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US locks in UN resolution backing efforts to broker Gaza truce

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.S. on Thursday finalized its draft U.N. Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war, traditionally the final step before asking for a vote on the text that would back international efforts to broker an immediate ceasefire as part of a hostage release deal.

The final draft, seen by Reuters "unequivocally supports international diplomatic efforts to establish an immediate and sustained ceasefire as part of a deal that releases the hostages, and that allows the basis for a more durable peace to alleviate humanitarian suffering."

It was not immediately clear when or if the U.S. would ask the 15-member council to vote on the text negotiated over the past month. To pass, a resolution needs at least nine votes and no vetoes by the U.S., France, Britain, Russia or China.

The U.S. could still make further changes to the draft.

The U.S. has wanted any Security Council support for a ceasefire to be linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The U.S.-drafted council resolution condemns the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and emphasizes concern that an Israeli ground offensive into Rafah in southern Gaza "would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries."

Washington had been averse to the word ceasefire.

During the five-month long war, it has vetoed three draft resolutions, two which would have demanded an immediate ceasefire. Most recently, the U.S. justified its veto by saying such council action could jeopardize efforts by the U.S., Egypt and Qatar to broker a pause in the war and release of hostages.

The U.S. traditionally shields Israel at the United Nations, but it has also abstained twice, allowing the council to adopt resolutions that aimed to boost aid to Gaza and called for extended pauses in fighting.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Gregorio)