UN Security Council agrees to meet Tuesday to discuss situation in Gaza


United Nations : The UN Security Council, in response to an Arab Group request, has decided to hold an open meeting Tuesday to discuss the situation in Gaza in light of Israel’s siege of the region.

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The group’s chairman, Saudi Arabia, sent a letter to the council president, Libya, late Monday following a meeting of the group, calling for a council “urgent meeting to consider Israeli aggression in the occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem.”

The council also decided to postpone until Jan 30 the monthly briefing to the council on the situation in the Middle East, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday.

The council diplomats are drafting a text which would call on Israel to lift its closure of the border crossings, allow humanitarian goods to reach the deprived population and to return electricity for medical and other purposes.

While the Palestinian delegation prefers the text to be a resolution, other council members want it to be just a presidential statement.

The Council’s 15 members, Palestine, Israel, Syria and the chairmen of regional groups are scheduled to address the council Tuesday.

In a letter to the council president late Monday, Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour said “immediate action must be undertaken” to ensure the entry of essential supplies and the restoration of fuel to the Gaza Strip.

“We call upon the members of the international community to shoulder their responsibilities and to urgently intervene to bring a halt to this punishment of the Palestinian people, to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, to stem the deterioration of the security situation and to salvage the fragile peace process that will surely collapse under the weight of such ongoing illegal Israeli policies and practices,” he said.

“For all of these war crimes, state terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” he added.

The UN Relief Agency tasked with helping Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) warned on Monday that it may have to halt its food distribution and other key operations inside the Gaza Strip if the closures continue at the crossing points into Gaza.

Before leaving for Geneva late Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to “share his concerns over developments in Gaza and Southern Israel,” his press office said in a statement, in reference to the rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.