8 January 2009 - Diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict moved into higher gear at United Nations Headquarters in New York today with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling senior officials in the region, the Security Council holding consultations and the General Assembly going into session.
Mr. Ban, who this morning telephoned Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and is trying to reach Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, “is appealing urgently to the Security Council to come to a binding agreement to this effect, so this devastating violence can be brought to an end,” spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.
“The Secretary-General continues his around-the-clock efforts with world leaders to achieve an immediate ceasefire in Gaza,” she added, noting that yesterday he held meetings with the United States Secretary of State, and the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, Egypt, France, Jordan, Norway and Saudi Arabia.
The Security Council held a two-day high-level meeting earlier this week but has not yet come up with a ceasefire resolution. The 15-member body is meeting again this evening to continue efforts to bring an end to the conflict, which erupted 13 days ago when Israel launched a military operation with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks into Israel.
The operation has so far killed 758 people in Gaza, of whom 257 were children and 56 women, with 3,100 wounded, 1,080 of them children and 452 women, according to Palestinian reports cited as credible by UN officials.
General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto chided the lack of action in announcing his decision to call a meeting of the Assembly, also this evening.
“I can’t stand the smell of formaldehyde,” he told a news briefing at Headquarters. “Rigor mortis seems to have taken over, and we are failing the world, we are failing the cause of peace,” he added, referring to “the dysfunctionality of the Security Council.”