A delegation from the Hamas terrorist group will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Sunday for a pilgrimage to Mecca. Hamas hopes the visit will serve to improve relations with the kingdom, Arab media reported.
The delegation is being led by the head of Hamas’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by the bureau’s deputy chairman, Musa Abu Marzouk; the head of Hamas’s Office of Martyrs, Wounded and Prisoners, Zaher Jabarin; and the head of the group’s Diaspora Office.
Abu Marzouk said that efforts are ongoing to close the gaps between the sides and that the outstanding issues have begun to resolve themselves.
Hamas has tried to restore its relations with Riyadh over the years with a Hamas delegation visiting Saudi Arabia in July 2015. That meeting didn’t lead to a warming of ties.
The current visit follows Saudi Arabia and Iran’s announcement during talks hosted by China on March 10 of the reestablishment of diplomatic ties.
Hamas, a proxy of Iran, issued a statement in support of the agreement at the time: “We believe that this important step is in the interest of the Palestinian cause and supports the steadfastness of our people in the face of the occupation and its continuous aggression against our land, people and sanctities.”
According to the Saudis, the agreement rests on Iran’s promise to stop attacks on Saudi Arabia and reduce support for terrorist groups that have targeted the kingdom.