A delegation of leaders from the Hamas terrorist group, including exiled political chief Khaled Mashaal, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Thursday for a series of meetings with high-level officials in that country just days after the announcement of the Iran nuclear deal.
In his meetings with the Saudis, Mashaal is expected to discuss improving bilateral ties, the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, and relations between Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The trip is the first visit to Saudi Arabia by Mashaal, who currently resides in Qatar, in more than three years. The other Hamas officials on the trip include Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook and Saleh al-Arouri, who resides in Turkey and is considered by Israel considers to be responsible for building Hamas’s presence in the West Bank. The visit also comes amid reports, mainly in the Arab media, of secret talks between Israel and Hamas to reach a long-term truce amid the ever-shifting landscape of the Middle East.
There have been a number of media reports during the past year of a restoration of ties between Hamas and Iran, which would patch up their fallout over the Syrian civil war. But reports have also indicated a dispute within Hamas’s leadership between its military and political wings over ties with Iran, with Hamas military leaders favoring closer relations with Iran and the political wing favoring warmer ties with Sunni Muslim powers like Turkey or the Arab Gulf states.