The UN Security Council scheduled a Wednesday vote on a resolution that initially condemned the heinous terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel as well as all violence against civilians, while calling for humanitarian pauses to deliver desperately needed aid to millions in Gaza.
Negotiations on wording of the draft resolution sponsored by Brazil continued throughout Tuesday, and the final version to be voted on had not been released by late Tuesday.
The vote follows the council's rejection Monday evening of a Russian-drafted resolution that condemned violence and terrorism against civilians and called for a humanitarian cease-fire but made no mention of Hamas.
Russia has proposed two amendments to the Brazil resolution that will be voted on first. One calls for a humanitarian cease-fire. The other would condemn indiscriminate attacks on civilians and assaults on civilian objects in Gaza like hospitals and schools that deprive people of the means to survive.
Brazil holds the Security Council presidency this month and its UN mission said the vote would be followed by an emergency meeting to discuss Tuesday's huge explosion and fire at a Gaza City hospital packed with patients, relatives and Palestinians seeking shelter. The Hamas-run health ministry said at least 500 died.
Russia, the United Arab Emirates and China called for the emergency session, at which UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo and UN Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland were to brief council members.
Israel and the Palestinians accused each other of being responsible for the hospital carnage. Hamas said it was from an Israeli airstrike. Israel blamed a misfired rocket by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad denied any involvement.
The divided Security Council has been even more polarized since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and whether its five veto-wielding permanent members the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France would support the Brazil resolution or abstain in the vote remained to be seen.
To be adopted, a resolution needs at least nine of the 15 council members to vote yes and no veto by a permanent member.
The council vote was taking place amid frantic diplomatic efforts to prevent the Israeli-Hamas conflict from spreading. US President Joe Biden was on a lightning trip to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try to prevent the war's expansion in the region and to open corridors for the delivery of aid to Gazans.
After the hospital blast, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas backed out of a meeting with Biden, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and King Abdullah II of Jordan, leading the Jordanians to cancel the meeting,
The 22-member Arab Group at the United Nations expressed outrage at the hospital deaths and called for an immediate cease-fire to avoid further Palestinian casualties, the opening of a corridor to safely deliver aid to millions in Gaza, and the prevention of any forced evacuation of people from the territory.
Egypt's UN ambassador, Osama Mahmoud, told reporters that a summit will take place Saturday in Cairo as scheduled with regional leaders and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The five permanent Security Council nations are also invited, he said.
Mahmoud said the summit will address the humanitarian crisis sparked by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, how to achieve a cease-fire, and whether any serious attempt to have a political horizon exists to tackle the issues blocking an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.