UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council agreed on a statement Sunday calling for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire" in the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas and scheduled a meeting at midnight to adopt it.
The council will be meeting as Muslims start celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Its agreement to press for a cease-fire follows new attacks launched by Israel and Hamas despite going back and forth over proposals for another temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting.
A 12-hour lull Saturday was agreed to by both sides following intense U.S. and United Nations mediation efforts.
The presidential statement, obtained by The Associated Press, says a humanitarian cease-fire would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance. It urges Israel and Hamas "to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond."
The statement also calls on the parties "to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire, based on the Egyptian initiative."
Rwanda, the current council president, announced agreement Sunday night on the presidential statement and the immediate meeting. The statement was drafted by Jordan, the Arab representative on the U.N.'s most powerful body.
Presidential statements become part of the council's official record and must be approved at a council meeting. They are a step below Security Council resolutions, but unlike resolutions they require approval of all 15 members.
The statement agreed on Sunday never names either Israel or Hamas. Instead, it expresses "grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties."
The 20-day war has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel has lost 43 soldiers, as well as two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, according to the Israeli military.
The statement calls for "full respect" for international humanitarian law and reiterates "the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and their protection."
The statement also commends efforts by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to achieve a cease-fire. Ban is scheduled to address U.N. correspondents on Monday morning on his mission.
In the longer term, the statement urges the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace "with secure and recognized borders."