UNITED NATIONS - Newsmax has learned that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are beginning "preliminary" preparations for a "ceasefire" in the Gaza conflict.
While no specific deadline has been arrived at, it could come within the next day or two say sources.
Israeli sources report that the IDF is planning to expand its presence in the embattled Gaza strip and could actually enter the heavily populated downtown area.
But, as the conflict rages between Hamas and Israel along the Mediterranean coast, political pressure has been building at United Nations headquarters in New York.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed the Security Council and held to the White House insistence that any Gaza ceasefire not simply amount to an opportunity for Hamas to re-arm.
Rice cleared her schedule to remain in NYC where she has been involved in intensive negotiations with her British, French, Saudi and Egyptian counterparts to try and hammer out a solution to the crisis.
White House press secretary Dana Perino explained that the secretary of state has been making some "progress" but declined to elaborate.
On Wednesday evening, US/UN ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters that Washington might be amenable to a watered-down non-binding presidential statement, but no more at this time.
Rice's moves come as many Arab diplomats are exhibiting increasing frustration with the White House's defacto "green light" for Israel to continue its Gaza campaign.
"This is crazy...Bush will do nothing," lamented a veteran Arab diplomat to Newsmax.
He went on to label the "ceasefire proposal" by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak as "confusing."
The diplomat likened Sarkozy's controversial proposal to the same confusion he generated last August when he tried to mediate a truce between Russia and Georgia over Moscow's invasion of its southern neighbor.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly expressed his frustration over Israel's continued military attacks and the US's attempts in blocking any Security Council action.
The "SG" is said to have expressed that "irritation" with the US actions at lunch with President Bush at the White House on Tuesday.
Billed as a "farewell" meeting, UN sources confirm the Gaza conflict "was certainly discussed" but neither the UN or the White House would release details.
But, only hours later, Ban returned to the UN where he publicly expressed his anger in an open Security Council meeting, only to be rebuffed minutes later by Rice in her speech.
UN sources did confirm to Newsmax that contrary to his "we only have one president at a time" policy, senior members of President-elect Barak Obama's transition team have been "in frequent contact" with Ban Ki-moon's staff on the conflict in Gaza.
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