Hamas delegation arrives in Saudi Arabia
A delegation of Hamas leaders is now in Saudi Arabia to perform the Umrah, or lesser pilgrimage, for the first time in years, sources told MEE on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the Arabic news website Arabi21 reported that the Hamas delegation was coming to Saudi Arabia after years of being banned from entering the Gulf country during the reign of former King Abdullah.
The relationship between Hamas and Saudi Arabia had been sour for years, but upon the death of the kingdom's leader on 23 January, 2015, leaders of Hamas have gone to great lengths to foster warmer political connections with the new leadership.
Haaretz recently reported that Saudi Arabia has been facilitating contacts between Hamas and its Palestinian rival Fatah, in an effort to advance reconciliation between the two Palestinian factions and improve Hamas’ relations with both Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The Palestinian delegation reportedly includes a number of Hamas leaders, namely the chairman of the organisation’s political bureau Khaled Meshaal.
Observers say the visit may signal a thawing of relations between Riyadh and Hamas after King Salman took power earlier this year.