UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will try his hand at imposing a ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza terror organization Hamas, when he arrives in the Middle East late Tuesday.
Ki-Moon began diplomatic machinations to pressure the parties from the moment the Israeli air and ground offensive began on December 27, following a long and intensive rocket attack by Hamas warriors against Jewish civilians in the south of Israel.
In a press conference before his departure for the region on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York, Ban bashed Israel for attacking "the very foundation of [Palestinian] society" by targeting the schools, homes and infrastructure used by Hamas to contain their fighters and arsenals.
"To both sides, I say: 'Just stop, now,'" he told reporters. "Too many people have died. There has been too much civilian suffering. Too many people, Israelis and Palestinians, live in daily fear of their lives."
Ban will meet officials in Egypt and Jordan on Wednesday, then head to Israel, the PA, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Kuwait where he said an Arab League summit may add an extra session addressing the Gaza war.
"It is my duty as Secretary-General to uphold the United Nations Charter and its principles," Ki-Moon said. "We have 10,000 staff on the ground in the Occupied Territory [sic] and in Israel. I want my visit to be a tangible expression of support for their work under the most difficult and dangerous circumstances."
During his tour, Ban said he will discuss initiatives such as opening Gaza border crossings, strengthening border security, providing humanitarian assistance, protecting Arabs in Gaza, and creating unity between Fatah-controlled Judea and Samarian Arab areas and Hamas-controlled Gaza.
The UN Security Council resolution adopted Thursday by a vote of 14-0, with the US abstaining, "stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza."
The UN chief will return to New York on January 20, just before President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. When asked what he would address to Obama as the new president's first priority, Ban told reporters he believes "this Middle East issue" should be his first concern.