Hamas representatives are in talks with officials from Saudi Arabia over the release of Palestinians held by Riyadh on "terror" charges, Anadolu news agency has reported.
Leading Hamas official Dr Basem Naim spoke to the agency about the talks and said that he expects to see the fate of the prisoners decided before the start of the month of Ramadan, which will be towards the end of April. According to Naim, who is the Head of the Council on International Relations and a former Minister of Health in Gaza, 62 Palestinians are facing charges in the Kingdom for "supporting terrorist groups".
Naim is reported to have said that he regrets the fact that Palestinians who have lived in Saudi Arabia for decades and have contributed to the development of the Kingdom and supported Saudi society are on trial.
The main charge levelled against the detainees is "supporting terrorist entities". Dr Naim insisted that the detainees played no part in activities that affected "the affairs of the Kingdom or its higher interests." Indeed, some of the detainees, he explained, were in "constant contact and communication with Saudi officials on several files," and were working in coordination with the authorities in Riyadh.
A second trial session is scheduled to be held for the detainees in May, but Naim predicts that the issue will be "closed" before Ramadan.
Commenting on the tension in relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas, he told Anadolu that, "The most prominent change that has now emerged is the so-called new American vision of peace or [the deal of the century]."
The former minister said that normalisation of relations between Israel and countries in the region is a major component of the deal and that the trial of Palestinians in Saudi was in some way connected to the way that legitimate Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation is viewed.
"Hamas is still making contacts, either directly or through mediators, with Saudi Arabia with the aim of releasing the detainees and discussing other issues related to the Kingdom," Naim pointed out. In conclusion, he emphasised Hamas's policy of openness and neutrality in disputes across the region, and stressed Saudi Arabia's long history of supporting the Palestinian cause and all forms of resistance to the occupation.