Arabs renew call for UN ceasefire in conflict

January 6th, 2009 - 3:03 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew York, Jan 6 (DPA) Arab governments Monday called on the UN Security Council to order an end to hostilities in Gaza Strip, hoping that the group would overcome opposition by the US for such a move.Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Arab foreign ministers attending meetings at UN headquarters in New York planned to submit a new draft resolution and ask the 15-nation council to adopt it Tuesday.

Al-Malki said the Arab ministers were working through a “proper channel” to convince Washington to support the text.

Several Arab foreign ministers were scheduled to hold talks at UN headquarters Monday to hammer a text that would be acceptable to the council.

The US opposed a previous text submitted by the League of Arab States, branding it one-sided because it singled and condemned only Israel in the conflict against Hamas militants in Gaza Strip.

“We are really working in order to get a resolution that will be implementable,” al-Malki said when asked whether Hamas would also support the text. “What’s important here is we are looking for the interests of the Palestinian people.”

Al-Malki said the Palestinian Authority was “disappointed” that US President-elect Barack Obama has so far failed to voice a position on the Israel-Hamas fighting. He pointed out that Obama had spoken out against the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last month.

“We expect him (Obama) to take a strong position as soon as possible,” al-Malki said.

Washington is in a transitional period with Obama expected to take over the White House January 20. Obama’s team has adopted a mantra that there is only one US president at a time.

Earlier Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon renewed appeals for the international community to act to halt the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Ban said the Security Council needs to play a central role in ending the conflict and that he will continue to work with its members to find a solution.

After the closed council meeting Saturday night, Jean-Maurice Ripert, French ambassador to the UN and current holder of the Security Council’s rotating chairmanship, said there was a strong consensus among the 15 member countries to issue an opinion on the conflict. The overwhelming majority would demand an immediate ceasefire from all sides, he said.

At the time, US Ambassador Alejandro Wolff said that it would damage the Security Council’s credibility to make demands that go ignored. He said that Israel as a member of the world community should not be equated with a terrorist organisation like Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

The Security Council has been unable to forge a resolution on the violence since an Israeli bombing campaign began on Dec 27, in response to stepped up rocket fire toward southern Israel by Gaza militants.

Several Arab leaders and diplomats are expected this week at UN headquarters in New York to make direct appeals for the UN to take action.

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