Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas condemned former Saudi Intelligence Chief Turki al-Faisal’s statements made in Paris Saturday at the Free Iran conference, a gathering of anti-Iranian regime dissidents. Faisal accused Iran of destabilizing the region and “spreading chaos” through its support for militant organizations including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
In a statement published Sunday on its official website, Hamas expressed its criticism.
“Hamas condemns the statement of the The King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies Chairman Turki al-Faisal, in which he belittled and made accusations against Hamas and the Palestinian resistance. We in Hamas reject these baseless and false defamations. One who observes these issues closely knows that Hamas is a Palestinian resistance movement against the Zionist occupation in the land of Palestine and has an agenda in the interest of its people and issue,” the statement said.
PIJ similarly denounced Faisal’s remarks in a statement to Amad News, a Palestinian news outlet. “We in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad condemn these statements and emphasize that they are false accusations that only serve the Zionist agenda that seeks to liquidate the Palestinian issue and conquer all Arab and Islamic capitals,” the statement said.
Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post that Faisal’s statements reflect the tense relations between Hamas and Saudi Arabia that date back nearly a decade. “Saudi Arabia has not forgotten that Hamas was one of Iran’s allies until the eruption of the Syrian revolution, before which Iran was supporting Hamas with financial aid,” he said.
Abusada stated further that Saudi Arabia holds Hamas responsible for the failure of the February 2007 Mecca Agreement, a Palestinian reconciliation deal that Saudi Arabia brokered.
“The Saudis saw Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip as disrespect for Saudi mediation between Hamas and Fatah,” he said.
Abusada said the ambiguity over Hamas’s position on the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen has further added to Riyadh’s frustration with Hamas.
Faisal’s remarks in Paris were not the first time he criticized Hamas. In July 2014, he told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, “Hamas is responsible for the slaughter in the Gaza Strip following its bad decisions in the past, and the haughtiness it shows by firing useless rockets at Israel, which contribute nothing to the Palestinian interest.”
Hamas has recently suffered setbacks in its relations with other Middle Eastern countries.
Turkey, a long time supporter of Hamas which hosts some of its leadership, signed a reconciliation deal with Israel on June 26 at the expense of Hamas.
And on Sunday, to the dismay of Hamas, Egypt sent its Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry to Jerusalem to confer with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.