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UNITED NATIONS (Map, News) - In a surprise move, the United States abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote Thursday night urging an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, saying it wanted to see the results of Egyptian-mediated talks with Hamas and Israel before calling for a halt to military action.
The 14-0 U.N. vote came on the 13th day of an Israeli air and ground offensive against the Islamic group Hamas which rules Gaza and has been launching rockets and mortars into southern Israel for years. It followed three days of intense negotiations between ministers from key Arab nations and the council's veto-wielding Western powers - the U.S., Britain and France.
Israel and Hamas were not parties to the vote and it will now be up to them to stop the fighting. But the text of the resolution was hammered out by the United States, Israel's chief ally, and by Arab nations that have ties to Hamas and the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories.
"We are all very conscious that peace is made on the ground while resolutions are written in the United Nations," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.