Major Shift: Saudis warming up to Hamas instead of Israel

After Saudi Arabia restores ties with Iran, the Gulf Kingdom shows willingness to maintain ties with the Hamas terror group; normalization with Israel appears to be off the table for now.

By World Israel News Staff

Senior officials from Hamas are expected to touch down in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, signaling a major shift in the Gulf Kingdom’s attitude towards the terror group following its landmark announcement that it had mended ties with Iran.

According to numerous Arabic-language media outlets, prominent Hamas members including Ismail Haniyeh, the head of its politburo, Saleh al-Arouri, the chief of the terror group’s military wing, and senior commander of Hamas’ abroad, Khaled Mashaal, are expected to visit a number of holy Islamic sites in Saudi Arabia and will meet with members of the royal family and government.

Hamas officials have been conducting a diplomatic push in recent months. Last week, Haniyeh and al-Arouri met with Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut, where the Lebanese terror leader pledged to support Hamas’ efforts against the State of Israel.

Senior members of the terror group have reached out to the Saudi royal family, asking to smooth over tensions, and those overtures have been partially accepted, Arabic language media reported.

Historically, Saudi Arabia has not been supportive or welcoming towards members of the Hamas movement. As recently as 2019, Saudi authorities arrested Hamas officials within the country, holding them without charge for years on end.

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that normalization with Saudi Arabia was on the horizon, Riyadh’s willingness to meet with Hamas officials suggests that a peace deal between Jerusalem and the country is unlikely in the near term.

Analysts have said that coordination on security matters between Israel and Saudi Arabia stemmed from the Gulf Kingdom’s tensions with Iran.

With the Islamic Republic as a mutual enemy, Jerusalem and Riyadh discussed ways to mitigate the threat to the region posed by Iran.

It appears that the Gulf Kingdom’s willingness to host and meet with Hamas was triggered by its recent rapprochement with Iran, which is a patron of the terror group.

In late March, at a meeting brokered by China, the two countries announced that they were resuming diplomatic ties, including reopening their embassies and restoring their respective ambassadors to their posts.

Over the past seven years, since ties between the nations soured, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been fighting a bloody proxy war that has been primarily centered in Yemen.

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Notably, ties between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have significantly deteriorated since President Joe Biden took office. During his campaign, Biden painted the Gulf Kingdom as a human rights violator and publicly said that he would push to make the country an international “pariah.”

Less than a year later, as oil prices soared due to American and European sanctions on Russian gas, Saudi officials refused to take Biden’s phone calls, and declined to lower the price of their oil in order to provide relief to American consumers.