"President Abbas will go to Gaza Monday or Tuesday to pursue efforts to form a unity government," Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters news agency on Sunday.

He said: "He will tell Hamas, 'If you want a unity government, there are international requirements that need to be met, and that's the only way to form a unity government."

After talks on Saturday in Cairo with Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, Abbas said efforts to forge a national unity government with Hamas were back at "point zero", and accused the group of going back on their earlier deal on the administration's political programme.

Hamas has put the new government in doubt by continuing to refuse to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept previous agreements signed with Israel.

Serious

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas member of Palestinian Legislative Council, told Aljazeera that the group was serious about forming a unity government.

"We believe that any disagreement in the government's political programme would be resolved at the negotiations table, where we reach a national agreement, though we have already reached it before," he said.

It had been hoped that if the new government was agreed it might lead to the end of an economic blockade by the United States, the European Union and Israel; but it was difficult for Abbas and Hamas to reach agreement on recognising Israel, even implicitly.

"We should not abide by any pressures that may force us to recognise the legitimacy of the occupation on our Palestinian lands," al-Masri said.