Gaza Ceasefire and Goma Violence: Busy Day at the UN

Gaza and Goma are dominating the agenda at the UN today. Here’s the latest on both crises.

1) Gaza. Ban Ki Moon stood next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today to implore both sides to relent. “This new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure,” he said. As he spoke, Hillary Clinton was on her way to Jerusalem. In the meantime, Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi is negotiating with Hamas in Cairo. It seems that the twin interventions of the USA and Egyptians have helped to compel both sides to consider a ceasefire.  Wires are reporting that a ceasefire may be signed by 2 PM EST; and go into effect by 5 PM EST. There are some conflicting reports, but my sense is that Hillary Clinton will not leave the region without a ceasefire–and she certainly would not go if Israel was launching a ground invasion as she landed.

Back at the UN, the the USA has blocked a press statement calling for a halt to violence in Gaza, saying it “was counter-productive.” If a ceasefire is agreed upon, we can probably expect the Security Council to issue some sort of resolution in support of a truce.

This is a very rapidly developing story. I am Tweeting updates and news as it breaks from @MarkLGoldberg

2. Goma. The Rwandan-backed M23 rebel group has sacked Goma. The latest reports say that they were able to enter the city without much resistance, either from the Congolese Armed Forces or the UN Peacekeeping troops stationed in the city. The peacekeeping mission, for its part, opted not to engage M23 forces head on for two important reasons: 1) They don’t have the mandate to do so. They can and will protect civilians, but they will not fight a war. 2) Street battles in Goma could have resulted in terrible civilians casualties. The peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, is apparently in control of the main airport and reports from the World Food Program suggest that there is still shooting in Goma, but humanitarian operations are not fully suspended.

Back at the UN, the Security Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution condemning foreign interference in DRC and slapping sanctions on at least two members of M23. There is no word on whether or not the resolution includes a specific mention of Rwanda, though it does condemn foreign interference.

This is also a rapidly changing situation. Follow me @UNDispatch for updates.