The UN Security Council sought the release of foreigners kidnapped in retaliation for an Israeli raid on a Palestinian prison and expressed serious concern at the raid, but appeared unlikely to come down hard against Israel as Qatar proposed.
Top UN officials, meanwhile, warned that the latest violence in the West Bank only heightened tensions in the region and urged both sides to defuse the crisis.
"Israel's violent incursion - as well as the Palestinian actions carried out in response - risk destabilizing even further the already tense situation in the Middle East," Ibrahim Gambari, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, told the Security Council in an emergency meeting on Tuesday.
Representing Arab nations on the council and backed by the Palestinian government, Qatar distributed a draft presidential statement that would call on Israel to end its "continued onslaught" against the Palestinian-run prison.
The Qatar draft would also demand that Israel return the prisoners it seized "and to return the situation to that which existed prior to the Israeli military attack."
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