Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of implementing policies that he describes as "ethnic cleansing" in predominantly Palestinian east Jerusalem.

Mr. Abbas says Israeli officials have banned Palestinians from building homes in East Jerusalem, raised taxes on Palestinians and separated East Jerusalem from the West Bank.

The Palestinian leader was speaking Thursday at the summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Strife in the Palestinian territories is high on the agenda at the OIC meeting in Dakar, Senegal.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, says Mr. Abbas' claim of alleged "ethnic cleaning" is likely an example of "overheated political rhetoric."

Many delegates at the summit have sharply criticized Israel's military strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Addressing the Islamic leaders Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israeli and Palestinian officials to act urgently to ease Palestinian civilians' suffering. He condemned both Gaza-based militants, for repeated rocket attacks on Israel, and what he called Israel's "excessive and disproportionate use of force."

Participants at the two-day OIC meeting in West Africa also are discussing poverty reduction and security issues in Muslim nations and negative perceptions of Islam.

Opening the conference Thursday, Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade assured participants the summit would be a success.

The Saudi-based group has a membership of 57 nations, and it supports Muslim interests around the world.

OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, of Turkey, has called for the organization to engage in a more productive dialogue with the non-Muslim world.

This is the first year the United States has sent an envoy to the conference.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.