Tags: palestinian | abbas | un

Palestinian President Headed to U.S.

Saturday, 03 Jan 2009 03:55 PM

By Stewart Stogel

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UNITED NATIONS -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is on his way to New York City for an emergency meeting at United Nations headquarters, say diplomatic sources.

Abbas, who is expected in New York early Sunday, will huddle with a high-powered group of Arab foreign ministers at the U.N. on Monday to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation in Gaza.

The Palestinian leader will also confer with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who again has urged both Israel and Hamas to initiate an "immediate" cease-fire.

The U.N. Security Council has over the last week tried in vain to intervene in the Gaza crisis.

The council has been blocked by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad, who, under instructions from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has insisted that any cease-fire be "durable" and not just a "breather" for Hamas to re-arm.

The Arab delegations, showing their frustration with the U.S. and Israel, convened the ministerial group in New York to pressure the U.N. and Security Council into some action to stop the fighting.

The de-facto green light the White House has given Israel to attack Hamas may soon come to an end.

President George W. Bush has summoned Ban for a "working" lunch at the White House on Tuesday.

It is expected that Bush and Ban will try and hammer out some road for a Gaza cease-fire later in the week.

At the same time, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will travel to Jerusalem to confer with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Israel, sensing its window of opportunity may be about to close, continued its buildup of ground forces at the Gaza border. Late Saturday, advanced elements of the Israel Defense Forces crossed the frontier and entered the Gaza Strip.

While refusing to deal with Hamas, Rice has said that the U.S. will speak with Abbas to try and arrange a halt to the fighting in Gaza.

Though not yet on Bush's schedule, Abbas is likely to travel to Washington after his meetings at U.N. headquarters.

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