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Has Hamas completely forgotten Saudi Arabia?

The appointment of Yahya Sinwar as Hamas’ head in the Gaza Strip undermines the rapprochement between the movement and Saudi Arabia, while drawing Iran closer to the Palestinian resistance.
Hamas leader Yehia Sinwar attends a rally in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip January 7, 2016. The rally, organized by Hamas movement, was held to honor the families of dead Hamas militants, who Hamas's armed wing said participated in imprisoning Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, organizers said. Shalt was abducted by militants in a cross-border raid in 2006, and was released in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem  - RTX21FPI

Relations between Hamas and Saudi Arabia are frosty, although several figures in the kingdom’s religious current had expected the ice to melt between both countries. As soon as King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud acceded to the throne in January 2015, the kingdom was overcome by a wave of popular mobilization, which bet on Saudi Arabia’s openness to political Islam groups like Hamas. Consequently, Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, visited Saudi Arabia in July 2015 and met with Salman. But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir undermined the visit and said it had a religious context, specifically to perform umrah (a pilgrimage to Mecca), and they did not tackle any political dimensions.

In a phone call with Al-Monitor from Riyadh, Minister of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs at the Foreign Ministry Thamer al-Sabhan stressed that his county deals with states, not movements and organizations, thus explaining the lack of communication between Riyadh and Hamas. The kingdom supports the Palestinian Authority (PA) directly and has a more comprehensive stance that complies with international charters, which ban cooperation with any nonstate actors, according to Sabhan.

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