New page in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Hamas 

A Hamas delegation arrived in Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Saudi crown prince and it seems that Saudi Arabia is reconciling with members belonging to the resistance axis led by Iran after signing an agreement with it. US and Israel are concerned about the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran and Hamas, and this may have a negative effect on the efforts to achieve a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.




A delegation of Hamas led by the leader of the movement Ismail Haniyeh arrived to visit Saudi Arabia after a break in relations that lasted for many years. 

The Hamas delegation also includes Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas abroad, and members of the Political Bureau, Khalil Al-Cahya and Zaher Al-Jabarin. 

Hamas officials said that the delegation was invited by Saudi Arabia and its members will meet with senior officials in Saudi intelligence and discuss with them Hamas’ relations with Saudi Arabia and the issue of the Palestinian detainees imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. 

The Hamas movement is defined in Saudi Arabia as a terrorist organization and about 70 Hamas operatives who were convicted in a Saudi court of money laundering and smuggling for the military wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip through money changers in Turkey are detained in Saudi prisons.

In October 2022, Saudi Arabia released from prison, as a goodwill gesture, the 81-year-old Dr. Muhammad Al-Khoudari, who was formerly the head of the Hamas office in Saudi Arabia, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison but only managed to serve 3 years in prison, two months ago Saudi Arabia released several more activists of Hamas from prison. 

Hamas officials estimate that Saudi Arabia will release several more Hamas operatives from prison ahead of Id al-Fiter this weekend.  

The Rai Alyoum newspaper reported on April 17 that the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Qatar are involved in talks to release Hamas operatives from the Saudi prison and that they are exerting pressure to release them.  

The renewed rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and the Hamas movement is a result of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategic decision to get closer to Iran and Syria, in this framework of Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with the axis of resistance led by Iran, it is also thawing its relations with the Hamas movement.  

 Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, made many efforts in the last year to get closer to Saudi Arabia again and worked with various mediators so that the Saudi authorities would grant amnesty to his people, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said that the sentence passed on the movement’s activists was Saudi response to the requests of the Zionists and that it was a political decision and not a legal one.  

The Hamas movement is defined in Saudi Arabia as a terrorist movement just like the Muslim Brotherhood movement. 

Behind the Saudi activity against Hamas were also the Trump administration and Israel, who succeeded in bringing about a complete disconnection between Saudi Arabia and the Hamas movement. 

In Hamas, they point to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the one who adopted the American-Israeli policy against the movement. 

Senior Hamas official Marwan Abu Ras said on September 12, 2019 to the “Al-Khalij Online” website that Saudi Arabia is getting closer to Israel and is opening the gates of normalization with it by arresting senior Hamas officials in the kingdom. 

The arrest and conviction of Hamas operatives symbolized the end of all ties between the Saudi royal family and the Hamas leadership. 

Now the circumstances in the Middle East have changed due to the weakening of the US’s position in the Middle East, its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan and the lack of a firm policy towards Iran have turned on a red light for the Saudi leadership, especially in light of President Biden’s cold attitude towards Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman whom he accuses of being responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Saudi Arabia brought China into the picture and it mediated between it and Iran and achieved the signing of an agreement to renew ties between the two countries, also Saudi Arabia began to approach Bashar Assad’s regime and warm up relations with Syria in anticipation of its possible return to the Arab League. 

A PA delegation led by Mahmoud Abbas also arrived in Riyadh last night at the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, senior PA officials estimated that Saudi Arabia would try to mediate between Hamas and the PA to achieve national reconciliation after Hamas expelled the PA from the Gaza Strip in 2007, since then all reconciliation efforts between them have failed. 

PA sources estimated that Saudi Arabia is increasing contacts with the Palestinians in an attempt to achieve national reconciliation ahead of the Arab summit conference to be held next month in Riyadh.   

 Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s courtship of the resistance  axis led by Iran worries Israel and the US, who were surprised by the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. 

The head of the CIA, William Burns, visited Saudi Arabia about two weeks ago and expressed Washington’s displeasure with this move to senior officials in the royal house. 

Senior security officials in Israel say that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come to the conclusion that he can no longer trust the Biden administration when it comes to protecting the Saudi regime from Iran and has chosen to move to the other camp to secure his regime in the coming years. 

The question is how will the rapprochement of Saudi Arabia with Iran and Hamas affect its relations with Israel, senior political figures in Jerusalem estimate that this may slow down the normalization process of Saudi Arabia with Israel because Saudi Arabia will be under great pressure from the axis of resistance led by Iran to distance itself from Israel. 

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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