The United States on Tuesday blocked a UN Security Council statement condemning the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, setting the scene for a possible showdown between Washington and Russia on the issue.
The United States opposed the statement - which had to be approved by consensus - because it "failed to address the root cause" of the escalation in fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, said Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
Israel said it was Hamas rocket attacks that prompted its major offensive against the militants in Gaza on Wednesday.
"We made clear that we would measure any action by the Security Council based on whether it supported the ongoing diplomacy toward de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities," Pelton said.
"By failing to call for the immediate and permanent halt to rocket launches from Gaza into Israel, this press statement failed to contribute constructively to those goals," she said.
Russia has said if the 15-member council can not agree on a statement it would put a resolution - a stronger move by the council than a statement - to a vote calling for an end to the violence and showing support for regional and international efforts to broker peace.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet to discuss the conflict this afternoon.
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