The Latest: US opposes UN resolution for Gaza cease-fire

UNITED NATIONS — The United States opposes a draft U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in the conflict between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers. The U.S. says it could interfere with the Biden administration’s efforts to end the hostilities.

France drafted the resolution after the U.S. earlier blocked at least four attempts to have the council issue a press statement calling for an end to hostilities.

A press statement requires agreement by all 15 council members. A resolution only requires at least nine “yes” votes and no veto by the United States or any of the four other permanent members.

A French spokesman had said “very intense discussions” were taking place Wednesday with the U.S. on the proposed resolution.

But the U.S. Mission to the U.N. said later “that we will not support actions that we believe undermine efforts to de-escalate.”

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UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees is urgently appealing for $38 million for emergency needs in Gaza as a result of conflict between Israel and the territory’s Hamas rulers.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency said Wednesday that it is already responding to the humanitarian needs of refugees and non-refugees, including tens of thousands of people who have sought safety in the agency’s schools and emergency shelters.

The agency says the $38 million is needed for an initial 30-day period to respond to a variety of immediate needs in Gaza including food, health care, psychological services, and water and sanitation. It also includes emergency needs in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, for health care, shelter, education, security and protection.

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BEIRUT — The leader the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group says militant factions in Gaza went into the latest battle with Israel knowing it will be “costly but also knowing that it is the only road to freedom and to protect Jerusalem.”

Ziad Nakhaleh said in a televised speech from Beirut on Wednesday that neither nuclear weapons, warplanes nor peace agreements with some Arab states could bring Israelis security and peace.

He added that militant groups in Gaza have “made miracles that you can see with your own eyes and you live them every moment when you run to shelters.”

Nakhaleh was referring to thousands of missiles and rockets that Gaza militants have fired toward Israel.

Nakhaleh said that after Israel’s moves that threatened the eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers in east Jerusalem, “we were in front of two choices, to surrender and to give them everything or fight them over everything.”

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JERUSALEM — Israel’s Foreign Ministry says foreign ministers from Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia will arrive in Israel on Thursday.

The ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the diplomats were invited by Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi “to express their solidarity and support” for Israel during its campaign against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

The visit comes as Israel faces mounting international pressure to de-escalate hostilities after 10 days of heavy fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

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JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met,” despite U.S. President Joe Biden’s call for a de-escalation of hostilities in Gaza.

In a statement from his office Wednesday, Netanyahu said that he “greatly appreciates the support of the American president,” but said Israel will push ahead “to return the calm and security to you, citizens of Israel.”

Earlier, Biden called for “significant de-escalation” by day’s end from Netanyahu after 10 days of heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

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CAIRO — An Egyptian diplomat says some of the country’s top officials are waiting for Israel’s response to a cease-fire offer, and that they expect amendments to their proposal.

He says they hope France’s increasing efforts could spur the United States to exert its influence on Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to stop the fighting as soon as possible.

He added that if that doesn’t happen, there are some discussions among Arab and Islamic nations, along with China, to put the issue before the U.N. General Assembly in an effort to bypass the Security Council and the U.S.’s veto power there.

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Egypt has been trying to broker a cease-fire between neighboring Israel and Hamas, as it is one of a handful of countries that maintains official ties with both.

— Samy Magdy in Cairo.

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BERLIN — Germany’s foreign ministry is confirming that the nation’s top diplomat will make a one-day trip to Israel and the West Bank on Thursday for talks with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The ministry said Wednesday that Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will meet the Israeli foreign and defense ministers, as well as President Reuven Rivlin.

He will also meet the Palestinian prime minister in Ramallah.

Maas had said earlier Wednesday that he hoped to fly to Israel but coordination hadn’t yet been completed.

Maas has called for an end to an immediate stop to “rocket terror” by the Hamas militant group, which controls Gaza, a cease-fire and efforts to restart direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

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TEHRAN, Iran — A top Iranian general says the balance of power in the Middle East has changed with the Palestinians’ ability to launch so many missiles against Israel.

State TV is reporting Wednesday that Gen. Hossein Salami, chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, said Israel has become weaker and the Palestinians have become stronger and more powerful.

Salami says: “Palestinians could destroy all Israeli industrial facilities and air bases with missiles.”

Palestinian militants have fired more than 3,700 rockets at Israel, with hundreds falling short and many others intercepted. The rockets have reached a number of Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv, and have brought life to a standstill in areas near Gaza.

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports anti-Israeli militant groups like Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has called for “significant de-escalation” by day’s end from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden’s appeal on Wednesday comes after 10 days of heavy fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.

It was Biden’s toughest public pressure so far on the U.S. ally, with the president asking Netanyahu in a telephone call to move toward “the path to a cease-fire,” according to a White House statement on their conversation.

Pressure has been mounting on Biden, too, to do more as the death toll in the conflict has topped 200.

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BEIRUT — Lebanese security officials said several rockets were fired from south Lebanon toward Israel, the third such barrage in the past week.

The Israeli military said it identified four rockets fired Wednesday from Lebanon into northern Israel. One landed in an open area, two landed in the sea, and one was intercepted by aerial defenses. Residents of the city of Shfaram, east of Haifa, said one rocket landed near the town.

The Lebanese officials said the latest rockets were launched from the outskirts of the southern Lebanese village of Qlayleh. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The rocket attack, which drew Israeli artillery fire in response but apparently did not cause any injuries, raised the possibility of dragging Israel into renewed conflict with the powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to its north as it fights Hamas in Gaza.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, and Hezbollah, which fought a monthlong war against Israel in 2006, has stayed out of the fighting for now. But the barrage appears to be carefully calibrated to send a political message that the group, which has tens of thousands of missiles, could join the battle at any time.

