Clinton heading to Israel for cease-fire talks

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to Israel to discuss plans for a cease-fire.

Clinton, one of several world leaders who will arrive or have already arrived in Israel to press for a cease-fire, reportedly is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived Tuesday in Israel from Cairo, where cease-fire negotiations are under way. In the Egyptian capital he told reporters that an Israeli ground operation in Gaza would be a “dangerous escalation.”

“Immediate steps are needed by all to avoid a further escalation, including a ground operation which will only result in further tragedy,” Ban said. He did add that Israel has “legitimate security concerns.”

Ban also called for negotiations toward a two-state solution and “an end to the occupation.”

In Israel, he is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Netanyahu met Tuesday with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who said in a statement after the meeting that “Germany stands by our friends in Israel, and Israel has every right to defend itself and protect their own citizens against these missile attacks from Gaza into your country.” Westerwelle also called for all sides to take all steps necessary to put a cease-fire into place.