Russia accuses U.S. of blocking Arab-backed U.N. Council statement on Gaza

Russia on Monday accused the United States of seeking to “filibuster” a U.N. Security Council statement on the Gaza crisis and said it could propose a full resolution on the conflict.

Russia’s U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin said one country on the 15-nation council indicated “quite transparently that they will not be prepared to go along with any reaction of the Security Council.” Churkin did not name the country but diplomats said the United States was holding up a statement sought by Arab nations.

Morocco, representing Arab countries on the 15-nation council, proposed a statement calling for a halt to the Israel-Hamas hostilities last Thursday.

Diplomats said the United States and other countries had proposed amendments to the text in talks on Monday. Churkin said one delegation had sought “quite extensive amendments” and that he suspected there was a bid to extend the talks.

“To me it unfortunately looked like a little bit of a filibuster attempt,” Churkin told reporters. The council was to meet again late Monday to discuss the statement.

Russia has already proposed a ministerial meeting of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East — the United States, Russia, United Nations and European Union — on the crisis.

Churkin said that if the statement was frustrated, his country could propose a Security Council resolution that calls for an immediate ceasefire, supports the Egyptian-Arab led mediation efforts and calls for resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

U.S. defends Israel

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama stressed the need for an end to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel in a telephone call to Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on Monday to discuss ways to de-escalate cross-border fighting in Gaza, the White House said.

Obama “underscored the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel” in his call to Mursi, the White House said in a statement. During the call, and in a separate one to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Obama voiced regret over the loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives, the White House said.

Obama made the calls from Cambodia, where he is attending the East Asian Summit of regional and world leaders, the White House said.

The Israeli cabinet met late on Monday to discuss an Egyptian proposal for ending six days of Gaza violence that has claimed more than 100 lives, public radio reported.

The report did not identify the points of Egypt’s plan, which emerged following a full day of indirect negotiations in Cairo on Sunday between Israeli officials and Palestinian representatives.alarabiya