UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he discussed the possible deployment of a multinational force in Gaza with the Security Council on Wednesday after the Israeli and Palestinian leaders raised the idea.
Ban told reporters after his monthly luncheon with the 15 council ambassadors that no decision was taken.
"This is an idea which we need to explore possibilities, and I have initially exchanged views on this issue with the Security Council members just a while ago," he said.
Ban said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raised the idea of a multinational force during a phone conversation on Tuesday and asked him "to consider this issue." Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
"also raised this issue," he said.
The suggestions to deploy a multinational force came as fighting between Palestinian rivals Hamas
and Fatah escalated in the Gaza Strip, with Hamas appearing close to taking over the territory which Israeli troops and settlers left in 2005.
Olmert favors deployment of a multinational force along Gaza's border with Egypt to prevent arms reaching Palestinian militants. Israel
does not want to be seen to be openly involved in Gaza given that most Palestinians regard the Jewish state as the enemy, but it has discreetly been facilitating resupply of arms and ammunition to Abbas' Fatah forces.
UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno stressed that "any deployment of force always has to be based on a political agreement where all the key actors are on board."
Israel's support is "an essential element," Guehenno said, but so are the positions of the various Palestinian leaders, which need to be clarified.
Hamas and Fatah have waged a sporadic power struggle since Hamas won parliamentary elections last year, ending four decades of Fatah rule. But the battles have worsened in recent days as Hamas began a systematic assault on security forces to take over Gaza.
The secretary-general told reporters "there are many issues which we will have to consider whether if we agree or decide to have international presence in Gaza."
The issues include "where to locate them, what would be the terms of reference, what would (be) their missions," he said.
"All are not clear at this time," he said. "I have yet to discuss more in detail with the countries concerned."
The Security Council would have to approve any UN peacekeeping operation in Gaza.