In a surprise move, Hamas announced on Monday a series of measures to pave the way for reconciliation with its rival Fatah.

The measures, announced by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh during a press conference in Gaza City, are seen as a direct result of the deep crisis facing Hamas in the aftermath of the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

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The Egyptian authorities have since tightened their blockade of the Gaza Strip, sealing the Rafah border crossing and destroying most of the smuggling tunnels along their shared border.

The Egyptian authorities have also accused Hamas of involvement in terror attacks against Egyptians – a charge that has been strongly denied by the Islamist movement.

The Hamas measures include allowing Fatah members who fled the Gaza Strip during the Hamas takeover of the area in 2007 to return to their homes.

Haniyeh announced that his government would also release Fatah members who were arrested for politically motivated security offenses.

He said that among those who would be allowed to return to Gaza are Fatah legislators who fled in 2007. Some fled to the West Bank, while others found shelter in Egypt and other Arab countries.

Fatah leaders and members who wish to visit the Gaza Strip are also free to do so, Haniyeh said, adding that the measures were aimed at enhancing trust between the two parties.

The Hamas leader said that his government was prepared to do all that was needed to end the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He urged both sides to “absorb” the “positive messages” coming from Hamas.
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