Russia calls for Israel-Hamas ceasefire at UN

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Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations called for a “humanitarian cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip and Israel on Friday, while blaming the United States for the ongoing conflict.

The Russian draft resolution, presented to the Security Council and seen by AFP, calls for an “immediate” ceasefire and the secure release of all hostages, and “strongly condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism.”

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The document did not specifically name Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza and on Saturday burst through the heavily militarized border into Israel and killed 1,300 people, mostly civilians.

Hamas, classified as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, took about 150 Israeli, foreign and dual-national hostages back to Gaza in the initial attack, Israel has said.

The United States has called on the Security Council to condemn the Palestinian Islamists and their attack, the deadliest in Israel’s history.

Israel has responded to the incursion with a bombardment of missile strikes on the densely populated enclave of Gaza, killing at least 1,900 people -- again mostly civilians, including more than 600 children.

“We’re convinced that the Security Council must act to put an end to the bloodshed and restart peace negotiations with a view to establishing a Palestinian state as it was supposed to do so long ago,” Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said after the closed-door meeting of the Security Council on Friday.

Nebenzia said there were positive responses to the draft resolution among some member states.

He also blamed the United States for bearing “responsibility for the looming war in the Middle East,” and criticized European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen for “turning a blind eye to the Israeli air force attacks on civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.”

The Security Council is regularly divided on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Members spoke cautiously of the resolution after the meeting.

“The draft resolution appeared just two minutes before we went into the council meeting,” said British Ambassador Barbara Woodward.

“I think for something that is as important as this, we’ve already seen how much human life has been destroyed. We need time for consultation, serious consultation.”

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said that “there is an emerging consensus on the humanitarian concerns,” adding: “We are open to all efforts which will help cease the fire, help de-escalate the tension.”

Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira, whose country chairs the rotating presidency of the Security Council, said that “Brazil will continue to work closely with all delegations aiming for a unified position by the Council on the situation.”

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