UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council will hold an emergency session on the situation in Gaza, diplomats said.
The meeting will start at midnight New York time (0400 GMT Monday) and the 15 members of the panel are expected to adopt a declaration calling for a ceasefire in the war-torn enclave, according to the diplomats.
A draft of the declaration obtained by AFP shows that the Council is poised to express "strong support" for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed assistance".
The document urges "all parties to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond", referring to the Muslim festival ending the month-long fast of Ramadan.
It "emphasises that civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected" and "urges the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace".
The document also stresses "the need for immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip". The emergency session comes after Israel and Hamas ignored calls for a truce and the raging conflict enters its third week on Monday. So far, the fighting has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians, 43 Israeli soldiers and three civilians inside Israel.
President Barack Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday and "made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement" brokered by Egypt.
According to a White House statement, the US president stressed the need to "ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarisation of Gaza", while reiterating "serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives". Israeli media, meanwhile, said Netanyahu's security cabinet was holding a meeting extending from Sunday evening into Monday to discuss the next steps in Gaza. — AFP