( iafrica.com ) - The Security Council early on Sunday condemned the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and urged all parties to respect their obligations under international law.
After emergency talks called to discuss Saturday's deadly Israeli incursion in Gaza, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the council chair this month, read out a statement saying members "underscore the need for all parties to immediately cease all acts of violence".
Israeli forces killed 61 Palestinians in a land and air blitz in the Hamas-held Gaza Strip on Saturday in response to rocket-firing into Israel by Gaza-based militants.
Council members "are deeply concerned about the loss of civilian life in southern Israel and Gaza and condemn the escalation of violence that has taken place", Churkin added.
The council members stressed that the violence "must not be allowed to deter the political process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at establishing two states - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security," the Russian envoy said.
Churkin spoke after the council held nearly five hours of hard-nosed consultations, at the request of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, on the Israeli air and land assault on besieged Gaza.
Libya, the lone Arab member of the 15-member council, circulated a draft resolution on behalf of Arab states that "strongly condemns the killing of innocent civilians, including children" by Israeli forces.
The text also calls for "an immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including military attacks and the firing of rockets, and calls upon all parties to respect the ceasefire".
Council members agreed to have their experts try to reconcile differences over the draft on Monday.