Netanyahu to Ban: UN Cease-fire Call Answers Needs of 'Murderous Terror Group'

Prime Minister speaks to UN chief to protest Security Council statement calling for an 'immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire' in Gaza.

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations HQ in 2012.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations HQ in 2012.Credit: AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday to protest a statement issued by the UN Security Council that urged an immediate cease-fire in fighting in Gaza, telling him that the international body's call reflected the needs of Hamas - but not of Israel.

In the statement, the Security Council called for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire" in the Gaza Strip, joining a similar call by U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday. The push for a cease-fire followed new attacks by Israel and Hamas on Sunday, despite going back and forth over proposals for another temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting.

Netanyahu told Ban that the statement does not address Israel's security needs, among them the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. The decision to issue the statement is the Security Council's, however, and the UN secretary-general has no influence in the matter.

The UNSC's statement "relates to the needs of a murderous terrorist group that attacks Israeli civilians and has no answer for Israel's security needs," Netanyahu told Ban, according to a press release by Netanyahu's office.

The Security Council met as Muslims started celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The presidential statement, obtained by The Associated Press, says the humanitarian cease-fire would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance. It urged Israel and Hamas "to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond."

The statement also calls on the parties "to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire, based on the Egyptian initiative."

Rwanda, the current council president, announced agreement Sunday night, New York time, on the presidential statement and an immediate meeting on it. It was drafted by Jordan, the Arab representative on the UN's most powerful body.

Presidential statements become part of the council's official record and must be approved at a council meeting, where they are almost always read. The statements are a step below Security Council resolutions and require approval of all 15 members.

The statement never names Israel or Hamas. Instead, it expresses "grave concern regarding the deterioration in the situation as a result of the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties."

Since Israel's Operation Protective Edge started, three Israeli civilians and 43 IDF soldiers were killed. On Sunday, 15 Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip. According to statements by the Palestinian Health Ministry, since the operation began 1,065 Palestinians were killed and over 6,200 were wounded.

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