Stop shooting, says UN chief, then get a Gaza cease-fire deal
Palestinian disunity could be a sticking point in cease-fire negotiations.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called for an immediate halt to the fighting between Israel and Hamas. Then the "technical issues" - i.e. who polices the smuggling of weapons into Gaza - of an enduring cease-fire could be worked out, he told reporters in Jerusalem Thursday evening.
It's been a long day for the UN chief.
Israel moved deeper into Gaza Thursday, shelling the United Nations headquarters and destroying thousands of pounds of humanitarian supplies. With the death toll above 1,000 and growing, Israel has inflicted serious damage in its attempt to stop Hamas from firing rockets into it's territory.
But another potential obstacle to Gaza peace is the division between Hamas, which runs Gaza, and Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Should Israel give the nod to any of the current efforts toward a truce, this inter-Palestinian conflict could become a major sticking point – especially over who will control the border between Gaza and Egypt.
Weapons smuggling through Gaza tunnels
Control of that border is a key issue for Israel, which is concerned about weapons being smuggled through the network of narrow tunnels that enable Palestinians to circumvent Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza.
Israel divided, too
But Israel is also divided, with several presidential candidates jockeying for leverage ahead of early elections.
The good news is that Israel and Hamas are both making noise about warming to a possible cease-fire. Ban Ki Moon says that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told him Thursday that "that they were they were going very close to a conclusion, to a ceasefire."