* Israel, Hamas agreed ceasefire on Wednesday
* Security Council calls for serious action on deal
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS , Nov 21 The U.N. Security
Council called on Israel and Hamas to uphold a ceasefire
agreement on Wednesday and commended the efforts of Egypt's
Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and others for brokering the
The 15-member council said in a statement it "deplored the
loss of civilian lives resulting from this situation and
reiterated the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the
safety and well-being of civilians and their protection in
accordance with international humanitarian law."
Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement agreed earlier on
Wednesday to an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire to halt the
eight-day conflict around the Gaza Strip that has killed more
than 162 Palestinians and five Israelis.
"The members of the council called on the parties to uphold
the agreement and to act seriously to implement its provisions
in good faith," it said. "The members of the council strongly
commend the efforts of Egyptian President Mursi and others to
achieve the ceasefire."
It also praised the efforts of U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon, who visited the region this week, and called on the
international community to provide emergency aid, including food
and medical supplies, for Palestinians in Gaza.
"We have to put an end to the options of war and to open the
gate for the option of peace, ending the occupation and
(bringing) independence for our state," Palestinian U.N.
observer, Riyad Mansour, told reporters.
He said President Mahmoud Abbas would visit New York next
week as the Palestinians seek an upgrade of its observer status
at the United Nations from that of an "entity" to a "non-member
state," implicitly recognizing Palestinian statehood.
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 in
the 193-nation General Assembly, which would ensure the success
of their upgraded status at the United Nations.
Israel and the United States have made clear they would
oppose the upgrade, which would give the Palestinians the right
to join bodies like the International Criminal Court, where it
could file legal complaints against Israel.
"The idea of going to the United Nations and avoiding
bilateral negotiations with Israel is wrong," Israel's Deputy
U.N. Ambassador Haim Waxman said of the Palestinian bid.
"The entire international community ... should look at what
has happened in the last week and think again because we have
seen a Palestinian authority that has zero authority in Gaza,"
he told reporters.
Israel withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip in 2005,
but maintained control over its borders. The United Nations says
it remains an occupied territory, along with the West Bank.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from the Western-backed Abbas in
2007 in a brief but bloody war with his Fatah movement. The
Palestine Liberation Organisation, led by Abbas, wants the West
Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem for an independent state.