UN demands 'full withdrawl' of Israeli forces from Gaza
Agence France-Presse
Published: Thursday January 8, 2009

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UNITED NATIONS, (AFP) The UN Security Council voted to call for an "immediate, durable" ceasefire in the Gaza Strip leading to the "full withdrawal" of Israeli forces, but the United States abstained.

Fourteen of the council's 15 members voted in favor of the compromise resolution worked out in three days of intense bargaining involving several Arab foreign ministers, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

The text "stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza."

It "calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment" and welcomes initiatives aimed at "creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid."

Resolution 1860 also "condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism" and urged member states to intensify efforts for arrangements and guarantees in Gaza "to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the reopening of the crossing points (into Gaza)."

It "welcomes the Egyptian initiative (the three-point truce proposal unveiled by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Tuesday) and other regional and international efforts that are under way."

Mubarak invited Israel and the Palestinians to Cairo for talks on conditions for a truce, on securing Gaza borders, reopening of its crossings and lifting the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

The US abstention vote cast by Rice came as a surprise as diplomats indicated earlier that they expected the text to get unanimous support.

The vote capped a day of high drama in which Arab ministers had threatened to press for a vote on their own draft.

US Arab ministers welcomed the adoption as they were under strong pressure from their public opinion to secure an immediate end to Israel's 13-day military onslaught in Gaza that has killed more than 760 Palestinians.