Palestinians and Egyptians failed late Wednesday night to sway the UN Security Council to condemn Israel’s military strike against Gaza.

At their request, the council held an emergency late-night private meeting in which they were briefed by the council’s undersecretary for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman.

They also heard from the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors.

The council did not issue any formal statement. But the council head, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri told the press, “The violence must stop.”

Puri added that he hoped the meeting would “deescalate the situation and impress upon the parties the need to exercise maximum restraint so the situation won’t deteriorate.”

Puri told the press that he was speaking as India's ambassador and not president of the council.

The US, which is one of the council’s 15 members, and one of five countries that hold veto power, has condemned Hamas violence and said that Israel has a right to defend itself.

“There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately,” American Ambassador Susan Rice said.

She added that in the last 12 years, Palestinians in Gaza have launched 12,000 rockets at Israel.

Rice said that her country regretted the harm done to innocent Israelis and Palestinians.

After the meeting, PLO Ambassador Riyad H. Mansour stood with ambassadors from other Arab countries who had not been able to attend the meeting.

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He said he had wanted an open meeting that the press could cover and hoped the council would hold such a gathering.

Almost all those at Wednesday night’s council meeting wanted “this onslaught and aggression against our people to be stopped,” Mansour said.

He warned that Palestinians would continue to push the council to condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Mansour clarified that the Palestinian were “against the killing of innocent civilians regardless from which side.”

He charged that the Israel’s military operation was connected to the upcoming Palestinian bid at the UN General Assembly to upgrade its status to that of non-member state.

“Part of the timing of the attack is trying to divert attention away from our energies in mobilizing the entire international community to support our effort for succeeding in the exercise on November 29 of legislating through the General Assembly the recognition of the state and bestowing observer status,” he said.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor in turn reminded the press that the latest escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza began Saturday when a Palestinian-launched rocket hit an IDF jeep along the border.

Hamas is a recognized terror group and the international community recognizes Israel’s southern border, Prosor said.

Israel left Gaza in 2005, Prosor said, adding that it could have been an oasis and instead it was turned into a launching pad for terror.

Prosor said that when the Palestinians talk about a UN upgrade to that of non-member state, they should say it would be a “non-member terror state” because that is what would happen if Hamas is involved.

“As we speak, the citizens of Israel are in shelters. Children are not going to school and people will not be going to work. Israel will do everything it can to protect its citizens,” he said.

“Anyone who wants to live in peace should condemn the rocket attacks,” Prosor said.

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