Rais said the OIC must also have "a clear path of action" and engage the various regional blocs to work together on the Gaza issue.

"The OIC is not like Nato. It is purely a group that is based on mutual interests … social, cultural and religious in many respects of its activities."

Speaking ahead of an emergency meeting of the OIC in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, Rais said he will propose formation of a group to channel Palestinian views and to oversee peacekeeping efforts in the region.

Peacekeeping group

Rais called on Palestinian factions to unite in the wake of the Israeli assault
"What we would like to see is the formation of a peacekeeping group in that area, and this cannot be done without the blessing or overt co-operation of the UN," he said.

Rais also said that nothing can be achieved without the US taking a neutral stand to counter the "very pivotal" Jewish influence.

"In the new US leadership under Barack Obama [US president-elect] we place great hope to do just this," he added.

He said Hamas and Fatah, the two Palestinian groups, should consider the impact of the bombings on civilians and realise that they cannot exist without international support and assistance.

"While calling for Israel to stop the bombing, the Palestinian factions must also realise that they have to come together as concerned citizens and as a concerned state to push for peace in the region."

Meanwhile Muslims across the Asia-Pacific region have been responding to events in Gaza during Friday prayers by staging anti-Israel protests.

An estimated 1,000 Muslims gathered for prayers in Australia where they read funeral rites for the victims of the Israel offensive.

Dozens of Filipino Muslims also denounced the air raids, accusing Israel of war crimes, and it was a similar story in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.

Malaysians protest

Palestinian students joined Malaysians in
anti-Israel protests in Kuala Lumpur
In Malaysia about 300 supporters of the United Malay National Organisation (Umno), the country's main ruling party, gathered at the Palestinian embassy in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, chanting "Destroy Israel!" and "Save Palestine!".

The youth wing of Umno condemned the Israeli offensive and announced the setting up of a special fund to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

"We're here today as human beings to support people in Gaza, where there are Christians and Muslims. Palestine is for all, not just Muslims," Che Man, a Palestinian resident in Malaysia, said.

"But more importantly we must realise that we cannot do anything if we are not united."

A Palestinian student who has been studying in Malaysia for three years said this was a time to unite and not quibble over internal politics.

"The question of Palestinian unity is very complicated and yet quite simple, but it will only work if all of us are focused on a free Palestine and not pursue some personal agenda."