SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt, June 15 (Marwa Awad - Reuters) - Israel should open all seven of its crossings to Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday, as Israel said it was considering ways to ease its blockade of the coastal strip.
Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog said Israel was examining ending the closure in its existing form, calling the current policy counterproductive and confirming remarks by Middle East envoy Tony Blair that change was likely.
Israel has come under international pressure to lift the blockade following the fallout from its assault on a flotilla of aid ships on May 31 in which Israeli forces killed 9 people.
This Israeli blockade on Gaza must be lifted in the sense that the seven Israeli crossings must be open for all the needs of the Gaza Strip, Abbas said after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Israel imposed the blockade soon after Islamist group Hamas won legislative elections in 2006. The restrictive measures were tightened after Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Egypt, the only other country to border Gaza, has faced criticism from the Arab public for blocking access to Gaza.
Cairo, which says restrictions are for national security reasons, has since the flotilla incident opened the Rafah border indefinitely but not for all goods.
An Israeli minister said on Sunday that Israel should cut all ties with Gaza, comments that have raised fears in Cairo that it will be handed responsibility for the strip.
Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz also called on Sunday for a solution to transfer all the civilian goods to Gaza through Rafah and Egypt, Israel's Ynet news reported.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki rejected any such move in a statement and said: Such talk confirms beyond any doubt what we have been saying over past years that there is an official line of Israeli thinking to evade responsibility for Gaza and dump it on Egypt.
Echoing that worry, a security source in Egypt said earlier this month: Israel wishes very much that Egypt takes on full responsibility for Gaza for ever. But if we do this there would not be a Palestinian State including the West Bank to Gaza.