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BERLIN — German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says he hopes to fly to Israel for talks Thursday with Israelis and Palestinians on the conflict in Gaza.

Asked to confirm Israeli media reports about such a trip, Maas told journalists in Berlin that “I can’t tell you 100%, because of course we coordinate such a trip with those to whom we’re travelling.”

He said that coordination hadn’t been completed yet.

“But yes, my plan is to fly to Israel tonight and hold talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah,” Maas said.

Earlier, Germany’s top diplomat had ruled out talking to the Palestinian militant group Hamas that controls Gaza.

“After the events of recent days there is no reason to talk directly with Hamas,” he said. “Those are terrorist attacks that are being carried out by Hamas in Israel and which in my view completely rule out talking without intermediaries, directly to Hamas.”

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PARIS — A French government spokesman says “very intense discussions” are underway with the United States about a United Nations Security Council resolution that has been proposed by France in coordination with Egypt and Jordan.

The proposed resolution aims at ending hostilities between Israel and Hamas militants who control Gaza.

The United States has blocked the U.N.’s most powerful body from issuing a press statement calling for a halt to the violence, insisting that it would not help diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi held talks in Paris earlier this week on the issue and they had a meeting on Tuesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II via video conference.

In a joint statement, France, Egypt and Jordan said they “called on the parties to immediately agree on a ceasefire.”

They also said they will work with the U.N. and other partners to ensure humanitarian help for the population of Gaza.

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CAIRO — The Arab League Parliament has convened an extraordinary meeting in Cairo to express solidarity with the Palestinians and condemn Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Those in attendance at the meeting Wednesday wore traditional Palestinian black-and-white scarves in a sign of support.

The Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said: “The truth is becoming crystal clear now with all its ugliness and hideousness: we are before a colonizing people that lives under an apartheid state and an occupation government that systematically practices ethnic cleansing.”

Others also criticized Israel, with Arab Parliament Speaker Adel Al-Asoumi accusing Israel of “war crimes and of full-fledged crimes against humanity.”

In a televised speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed Arab delegates, calling Jerusalem “the essence of the Palestinian national identity.”

He said: “Without it, there will be no peace, no security, no stability and no agreement.

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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Israel is carrying out “organized state terrorism and war crimes” in Gaza that are punishable under international law.

In a televised address Wednesday, he said the Palestinians “will not hesitate to pursue those who commit such crimes in front of international courts.”

Abbas is the head of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority, whose forces were driven from Gaza when the militant Hamas group seized power in 2007. The PA has limited autonomy in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court launched an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinian militants during the last Gaza war, in 2014. It has expressed concern about the latest round of fighting.

Abbas accused Israel of “brutal attacks on civilians and deliberate bombardment of homes.” Israel says it only strikes militant targets and makes every effort to avoid harming civilians, including by warning people ahead of some strikes.

Hamas and other militant groups have launched hundreds of rockets into Israel. The indiscriminate fire is widely seen as violating international law.

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ISLAMABAD– Pakistan’s foreign minister has denounced Israel’s continued airstrikes against the Gaza Strip in a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi made his comment during a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki during a visit to Turkey. Qureshi will travel next to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly to demand an immediate halt to Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.

According to a foreign ministry statement, Qureshi denounced Israel’s attacks on Palestinians. The statement also quotes al-Maliki praising Pakistan’s efforts aimed at mobilizing international support for the Palestinians.

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TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli military officials say a mysterious explosion that killed eight members of a Palestinian family on the first day of the current round of fighting in the Gaza Strip was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said the rocket was launched in Gaza and fell inside Gaza and killed “almost an entire family.” Conricus added that “this wasn’t an Israeli attack.”

A senior military officer on Wednesday said the incident was investigated, and Israel did not strike the Beit Hanoun area where the family members were killed that night.

The officer said a total of 700 rockets — roughly one-fifth of the total launched by Palestinian militants — failed to reach Israel and landed inside Gaza. He provided no further estimates on how many Palestinians had been harmed by errant rocket fire. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines.

At least 219 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes, including 63 children and 36 women, with 1,530 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. It does not break down how many militants are among the dead or whether people have died from misfired rockets.

Israel says Hamas is responsible for civilian deaths because the militant group uses residential areas for cover to fire rockets and carry out other military operations. Twelve people in Israel have also been killed, 10 by rocket fire aimed at Israeli towns and cities. Two people died in accidents while rushing for shelter.

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TEL AVIV, Israel — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is pursuing “forceful deterrence” against Gaza’s Hamas rulers and does not rule out a further escalation.

Meeting with foreign ambassadors on Wednesday, he said “you can either conquer them, and that’s always an open possibility, or you can deter them.”

“We are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say, we don’t rule out anything.”

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against what it says are militant targets in Gaza since the fourth war between the two sides broke out earlier this month. Hamas and other militants have fired more than 3,700 rockets at Israel.

Netanyahu said Israel hopes to restore quiet “quickly” and is doing everything it can to avoid civilian casualties.

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli airstrikes have killed at least six people overnight across the Gaza Strip and destroyed the home of an extended family.

Despite growing international pressure for a cease-fire, the military said Wednesday it widened its strikes on militant targets in the Palestinian territory’s south to blunt continuing rocket fire from Hamas.

Residents surveyed the piles of bricks, concrete and other debris that had once been the home of 40 members of al-Astal family. They said everyone escaped after a warning missile hit the house.

The Israeli military says it struck militant targets around the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah.

Gaza health officials say at least 219 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes. Twelve people in Israel have been killed in rocket attacks.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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