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Security Council calls for cease-fire

After days of diplomatic wrestling, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Thursday night calling for an “immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip that would lead to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Palestinian enclave.

Arab and Western diplomats seemed unconvinced that their handiwork would silence Israeli guns or stop the militant group Hamas from firing rockets into Israel. But they expressed hope that the resolution might jolt the warring parties onto a new course to halt the bloodshed.

The United States, which initially wanted a less-authoritative “presidential statement” from the Security Council, abstained from the vote.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. wanted more time for a fully mediated truce.

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“The U.S. thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation efforts. . . . That is why we abstained tonight. But after a great deal of consideration we decided this resolution . . . should indeed be allowed to go forward.”

The resolution does not mention Hamas, but after the vote Rice placed blame for the conflict primarily on the militant group.

Foreign ministers immediately expressed concerns about the resolution.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki said, “We fear for a delay [of a cease-fire] for a few hours if not a few days. We’re worried [the Israelis] will continue the attack and expand it.”

A Chinese diplomat said the consensus on the Security Council was built on the notion that “something is better than nothing.”


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