CAIRO — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday again urged the Islamist Hamas movement to sign an Egyptian-drafted reconciliation document to pave the way for a transitional government.
Abbas stressed "the importance of Hamas signing the Egyptian reconciliation document," in remarks carried by Egypt's official MENA news agency, after talks with President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
"After that we can discuss all the demands of Hamas and other parties during the implementation of the document," Abbas said.
"If the paper is signed, we do not mind forming a transitional government or a government of technocrats or independents to oversee several issues, most notably receiving reconstruction funds," he said, referring to the billions of dollars pledged to rebuild Gaza following the December 2008-January 2009 war.
Abbas said last week that he would send a delegation to the Gaza Strip to seek reconciliation with Hamas, following a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
His secular Fatah party and Hamas have remained deeply divided since the Islamists violently seized control of Gaza in June 2007 during a week of bloody street clashes, confining Abbas's authority to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Since then Egypt has made several attempts to reconcile the two main Palestinian movements, but the last round of talks ended in October 2009 when Hamas refused to sign the Egyptian document after it was inked by Fatah.
Hamas has said it will only sign the document with certain amendments, while Egypt and Fatah have refused to reopen the negotiations.
Abbas described as a "massacre" the May 31 Israeli raid on a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza that left nine Turkish activists dead and called for more aid convoys to pressure the Jewish state into scrapping its blockade.
Israel has sealed Gaza off from all but limited humanitarian aid since the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas and other militants in June 2006 and tightened the restrictions after the Islamist takeover a year later.
In the wake of the flotilla raid, Egypt which had also cut off the territory indefinitely opened its Rafah border post, the only gateway to Gaza that bypasses Israel.
But it still aims to complete an underground barrier on its border with the Gaza Strip "by the end of the summer," in a bid to stop the smuggling of goods and weapons into Gaza via a network of underground tunnels.
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