Senior Hamas official: ‘Movement’s leadership met with Bin Salman’
The deputy head of Hamas’ bureau abroad, Muhammad Nazzal, revealed the details of a previous meeting held by the movement’s leaders and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Nazzal revealed in television statements, republished by pro-Hamas news websites, that the meeting took place when Mohammed Bin Salman was deputy crown prince.
Mohammed Bin Salman held the position of deputy crown prince from April 2015 to June 2017. Later, he managed to overthrow his cousin, Muhammad Bin Nayef, and became crown prince.
Nazzal stated that the meeting was attended by a high profile delegation from Hamas’ political bureau, led by the bureau chief at the time, Khaled Meshaal.
He revealed that the Hamas delegation and the Saudi crown prince agreed to hold another meeting at a later date. However, the two parties did not meet again.
The leadership of Hamas also held a previous meeting with the Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, in July 2015. However, Nazzal did not specify when the meeting took place.
Nazzal indicated that the meeting with Mohammed Bin Salman led to the release of Maher Salah, head of Hamas currently in the Palestinian diaspora, who was jailed at the time for several months, along with others.
Nowadays, the Saudi regime takes a hostile stance against Hamas, as Saudi officials and pro-government media outlets often attack the movement and accuse it of having ties with terrorism.
The dispute was exacerbated after the Saudi kingdom launched a large campaign of arrests that affected Hamas’ representative in Riyadh for two decades, Mohammed Al-Khudari, along with dozens of Palestinians and Jordanians, whom Riyadh accuse of belonging to Hamas.
During his statements, Nazzal referred to the era when Hamas had friendly relations with the Saudi leadership, specifically during the rule of King Fahd and King Abdullah.
He revealed that King Fahd donated five million Saudi riyals to the movement, which was delivered by his son Abdulaziz, while King Abdullah donated, when he was crown prince, an amount of ten million Saudi riyals, delivered by his son, Mutaib.
Nazzal added: “The movement, before the reign of King Salman, had strong relations with Saudi Arabia, and held meetings with former Intelligence Chief Turki Al-Faisal, his successor Khalid Al-Humaidan, and other officials.”
The Hamas leader demanded the Saudi authorities to release Al-Khudari along with about 60 Palestinians and Jordanians, most of whom Saudi Arabia accused of having links with and funding a terrorist entity.
He noted: “They arrested 60 senior members of the movement, who lived in Saudi Arabia for decades without breaking the law. Saudi Arabia must reconsider its current endeavour to collide with Hamas and persecute the supporters of the Palestinian cause.”
It is not yet known whether the Saudi kingdom will release the detainees, most notably Al-Khudari, at the beginning of Ramadan, or proceed with their trial on charges of holding ties to a terrorist entity. Thus, Hamas is holding hope for the liberation of its members, as several external parties have mediated to solve the problem and sent a direct message to the king calling for releasing the prisoners.
Hamas expressed regret for the “unfair” trials taking place in Saudi Arabia against its members, claiming that the charges laid against the detainees are “invalid”.
The Palestinian movement deplored the ongoing arrest campaign targeting “the honourable sons of our country and nation,” calling for the release of all the detainees.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, stated that the movement’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been always friendly, adding: “The truth is that the phase we are going through is unfortunate, painful and contradicts all the previous stances expressed by brotherly Arab countries towards the Palestinian cause.”
Haniyeh asserted in previous statements: “We communicated directly with the Saudi authorities, and I sent more than one message to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. We also spoke to the competent agencies and international mediators in order to solve the issue; and we are still following up the matter, but unfortunately the detainees have been taken to court on charges of belonging to a terrorist entity.” He also stressed that Hamas is eager to reach a breakthrough regarding the detainees file before Ramadan, and looks forward to resume brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia.