A man walks past Qatar Airways office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 5, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas on Wednesday criticized Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir for calling on Qatar, one of the Gaza-based group’s biggest sponsors, to sever ties with it.
“We in Hamas express our disappointment and disapproval of Saudi FM Adel Jubeir’s statements that incited against Hamas,” an official Hamas statement read. “These statements are shocking to the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations, who consider the Palestinian issue to be their top priority.”
Speaking to reporters in Paris on Tuesday, Jubeir said that Qatar needs to stop supporting “extremist groups” like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The senior Saudi official’s comments came a couple of days after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and a handful of other Arab states officially cut ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of backing extremist groups and Iran.
Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also took issue with Jubeir’s comments, saying they are “hostile towards the Palestinian resistance and complementary of Zionists.”
Qatar is one of Hamas’s staunchest allies. It has sent millions of dollars to Gaza to support Hamas’s governance efforts including hundreds of millions for reconstruction and millions for the energy sector.
Saudi says Qatar must implement "promises made" over extremist groups (credit: REUTERS)
When Gazans took to the streets to protest Hamas’s handling of an electricity crisis last winter, Qatar sent $12 million to Gaza for needed fuel, effectively bailing out Hamas.
Qatar has also served as the headquarters of Hamas’s diaspora leadership, hosting a number of its most senior leaders, including former Hamas Politburo Chairman Khaled Meshaal and his aides.
Ghassan Khatib, an expert in Palestinian politics, said on Tuesday that the rupture in relations between Qatar and its Arab neighbors could hurt Hamas’s standing.
“Assuming that the Arab states continue to pressure Qatar, Hamas could lose the different forms of political, financial and logistical support it receives from Qatar,” Khatib said. “That would be really bad news for Hamas.”