Ismail Haniyeh will be among the Palestinian officials who will travel to Riyadh on Monday to discuss thawing long-standing enmities.
According to Palestinian media sources, Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, will make his first trip to Saudi Arabia in years on Monday.
After years of tense relations with the monarchy, which has detained several individuals with connections to the organization, a top delegation from the group will go to Riyadh.
The team is anticipated to speak with Saudi officials on a host of Palestinian and regional concerns as well as bilateral ties between Hamas and the kingdom, however there has been no formal confirmation of the trip from Riyadh.
Palestinian captives in Saudi Arabia will be the main topic of discussion, Palestinian media outlets said.
Riyadh wants to reestablish its contact with Hamas following its historic reconciliation with Iran.
According to numerous Palestinian and Arabic-language media sites, the high-level delegation consists of Hamas politburo chairman Haniyeh, his assistant Saleh al-Arouri, and the leader of the organization abroad, Khaled Meshaal.
According to reports, the team will first make a trip to Mecca, the holiest place in Islam.
Since the group’s takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas and Riyadh have had a rocky relationship. Hamas has been blamed by Saudi leaders for the failure of reconciliation efforts between Hamas and the Fatah party in the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas political bureau member Mousa Abu Marzouk posted the following on Twitter on Saturday: Regardless of name or address, Hamas is not affiliated with any political or military axis. We are an Islamic resistance movement that wants to connect with every living force in the area and the world.
The tweet, which was sent out just before a meeting with the Saudi government, may have also been meant to dispel the idea that Hamas is too close to Iran.
Two Palestinians with close ties to Hamas were released from prison earlier this year by Saudi authorities.
Nearly 68 Palestinians and Jordanians were arrested in 2019 on suspicion of being connected to an unidentified “terrorist organization,” including Suleiman Haddad and his son Yahya Haddad.
The group was tried in mass trials in 2020 and after they were handed jail sentences going from a half year to 22 years.
Hamas political bureau member Izzat al-Rashq thanked the Saudi government for the release, calling it “a significant step in the right direction.”
After being held in detention for more than three years, the former Hamas representative was also released by Saudi Arabia in October of that same year.
Together with his son, Hani al-Khudari, 84-year-old Mohammed al-Khudari, he was released and deported to Jordan.
Since Hamas’ inception more than 30 years ago, Saudi Arabia and the group have enjoyed close ties. Many of the movement’s founders and close associates lived in the kingdom, where large donation drives were launched, some of which received official Saudi approval.
Hamas leaders have expressed a desire to strengthen ties with the kingdom in recent months. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has released prisoners.
Hopes that Saudi Arabia will establish diplomatic ties with Israel will likely be dampened by the kingdom’s rekindling of ties with Hamas. In light of the ongoing violence in the West Bank, recent media reports in the United States suggest that Riyadh has cooled off on the idea.