Creating new perspectives since 2009

Senior Hamas delegation to visit Saudi Arabia

April 16, 2023 at 11:58 am

Palestinian Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh shakes hands with Hamas Deputy Chief Saleh al-Arouri, in Gaza City. [Hamas Chief Media Office/ApaImages]

A senior delegation representing the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas – is to visit Saudi Arabia today after years of declining relations, according to Arabic media reports.

According to a report by Al-Resalah newspaper, the delegation, which will include political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh, his deputy Saleh Al-Arouri and the head of Hamas’ diaspora office Khaled Mashaal will be in the kingdom to perform Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage. However, it has “not ruled out” holding meetings with Saudi officials.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, citing informed sources also reported that the Hamas delegation will be arriving in Saudi Arabia today and that Haniyeh will also be accompanied by deputy head of political bureau abroad Mousa Abu Marzouk and Zaher Jabarin who is responsible for prisoner affairs.

READ: Nasrallah: Saudi-Iran reconciliation ‘slows down’ normalisation with Israel

It has been speculated that any meetings with Saudi officials, will lead to the potential restoration of relations between Riyadh and Hamas, which deteriorated in 2007 after the Saudi government blamed the movement over the failure of the Makkah Agreement which was signed by Hamas and Fatah to end the clashes between the two parties in the Gaza Strip after the former’s victory in the 2006 elections.

Relations stagnated further in 2019, after the kingdom arrested dozens of activists and members, including former representative Mohamed Al-Khodari who was released in October of last year. After two Palestinian citizens were released from a Saudi prison in February, Hamas stated that “We affirm our keenness on positive relations with our brothers in Saudi Arabia and all brotherly countries in the service of the Palestinian cause and our Arab and Islamic nation.”

The arrival of senior Hamas members in the kingdom comes after Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations with regional rival Iran, and an official meeting with the Houthi-led government in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. It also follows reports that Saudi Arabia’s purported interest in normalising relations with Israel have cooled in recent months, amid ongoing escalations and provocations by the Israeli army and illegal settlers in the occupied-West Bank and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

OPINION: Post-Abraham Accords, Israel’s foes are reconciling with their rivals