By David Haggith
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (Worthy News) — UN chief Ban Ki-moon tried to bring an immediate end to Israel’s ground war in the Gaza Strip by backing a resolution to the Security Council that was drafted by Libya and put forward by the Arab League, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Speaking to Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, he “conveyed his extreme concern and disappointment” over Israel’s actions in Gaza, according to a statement released by Ban Ki-moon’s office, monitored by Worthy News Monday, January 5.
The U.N. Secretary’s call for a ceasefire yielded no immediate results, however. The U.N. Security Council held a special meeting, it’s third since the situation erupted on December 27, but the Washington blocked the proposed resolution. Arab states criticized the fifteen-member Council for not doing its job to stop violence in Gaza.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, however, said the cessation of violence would require cooperation by Arab states such as Egypt, in putting an end to tunnels that apparently allow the militant Hamas group to smuggle weapons into Gaza. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband stated, “We are determined to work as quickly as possible for a durable ceasefire which must include an end to the smuggling of arms into Gaza and the opening of the Gaza crossings.”
The U.S. State Department agreed: “It is obvious that that ceasefire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a cease-fire that is durable, sustainable, and not time limited.”
The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Zalmay Khalilzad, said there has been no evidence that Hamas is even willing to end its rocket attacks, and U.S. Deputy Ambassador, Alejandro Wolff, stressed that any resolution adopted at this time “would not be adhered to [by Hamas] and would have no underpinning for success, [so it] would not do credit to the council.”
While the Arab League resolution criticized Israel’s retaliatory tactics, it made no reference to Hamas rocket attacks over past years that Israel said forced it to a military response. The U.S. defended its decision to veto, the cease-fire resolution, saying it was “unbalanced” and “one-sided.”
Instead, the Security Council issued a press statement, calling on Israel and Palestinians to immediately halt all violence. Press statements are different than resolutions as that they are not legally binding.
Officials in Jerusalem expressed satisfaction over the blocking of the Security Council resolution. They cautioned, however, that, even if the next meeting on Wednesday does pass a resolution for a ceasefire, “it’s no big deal,” as it would not immediately halt Israel’s military actions aimed at ending the Hamas’ rocket attacks against the Jewish state.
Israel’s U.N. Ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, said, “Israel cannot, and will not, allow its citizens to be sitting ducks for terrorist attacks. Israel will continue to take all necessary measures to protect its citizens and stop terrorism. Hamas must not only stop the fire but must give guarantees that this is the end of the barrage of rockets and mortars over Israel.”
Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, added that, the world “makes it more clear that it understands that Israel is acting out of self-defense, the more Hamas understands that the situation in the region has really changed.”
Israel’s ground offensive began Saturday, January 3, after eight days of air strikes, against the Hamas-run strip. More than 450 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded in the largest military action by Israel since the 2006 war in Lebanon, according to Palestinian sources.
The Arabic word “hamas” can mean zeal, enthusiasm, fire, ardor, fervor or fanaticism, experts say. Used as an Arabic acronym HaMaS is the short form of Harakat al-Muqawima al-Islamiyya, which means ‘The Islamic Resistance Movement’. The United States along with the European Union has deemed Hamas a terrorist organization. Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Over the past 8 years Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, according to international observers.