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International push for peace

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council called Saturday for a cease-fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict centered on the Gaza Strip.

A council statement approved by all 15 members calls for de-escalation of the violence, restoration of calm, and a resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution.

The statement calls for “the reinstitution of the November 2012 cease-fire,” but gives no time frame for when it should take effect.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair, the envoy of the so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators – the United States, the U.N., the European Union and Russia – met Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to prod him into a more active role in mediating a truce. Egypt has brokered such cease-fires in the past, but el-Sissi’s hostility to Hamas has made him reluctant to intervene.

In a sign of increasing international pressure to end the conflict, British Foreign Secretary William Hague also called for a cease-fire Saturday and said he would meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of Germany and France in Vienna today to discuss a halt to the fighting.

Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour said Arab foreign ministers will also meet Monday “to continue the effort to stop the aggression against our people.”


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