* Council deadlocked on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
* Obama, UN chief spoke with leaders of Israel and Egypt
* Ban urges Netanyahu to avoid "new cycle of bloodshed"
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 14 The U.N. Security Council
held an emergency meeting on Wednesday night to discuss Israeli
strikes against the Gaza Strip b u t took no action, as Israel
threatened a wider offensive in the Palestinian enclave to stem
rocket salvoes by Hamas militants.
Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, president of the
15-nation Security Council this month, told reporters after the
90-minute closed-door meeting that council members had only
agreed to issue a communique stating that an emergency meeting
took place and other procedural details.
Speaking on behalf of India, not the Security Council, Puri
expressed the hope that the fact the council meeting took place
would help to ease tensions in the Middle East and prevent an
escalation of the conflict.
"The message that must be taken from this meeting is the
violence must stop," he said, adding that the council was
prepared to meet again on Gaza if necessary.
The Palestinians Authority had asked the council to issue a
statement urging Israel to halt its offensive, but no such
declaration was agreed.
Israel launched a new major offensive against Palestinian
Hamas militants in Gaza on Wednesday, killing Hamas' military
commander in an air strike and threatening an invasion of the
enclave that the Islamist group said would "open the gates of
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's press office said
earlier in two separate statements that he spoke on the
telephone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
President Mohamed Mursi of Egypt.
"(Ban) expressed his concern (to Netanyahu) about the
deteriorating situation in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip,
which includes an alarming escalation of indiscriminate rocket
fire from Gaza into Israel and the targeted killing by Israel of
a Hamas military operative in Gaza," the United Nations said.
Ban also voiced his expectation that "Israeli reactions are
measured so as not to provoke a new cycle of bloodshed."
He also discussed with Mursi "the need to prevent any
further deterioration," the United Nations said.
U.S. President Barack Obama also spoke with Netanyahu and
Mursi and reiterated U.S. support for Israel's right to
self-defense in light of rocket attacks from Gaza, the White
"The president urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to make every
effort to avoid civilian casualties. The two agreed that Hamas
needs to stop its attacks on Israel to allow the situation to
de-escalate," the White House statement said.
The emergency Security Council meeting came at the request
of Egypt, Morocco and the Palestinians.
"Once again the international community is witness to
Israel's malicious onslaught," the Palestinian Authority's U.N.
envoy, Riyad Mansour, told the Security Council.
"The Israeli occupying forces are now mobilizing on the
ground as we speak," Mansour said. "Fear and panic are spreading
among the Palestinian civilian population."
The militant group Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority,
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the council there was "no
justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist
organizations are employing against the people of Israel,"
according to the written text of her statement. "We call on
those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately."
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters as he left
the council that "we need to see how the situation develops."
Speaking to reporters, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor urged
the international community to condemn "indiscriminate rocket
fire against Israeli citizens - children, women." He was
referring to escalating Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza.
A group of Arab ambassadors appeared before reporters ahead
of the council meeting. Speaking on their behalf, Sudanese
Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman urged the council to
condemn Israel's "barbaric heinous attack."
In a letter to the Security Council, Mansour also called for
an end to "extrajudicial killing."
Prosor described the Hamas military commander killed by
Israel, Ahmed Al-Jaabari, as a "mass murderer" who had been
planning fresh attacks against Israeli citizens.
The council's failure to take any action was not a surprise.
It is generally deadlocked on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
which envoys say is due to the U.S. determination to protect
A new Gaza war has loomed for months as waves of Palestinian
rocket attacks and Israeli strikes have grown more intense and
Mansour said the Israeli action was intended to draw
attention away from the Palestinians' plan to seek an upgrade of
its observer status at the United Nations from that of an
"entity" to a "non-member state," implicitly recognizing
Israel and the United States have made clear they would
oppose the Palestinian upgrade, which would give it the right to
join international bodies like the International Criminal Court,
where it could file legal complaints against Israel.
U.N. diplomats said a vote on the Palestinian request was
tentatively scheduled for Nov. 29. A senior Western diplomat
said the Palestinians would easily secure 120 to 130 votes out
of the 193-nation General Assembly, which would ensure the
success of their upgraded status at the United Nations.
Prosor told the council that the Palestinian push for a
status upgrade was "march of folly."
"The Palestinian leadership is marching down a road that can
only lead to more conflict, instability and violence," he said.