Hamas PM Haniyeh at Rafah before entering Egypt 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
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.
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
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
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
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.