WASHINGTON - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in his effort to put together an agreed upon resolution for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is holding a series of meetings with Arab leaders in New York Tuesday. Ban is expected to meet with US President George W. Bush at the White House.
This flurry of meetings is in order for Ban to have an agreed upon draft ceasefire to be put on the table before at the Security Council meeting Wednesday.
Ban, having cast heavy criticism on Israel for its Operation Cast Lead as well as having expressed disappointment on the Security Council's inability to put together a resolution, met with Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa and Arab foreign ministers at the UN Headquarters.
At the end of the meeting, Ban said that a decision was reached to work together so that the Security Council can pass a comprehensive resolution that is decisive and reliable and will bring an immediate end to the crisis, allowing humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Later Tuesday, the Ban will meet with Bush in Washington. Following this, he is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in advance of the Security Council meeting Wednesday that will discuss ways in which the violence can be stopped in the Gaza Strip.
The UN secretary general will chair Wednesday's meeting as the provisional president of the Security Council. The meeting will be held as an open session during which a number of various figures will speak, including Ban himself, Palestinian President Abbas, and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Israel is hoping that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will succeed in her diplomatic efforts outside the UN framework to reach a decision that will be acceptable by Israel's standards as well as enjoying broad support in the Security Council. Rice met on Monday with 9 of her colleagues from Europe and the Middle East in an effort to put together such a decision.
In the UN Headquarters it is clear that the US ultimately will not pass a ceasefire resolution that will return security situation in the Gaza Strip to its previous condition. The Americans are demanding a stable ceasefire that will include the mechanism that to prevent weapons smuggling from Egypt and will allow border crossings to be opened under Palestinian supervision.
US opposition is expected to stymie the passing of a resolution in Wednesday's Security Council session, leaving a series of unpleasant speeches in its wake, mainly meant to be a release valve for the public opinion in the Arab world.
Israel for its part continues to make it clear that it will not recognize any Security Council resolution that legitimizes Hamas. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni decided not to leave for New York out of concern that her presence at the Wednesday's session would be interpreted as recognition of UN authority in making such a resolution.
Instead, Israel's stance will be presented by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev