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U.N. Security Council meets on Gaza violence

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss the violence in Gaza, with Arab countries pushing for a resolution to demand an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Envoys from the 15-nation council began with closed-door consultations but then moved into a formal public meeting.

Libya, the only Arab country on the council, was due to present a draft resolution but both Arab and Western diplomats said they doubted any vote would be held on Wednesday and would probably come in the next few days.

Earlier in a letter to the council presidency, Egyptian Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz asked for an emergency session “to consider the continued Israeli military aggression on the occupied Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip.”

He called for “an enforceable and binding resolution that would ensure immediate ceasefire, cessation of the Israeli military aggression, lifting of the blockade, opening of border-crossing points, end of the Israeli policy of collective punishment, providing international protection to the Palestinian people and ensuring calm.”

The council issued a statement on Sunday calling for a halt to the violence in Gaza but the United States, which holds a veto in the council, says any ceasefire must be durable and be binding on the Hamas Islamists who control Gaza, as well as on Israel.

Israel, which began air strikes on Gaza on Saturday to try to stamp out rocket fire on Israel by Palestinian militants, on Wednesday rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Reporting by Patrick Worsnip, Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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