UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution late Thursday calling for an immediate and durable cease-fire between Hamas militants and Israeli forces now fighting in the Gaza Strip.
The vote was 14-0, with the United States abstaining.
The vote followed three days of intense negotiations between ministers from key Arab nations and the council's veto-wielding Western powers - the United States, Britain and France. It 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.
The United States, Israel's closest ally, and Arab nations that have close ties to Hamas negotiated the text of the resolution. But it will be up to Israel and Hamas to decide to stop their military activities.
"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. "Our job here is to support the efforts for peace on the ground and to help turn the good words on paper into changes on the ground that are desperately needed."
The agreement came on the third day of an emergency council session demanded by the Arabs to try to end the fighting in Gaza.
Although passing a resolution at the U.N. doesn’t mean a ceasefire will be accepted by either Hamas or Israel, it means that the U.N. Security Council calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire and that the Arab League countries and the U.K. and France - which negotiated the deal - have agreed on the design of a ceasefire, reports CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk at the U.N.
In addition to the ceasefire, the resolution calls the unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance in Gaza, the re-opening of border crossings, and a crackdown on arms smuggling to Hamas, Falk reports.
On the political front, the resolution applauds the Egyptian initiative to bring Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to negotiations, encourages the reconciliation of Palestinian factions, and supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - an addition important to the Arab League, says Falk.
Israeli envoys went to Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday and held talks with Egyptian officials on an initiative by the presidents of Egypt and France that calls for a temporary truce. Hamas militants have yet to commit to coming to Cairo for talks and said they have major reservations about the plan.