Top OIC official rejects idea of Gaza int'l force

A top official of the world's main Muslim body rejected the idea of deploying a multinational force in Gaza to stop the fighting between Fatah and Hamas groups, insisting Thursday that the Palestinians need strong leadership. A multinational force in Gaza was suggested by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during separate phone conversations Tuesday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who in turn discussed it with the Security Council on Wednesday. But the secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, said in comments to reporters in Kuala Lumpur that an outside force is not such a good idea. "These are the same people," Ihsanoglu said, referring to the Hamas and Fatah fighters who have been locked a fierce power struggle since Hamas won parliamentary elections last year. Their battles have escalated in recent days as Hamas began a systematic assault on security forces to take over Gaza.