During Abbas’ visit, a group from Hamas, his rival organization, arrives in Saudi Arabia.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, is in Riyadh for meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), and there are rumors that a delegation from Hamas, the opposing Palestinian movement, is also present.
The meetings are set for Tuesday evening, but Abbas arrived on Monday. Discussions are anticipated to center on the ongoing bloodshed in the Palestinian territories that Israel occupies.
According to Palestinian media sources, Abbas’ trip to Saudi Arabia takes place at the same time as a top Hamas delegation led by Ismail Haniyeh’s politburo arrives in the country.
Despite demands for clarification from Al Jazeera, Hamas, which occupies the besieged Gaza Strip after driving Abbas’s Fatah out in 2007, has not acknowledged the visit.
Saudi Arabia has also been silent over the alleged visit.
However, according to sources in the Palestinian media, the Hamas delegation will meet with Saudi officials to discuss bilateral relations between Hamas and Saudi Arabia as well as a number of Palestinian and regional issues.
According to reports, the top item on the agenda for negotiations between the two parties is the problem of detainees held in Saudi Arabia who are linked with Hamas.
If the meeting goes ahead, it might be a significant step towards mending the years-long rift between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.
Israel, which has been striving to build relations with Saudi Arabia for a period of years, would likewise be disappointed by the meeting.
Former group leader Khaled Meshaal visited Saudi Arabia last in 2015, where he met the late King Abdullah and top government figures.
69 Palestinian and Jordanian nationals were given prison terms by a Saudi court in August 2021 after they were accused of having ties to Hamas.
However, Riyadh has recently freed the majority of the prisoners, including Mohammad al-Khudary, the former Hamas ambassador to the kingdom.
Haniyeh claimed in September of last year that his organization was attempting to repair relations with Saudi Arabia, but that unidentified third parties were attempting to thwart such efforts.
Haniyeh stated that once the organization re-established diplomatic connections with the Syrian government, it had been seeking to reestablish links with Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Due to its close ties to Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas has had a rocky relationship with Saudi Arabia for the past ten years.
However, a new chapter with Hamas has begun as a result of a recent warming of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran and a general initiative by Riyadh to improve relations with its regional adversaries.