UN pledges to rebuild Gaza for the 'last time'
The United Nations is ready to help rebuild Gaza but for the last time, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned yesterday as Egyptian mediators engaged in shuttle diplomacy on extending a 72-hour truce.
Ban opened a special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly with an appeal for a lasting peace.
"The senseless cycle of suffering in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in Israel must end," he told the 193-nation assembly.
After three wars in Gaza in six years, the UN secretary general warned that the world's patience with the Israelis and the Palestinians was being tested.
"Do we have to continue like this -- build, destroy, and build and destroy?" Ban asked.
"We will build again but this must be the last time -- to rebuild. This must stop now."
Four weeks of fighting in the Gaza Strip has killed 1,875 Palestinians and 67 Israelis, with nearly half of Gaza's 1.8 million people driven from their homes.
The UN General Assembly was convened at the request of Arab countries, who have criticized the Security Council for failing to adopt a strongly-worded resolution to press Israel and Hamas to stop.
Meanwhile, Egyptian officials mediating talks for a durable truce in Gaza met a Palestinian delegation yesterday to relay terms laid down by an Israeli team.
The Egyptian intelligence mediators had met with the Israeli delegation in Cairo during the night, the officials said. Palestinian officials in Cairo said they would respond to the Israeli terms through the Egyptian officials, although a senior Hamas official has already rejected an Israeli demand that militants in Gaza disarm.