January 3, 2009 / 5:25 PM / in 11 years

Egypt says Security Council "not doing its job"

CAIRO, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Egypt accused the United Nations Security Council on Saturday of "not doing its job" because it failed to take action a week after Israel began bombing Gaza.

"No one should leave an operation such as this for seven days," Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in an interview on Egyptian television, according to a BBC Monitoring transcript.

Aboul Gheit compared the U.N. council reaction to Israel’s bombing of Gaza, which has killed at least 446 Palestinians, to its response to Israel’s invasion of south Lebanon in 2006.

"In Lebanon, it took (the council) 33 days" to issue a resolution, he said. Some 1,200 people died in Lebanon and 158 Israelis died during Israel’s attack on Lebanon.

A Wednesday session of the Security Council adjourned without a vote on Gaza and diplomats said negotiations would be held in coming days over a draft resolution presented by Libya, which Western delegates described as unbalanced.

"It (the council) thinks that Israel will achieve something. Israel will not achieve anything and we should understand that Israel will not achieve anything in Gaza," Aboul Gheit said.

In a foreign ministry statement on Saturday, Aboul Gheit said the Security Council should call for an immediate cessation of hostilities "even if this necessitates that it subsequently issue another resolution that sets up the mechanisms that will govern the situation between the parties in coming days."

Israeli denies that its aim is to topple Hamas, but says the rocket attacks must stop before it halts operations.

In the interview, Aboul Gheit said critics urging Egypt to open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza were trying to draw Egypt into confrontation with Israel. Egypt has ruled out opening Rafah in the absence of the Palestinian Authority and European Union observers.

"Those who lead us to this confrontation from outside the region will not lose anything, and then Egypt alone will shoulder the responsibility of this confrontation," he said.

On Saturday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also criticised the Security Council for not responding faster. (Writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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