December 22, 2014
UN Ban Ki-moon requests 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire
"The Palestinian people deserve freedom, a future, peace and justice," Ban affirmed during a press conference with Egyptian Foreign minister Sameh Shukri, who is working with the UN leader to try and reach a ceasefire in Gaza.
"The violence must stop immediately."
The organisation's leader asked for all sides in the conflict to down weapons and return to talks, as well as requesting the arrival of humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.
US Secretary of State John Kerry began his consultations, which are expected to include meetings with top officials in Egypt and possibly elsewhere in the region, by meeting Ban Ki-moon in Cairo.
"We're deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel's appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself," Kerry said as he and Ban posed for pictures before their talks, according to a US reporter who attended the picture-taking session. "No country can stand by when rockets are attacking it."
"But always, in any kind of conflict, there is a concern about civilians - about children, women, communities that are caught in it," he added, announcing that the United States would provide $47 million in humanitarian aid to help Gaza residents.
Kerry plans to stay in Cairo until Wednesday morning and has no currently scheduled end to his trip, which may entail talks with officials from Qatar. The Gulf state has relatively close ties to Hamas and hosts its leader, Khaled Meshaal.
Egypt in turn might be willing to amend its truce initiative to end the fighting in Gaza in order to accommodate the Palestinian militant movement Hamas, which had rejected its terms, three Egyptian officials said.
Among Hamas's conditions are the lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza and the release of several hundred Palestinians arrested by Israel last month during its search for three Jewish teenagers abducted in the occupied West Bank. The trio were later found dead in a killing Israel blamed on Hamas.