Diplomats: UN Security Council's impasse on Gaza statement persists

( dpa )- The UN Security Council met Thursday for the third time this week to try to agree on a statement on the situation in the Gaza Strip, but was able to reach an agreement because of objections from the United States, diplomats said.

The 15-nation council decided following a closed-door session to try to meet again later in the day, but diplomats said they feared the impasse may not be overcome soon. The US on Tuesday voiced disapproval of any statement that would single out Israel in the conflict with Hamas militants now controlling Gaza Strip.

"The United States wants to amend the text, including bringing in the causes and effects of the crisis," said one Asian diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The history of the Middle East is long."

The draft under discussion was revised Wednesday, and would have the council expressing the council's "deep concern about the steep deterioration of the humanitarian situation" in Gaza because of the closure of border crossings, the cutting off of power and the prevention of delivery of food and medical supplies.

On Wednesday, several council members said one unnamed country was holding up the issuance of the so-called presidential statement, which would be read by the council president. Such statements must receive approval from all 15 council members.

The draft would urge Israel to abide by its international obligations and law.

"In this context, it calls upon Israel to ensure unhindered access for humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people to alleviate the situation, and to open the border crossing to facilitate the passage of imports and exports and access of humanitarian workers to the Gaza Strip," the draft said.

It would request the international community to continue to provide emergency and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

The draft said: "The Security Council also expresses its deep concern about the recent violence affecting Gaza and communities in southern Israel. The council calls on all parties to immediately cease all acts of violence, including the firing of rockets into Israel territory and all activities which are contrary to international law and endanger civilians."

Since the flare-up of fighting between Israel and Hamas on January 15, the council held a first meeting on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Gaza.

On Wednesday, Palestinian militants blew numerous holes in a wall along the border with Egypt in response to the Israeli siege aimed at ending rocket attacks into Israel that cut off supplies to the tiny Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas .

The World Food Programme said Thursday that there was a "serious food crisis in Gaza Strip as a result of the seven-month economic blockade."

WFP said its access to the territory has become restricted by new Israeli measures and border closures. It said three-quarters of the population of more than 1.3 million Palestinians are relying on food aid.

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