PA chief Abbas, senior Hamas officials visit Saudi Arabia, meet with crown prince

Hamas-Riyadh rapprochement talks look to be in the cards.


Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on Tuesday.

The Fatah leader’s visit comes at the same time that a delegation from rival political faction and terrorist group Hamas is also in the country.

According to the P.A.-controlled Wafa news agency, Abbas and the prince discussed “the latest political developments of the Palestinian cause and the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

Hussein al-Sheikh, secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee, and Maj. Gen. Majed Faraj, head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, also represented the Palestinian side at the meeting.

The Saudi side included Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and Director General of the General Intelligence Directorate Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan.

Abbas arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday for the visit where he was also scheduled to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and participate in an Iftar Ramadan break-fast meal.

Senior Hamas officials were seen making the Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca on Tuesday. Video posted to social media shows Hamas political bureau head Ismail Haniyeh, Haniyeh’s predecessor Khaled Mashaal and other officials circling the Kaaba inside the Great Mosque of Mecca.

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The Mecca pilgrimage comes ahead of talks expected in Riyadh between Hamas and Saudi officials aiming at rapprochement.

It is the first visit by an official Hamas delegation to Saudi Arabia since 2015, and the first since the Saudis agreed in March to reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran.

Relations between Riyadh and Hamas were strained after the Saudis blamed the terrorist group for the failure of the 2007 Mecca Agreement, which was a Saudi attempt to facilitate reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.