Thursday, May 23, 2024

Hamas delegation visits Saudi Arabia to mend ties

A delegation of senior officials from the Palestinian Hamas movement has traveled to Saudi Arabia as the two sides try to revive relations.

Palestinian media reported that the delegation, including Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the group abroad, Khaled Mashal, and officials Mousa Abu Marzook and Khalil al-Hayya, arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah late on Monday.

Citing sources, the reports said the delegation will perform the Umrah pilgrimage in the final days of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Ties between Riyadh and Hamas deteriorated in 2007, following the resistance group’s victory in the Palestinian legislative elections and clashes with the Fatah political party in the Gaza Strip.

In 2019, Saudi Arabia arrested dozens of Hamas members, claiming that they were threatening the kingdom’s rule.

Hamas leaders have in recent months sent messages that they would like to improve relations with Saudi Arabia. In turn, the kingdom has released many of Hamas detainees, including senior member Mohammad Al-Khudari.

Following the release of two Palestinians linked to Hamas back in February, the Gaza-based group expressed hope that the development would be “a prelude to opening a new page with the brothers in Saudi Arabia.”

“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,” it announced in a statement.

The Hamas delegation’s trip to Saudi Arabia came more than a month after Tehran and Riyadh agreed to a China-brokered reconciliation deal to resume their diplomatic ties.

Coinciding with Hamas officials’ Saudi trip, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is visiting the kingdom upon an official invitation by Riyadh.

He is expected to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments regarding the Palestinian cause and the situation in the region, as well as the strengthening of Palestinian-Saudi relations, Wafa news agency reported.

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