Amid U.N. deadlock on Gaza crisis, Israel hits out at Iran

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Israel’s President Shimon Peres accused Iran Monday of encouraging the Palestinians to continue rocket attacks on Israel rather than negotiating a ceasefire, saying “they are out of their mind.”

The comments came as the U.N. Security Council hit deadlock on a statement on the Gaza conflict with the United States saying it opposes any action that undermines efforts to reach a ceasefire.

But Russia warned that unless an Arab-proposed statement calling for Israel-Hamas hostilities to end was agreed by Tuesday morning it would press for a vote on the full council resolution -- setting up a potential veto clash with the United States.

Peres, meanwhile, praised Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi for the constructive role he has played in the intensifying crisis.

“The unpleasant one is the Iranians. They are trying again to encourage the Hamas to continue the shooting, the bombing, they are trying to send them arms,” Peres said in interview on CNN.

“They are out of their mind,” he said.

Peres said Israel had no choice but to wage its offensive against Hamas in Gaza despite the rising civilian casualties, citing what he said were 1,200 missiles fired from the territory in the past six days.

“In one minute, if they stop shooting, there won’t be any casualties,” he said.

In singling out Iran, Peres said, “We are not going to make a war with Iran. But we are trying to prevent the shipping of long range missiles which Iran is sending to Hamas.”

“But Iran is a problem, world problem, not only from the point of view of building a nuclear danger, but also from the point of being a center of world terror.

“They finance, they train, they send arms, they urge, no responsibility, no moral consideration,” Peres said.

Asked whether a ground war in Gaza was inevitable, Peres said he was hopeful that there would be a ceasefire.

“The negotiations are still being continued. It’s difficult for all parties, but it’s not over and the best choice for all of us is to stop shooting,” he said.

U.N. gridlock

The United States, Britain, France and Germany all had problems with a text proposed by Arab nations last Thursday because it made no mention of rocket fire from Palestinian militants in Gaza, diplomats said.

All the western nations have said that Israel has the right to defend itself, while the Europeans have urged restraint on the Israeli government in its latest offensive on Gaza which has now left more than 100 dead.

Palestinian envoy to the U.N. Riyad Mansour, highlighted the growing frustration of the Palestinian Authority and its allies as the fighting intensifies and the council says nothing.

The Security Council cannot “remain on the margin,” he told reporters. He said it was now urgent for the “the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility and stop this aggression against our people.”

U.S. ambassador Susan Rice said there had to be an agreed ceasefire between the Israelis and Hamas for any halt in violence to be “meaningful or sustainable.”

“The United States and countries in the region are working energetically through all diplomatic channels to try to negotiate an end to the violence, a de-escalation,” Rice told reporters after the talks.

She said President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been on the telephone with Middle East leaders “throughout the day.”

It was “vitally important” that any Security Council action “is reinforcing the prospects for an agreed cessation and not doing anything that could undermine that prospect or run counter to it. That is our principal objective in these discussions and we will continue to pursue that aim,” she added.

The US ambassador would seek instructions from the US administration on the Arab text during the night, but she commented: Again we will judge the draft as to whether it advances the goal of supporting an agreed cessation.”

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the Arab proposal, made through Morocco, is “a very good text”.

“If the statement is not adopted at 9:00 a.m. (1400 GMT) tomorrow morning we will go for a vote of our draft” on Wednesday afternoon.