European foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair are to travel to the Middle East next week to work out a solution for better access to Gaza, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after a phone conference of the Middle East Quartet, Ferrero-Waldner said the Quartet was following up the suggestion by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to hand over border controls to the Palestinian Authority.

Better access had to be provided, in particular at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, Ferrero-Waldner said. A possible solution was bringing back the EU deal, she added.

Under a five-way-deal in 2005 between the United States, EU, Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians, the border was to be monitored by EU observers, with additional cameras to allow Israel to view those crossing.

But all parties had to agree to a solution, Ferrero-Waldner said. The EU was ready and willing to grant full support.

"If infrastructure or equipment is needed, I will help," she said.

Last week, Hamas militants blew huge holes in the concrete and metal border fence between Gaza and Egypt, prompting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flood through the breach to stock up with supplies made scarce by the Israeli blockade.