided a roadmap for a sustainable, durable peace in Gaza."

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has commented that the resolution was still a disappointment. "To tell you the truth, we have really expected that all countries would vote in favor. Are we happy? No, we are not really happy. We expected something more. But we are really satisfied with the outcome so far. What really concerns us the most is the immediate applicability of the resolution on ground. We fear, and we have reasons to do so, that Israel will delay its acceptance and implementation of the cease-fire for few hours, if not few days."

Israel continued to drop warning leaflets and send phone messages to Gaza residents, with one phone message on Saturday saying that the "third stage" of their operation will begin soon. United Nations aid agency UNRWA resumed aid shipments yesterday, after halting them on Thursday citing safety risks.

What can the outside world do to promote a ceasefire?