update desk

Hamas visit to Saudi Arabia postponed; PA chief Abbas in the kingdom

Riyadh refused to issue visas to the delegation from the Gaza-based terrorist organization, according to Iranian media.

Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas terrorist movement's political bureau. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas terrorist movement's political bureau. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Saudi Arabia has postponed a planned visit to the kingdom this week by a senior Hamas delegation, Arab and Iranian media reported.

The delegation of terror leaders had been scheduled to make a pilgrimage to Mecca on Monday, but according to Iranian media outlet Jade Iran, Riyadh refused to issue them entry visas, despite a verbal agreement to do so made by the Saudi ambassador in Doha, Qatar.

The delegation was reportedly to be 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.

The Saudis did agree to release a number of Palestinian prisoners associated with Hamas that had been held in detention for several years, according to the report.

Arabic-language news site Arabi21 also confirmed the cancellation.

The hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Credit: Pixabay.

It would have been the first visit by an official Hamas delegation to Saudi Arabia since 2015, and the first since the Saudis agreed in March to reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran.

Relations between Riyadh and Hamas were strained after the Saudis blamed the terrorist group for the failure of the 2007 “Mecca Agreement,” which was a Saudi attempt to facilitate a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip.

PA chief in Saudi Arabia

Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday for an official visit, according to Arab media reports.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, on May 7, 2020. Photo by Flash90.

Two Jordanian helicopters landed in Ramallah on Sunday to transport Abbas to Jordan and then on to Saudi Arabia, where he is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.

Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee Hussein al-Sheikh, and the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, Majed Faraj, are accompanying Abbas on the trip, according to the reports.

Abbas will also participate in an Iftar meal, held daily at sundown during the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan.

The Palestinian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bassam al-Agha, said in an interview with the P.A.-backed radio station Voice of Palestine that “President Abbas will discuss during his visit the situation in Palestine and the crimes of the occupation in the city of Jerusalem.”

He is scheduled to return to Ramallah on Wednesday.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia hosted a meeting of ministers from Arab countries in Jeddah in which were discussed ways to support the Palestinian cause and to resolve the crisis in Syria. It featured the participation of Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

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