UNSC to meet on Gaza resolution

Abbas expected to plead for UN action in New York; Gillerman: We expect very little from UN.

Abbas 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The UN Security Council has scheduled a meeting for late Tuesday afternoon to discuss adoption a resolution to halt the violence in Gaza. On Monday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki told reporters that he was optimistic that the US would accept an Arab resolution that includes provisions for a permanent ceasefire, an end to the Gaza blockade, and the opening of border crossings with both Israel and Egypt under the supervision of international observers. "We are here with the expectation that all the members of the Security Council will work in a positive spirit with us in order to reach agreement on a draft resolution," Malki said. The Security Council failed Saturday night to pass a statement proposed by Libya calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza after the US vetoed it as "unbalanced." U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the United States, Israel's closest ally on the council, shared Arab concerns "about the urgency of the situation" and the goal of moving rapidly, but he warned against "false expectations." He said it would take more than a "a day or so" to get "an enduring solution to the problem, an enduring cease-fire." "Practical arrangements have to be put in place in which everyone has confidence that it will be maintained, it will be respected, it will be observed," he said. Khalilzad said that a cease-fire must deal with Hamas' rocketing of southern Israel as well as the Israeli military operations and that the council must also address issues related to opening border crossings to let humanitarian supplies flow in freely while halting arms smuggling into Gaza. The council meeting, set for late Tuesday afternoon, will be presided over by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the council's rotating presidency, French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said. "We would like to have a resolution as soon as possible and as soon as feasible," Ripert told reporters. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and the foreign ministers of Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco were at U.N. headquarters Monday meeting with envoys from other Arab nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council members. Other Arab foreign ministers, including from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, were scheduled to arrive Tuesday to show Arab unity and support for a quick and permanent solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be in New York to plead the case for UN action. Abbas, who in the initial days of the air assault on Gaza blamed Hamas for inviting the strikes by continuing rocket fire into Negev towns, has condemned the ground invasion as "brutal aggression." UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said in a statement released late Sunday that he would actively work with members of the Security Council to reach consensus on "bringing a speedy end to the conflict." Ban also recalled his special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, to New York for a briefing. Israeli diplomats have largely shrugged off the UN amid a frenzy of shuttle diplomacy that included a visit to Israel Monday by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, which currently leads the Security Council. "We are not asking anything from the UN and frankly we expect very little from the UN - as far as the Middle East it's been totally ineffective and hasn't provided an ounce of improvement to the lives of any Palestinian or Israeli," said former Israeli UN envoy Dan Gillerman on a conference call Monday. "At this stage in our case I would not expect the UN or the Security Council to play any role in resolving this crisis," Gillerman said. US diplomats, who are pushing for a cease-fire agreement outside of UN channels, have said they would not accept a resolution that would stop short of holding Hamas accountable for halting rocket fire on Israel.