KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Muslim countries plan to seek a U.N. General Assembly special session to press for a halt to the escalating violence in Gaza, Malaysia's leader said Monday.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Malaysia's permanent representative to the U.N. will hold discussions with other officials in the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, on how best to push for such a session.
"I hope the United States and its allies will not impede efforts to convene the special general assembly," Abdullah was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama.
Foreign ministers from OIC countries issued a statement following a meeting in Saudi Arabia over the weekend saying all Muslim nations should cooperate with other U.N. members to call for a special General Assembly session titled "Uniting for Peace."
The U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said it had no immediate response to Abdullah's statement.
The United States late Saturday blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and expressing serious concern at the escalation of violence, council diplomats said.
Israel sent troops and tanks into Gaza on Saturday after a weeklong aerial bombardment.
At least 512 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,500 injured since the air attacks began. One Israeli soldier was killed in the ground assault. Israel says it launched the offensive to stop rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza that have killed several Israelis.
In a separate statement, Abdullah said Israel's ground offensive "is an act of total war which the international community should not tolerate."
Abdullah added that he has authorized $1 million of immediate humanitarian aid from the Malaysian government to be channeled through relief supplies for the Palestinians.