The U.N. Security Council held a hastily scheduled meeting Wednesday night on the Middle East as criticism against Israel surged over a missile strike that killed a wanted Hamas leader and 15 others, including 10 children.
Palestinian representative Nasser al-Kidwa had been in consultations with Arab diplomats throughout the day Tuesday in an effort to galvanize support for a meeting of the powerful Security Council.
By early Wednesday, Saudi Arabia agreed to ask for the meeting on behalf of Arab states.
More than 30 ambassadors were speaking Wednesday night on the Mideast crisis. The council was expected to defer until a later session debate on a proposed resolution circulated by Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians that condemns "the continued Israeli military aggression against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority." The document doesn't mention deadly attacks against Israelis.
But U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte made a point of discussing two deadly attacks perpetrated by Palestinians last week that left more than 10 Israelis dead:
"These attacks are morally repugnant and rightfully of serious concern to the entire international community. We should question why they are not more often a focus of council attention."
The Associated Press quoted a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying the United States probably would oppose the resolution if it is put to a vote.
The United States has served as Israel's protector in the Security Council, often using its veto to prevent Mideast resolutions similar to the one introduced Wednesday. But even the United States, Israel's closest ally, rejected Israeli claims that it did not know there were civilians in the three-story apartment building in a densely populated Gaza neighborhood.
Aaron Jacob, deputy Israeli ambassador, called the draft "one-sided."
"It ignores the Palestinian responsibility for the current situation and places all the responsibility on the Israeli side," he said.