Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, David Miliband, the British foreign minister, and Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, had put the new proposal to Arab foreign ministers at the UN earlier on Thursday.

Arab foreign ministers had been discussing the new plan to end the Israeli offensive, in which more than 700 Palestinians have been killed including more than 200 children.

Rice said after the meeting the UK had presented Arab ministers with something that could form the basis of a "consensus text" on a Security Council resolution.

Egyptian-French plan

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Israel has opposed the idea of the Security Council taking any action on the Gaza crisis, whether through a resolution or a non-binding statement.

The US delegation had also been opposed to a resolution but diplomats told Reuters they had dropped their objections and were prepared to back a text that would require what US officials have repeatedly described as a "durable" ceasefire.

Amid continued diplomatic activity on Wednesday, Egyptian officials said that an Israeli team would travel to Cairo for talks on an Egyptian-French ceasefire initiative but it was not clear if members of the Palestinian group Hamas and the Palestinian Authority would attend.

The Egyptian-French initiative would see an immediate temporary truce to allow aid into Gaza, negotiations and measures to prevent arms smuggling from Egypt into Gaza.

Libya, currently the only Arab nation serving as a non-permanent member of the security council, had been urging council members to back its own version of a resolution, although the US had blocked an earlier Libyan draft that Washington and its allies saw as being anti-Israeli.