BEIRUT: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Tuesday that a return to the status quo would not solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
"My message during this visit was first, stop the violence immediately. Second, return to dialogue, and third, we need to address the root causes of this conflict. Returning to the status quo will not bring a solution," Haaretz quoted the secretary-general as telling Ya’alon. “I urge Israel to exercise maximum restraint.”
Ban arrived in Israel Tuesday after meeting with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo earlier that day. The U.S and Egypt held talks in Cairo to end the two-week old Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Netanyahu said the world must hold Hamas responsible for starting the violence and for rejecting an Egyptian cease-fire initiative laid out last week.
"The international community must take a clear stance, it must hold Hamas accountable for consistently rejecting these cease-fire proposals and for starting and prolonging this conflict," Netanyahu said.
Hamas was not only guilty of attacking Israeli civilians but also of "using Palestinian civilians as human shields, deliberately putting them in harm's way."
"They are committing a double war crime: both targeting our civilians and hiding behind their civilians," said Netanyahu.
"The people of Gaza are the victims of the brutal Hamas regime. They are holding them hostage and hiding behind them."
Hamas said it rejected last week's Egyptian-brokered truce because it had been excluded from discussions and did not receive any official proposal.