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Ban asks UNSC to help end Middle East crisis

world Updated: Jan 06, 2009 20:59 IST
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United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has asked the divided Security Council and the world community to help bring a "speedy" end to escalating crisis in the Middle East.

Ban will also meet with Arab ministers, who are here to press for the passage of the Libyan draft resolution in the Council.

As the death toll among Palestinians rose to more than 500 and Israel showed no signs of halting its ground invasion of Gaza, Ban decided to convene a meeting of his top advisers and recalled his Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry from Jerusalem for a first hand briefing.

But the Libyan draft, which condemns Israeli invasion and calls for immediate halt to the military action by Tel Aviv, has been described as "one-sided" and "unacceptable" by the United States.

The US has blocked an attempt to pass in the Security Council to express serious concern over the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza after eight days of air strikes and to call for an immediate ceasefire

"Given the crucial juncture at which we have arrived in the search for a ceasefire, I appeal to all members of the international community to display the unity and commitment required to bring this escalating crisis to an end," Ban said.

But American deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, who blocked any action by the Council Saturday, has made it clear that Washington regards Hamas, which rules Gaza, as the "root cause" of the current trouble and must stop firing rockets into southern Israel.

Tel Aviv was only exercising the right of self-defense and trying to protect its citizens, he had said.

The Arabs will find it difficult to accept any formulation that criticises Hamas as it would not be popular among their constituencies and might also bring on them the wrath of Hamas.

Regretting that the Security Council could not reach a consensus on the action needs to be taken at its emergency session Saturday night, Ban pledged to work with its members, the Arab leaders and other key players in an effort to forge a consensus.

"I believe the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, has a central role to play in bringing a speedy end to the conflict," he said.

He said he remain "extremely concerned" about the deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground.

"We are in close contact with the Israeli authorities to press them to open not only the Kerem Shalom crossing, but also Karni and Nahd Oz, to allow in, particularly, wheat grain and fuel for the power plant, as well as other essential supplies," Ban said.