UNITED NATIONS – The Palestinian observer to the United Nations on Monday called for a cease-fire to end an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 50 Palestinians in the last six days.
Riyad Mansour said the Palestinians were also willing to accept U.N. observers to monitor the cease-fire along the Gaza-Israel border.
He said U.N. ambassadors from Arab states held an emergency meeting Monday to discuss the Israeli offensive along the northern Gaza border, which Israel says is aimed at halting Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli communities near the coastal strip.
He asked for an open meeting of the U.N. Security Council and said the ambassadors would prepare a draft resolution that would condemn the Israeli action and call for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.
“We are the ones who are suffering immensely,” Mansour told a news conference. “In spite of that, we are the ones who are willing to honor and respect a mutual cease-fire.”
At least seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Monday, including a female suicide bomber.
Early this morning, Israeli forces pulled out of the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, the military said. The forces took up new positions inside the Gaza Strip but outside the town. Residents reported troops and tanks withdrawing from the town overnight.
Mansour said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also sent a letter to the council president saying the escalation of violence in the past six days had made it difficult for the Palestinians to finalize plans to form a national unity government and make it possible to exchange prisoners with Israel.
Abbas, of the moderate Fatah movement, and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, of Hamas, met Monday but failed to agree on a joint government that might lead to lifting Western sanctions that have bankrupted their administration.
Israel’s deputy U.N. ambassador Daniel Carmon rejected Mansour’s statement, saying the Palestinian government must act instead to halt rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.