UNSC fails to formulate Gaza statement

US: No disagreement on concern over humanitarian situation; Arab League may call emergency meeting.

After more than a week of negotiations over a UN Security Council presidential statement on the current Gaza crisis, the council abandoned the effort on Tuesday due to a failure to reach the necessary consensus. On Friday, after a long series of bargaining sessions that produced several changes to the draft statement, Libya's UN Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi said he had to refer the latest text to Tripoli. Ettalhi's statement that he had unspecified problems with a text accepted by the 14 other council members came after consultations with other Arab UN ambassadors. Ettalhi returned Tuesday with additional changes, but the council could not come to agreement on them. "We had an opportunity on several occasions but could not reach a consensus as a council, but this does not reflect a disagreement about our concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza," a representative of the United States Mission told reporters. "The US felt strongly that we needed to look at the issue more comprehensively." Ettalhi told reporters Tuesday that the Arab League would discuss whether to call for an emergency meeting of the General Assembly to discuss Gaza, but many expected the issue would end here. Friday's draft called on Israel "to minimize the impact of its actions on the civilian population in Gaza" and "to facilitate safe and secure access for humanitarian aid to the Palestinians." It also says the council "condemns the daily rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians, particularly since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005" and "calls for an immediate cessation of such attacks." "We had a text that we hoped we could reach a consensus on Friday, but following amendments presented by Libya today, we concluded we couldn't reach an agreement," said the US representative. "It was imperative for the US not to equate acts of self-defense with rocket attacks." Though the US was most adamant about reaching a presidential statement that expressed councern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza as well as for the ongoing Kassam attacks on Israel, other council members also urged a more balanced statement.