Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a memorial service for senior militant Mazen Fuqaha, in Gaza City March 27, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Saudi Ambassador to Algeria Sami Bin Abdullah Salih on Wednesday unequivocally said in an interview that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
When an Algeria-based reporter for Al-Nahar TV asked him if Saudi Arabia considers Hamas a terrorist group, Salih said, “Of course... It certainly is, if it seeks to create and cause problems.”
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, frequently endorses and carries out violent attacks against Israeli military personnel and civilians. Israel, the United States, the European Union – among others – all consider Hamas to be a terrorist group.
Salih also criticized some Hamas leader’s for living lavish lifestyles outside of Gaza.
“The right to resistance is guaranteed to the PLO, not one sitting in a five-star hotel in Qatar, carrying out conspiracies from there,” Salih said. “It should be that one is with his people and trying to advance his issue.”
Some Hamas leaders including former Hamas Politburo chief Khalid Meshaal reside in expensive hotels in Doha. However, many top leaders in Hamas, including its current Politburo Chairman Ismail Haniyeh, live in relatively modest conditions in Gaza.
Salih’s comments mark the second time a senior Saudi official has referred to Hamas as either a terrorist or extremist group in the past two months.
Days after a coalition of Arab states cut ties with Qatar on June 5, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir called on Qatar to stop funding “extremist groups” like Hamas.
However, a document of demands the coalition of Arab states presented to Qatar in late June did not explicitly refer to Hamas.
Hamas on Thursday issued a carefully worded critique on its official website of the Saudi ambassador to Algeria: “We, in Hamas, express our utmost disappointment and disapproval of what was said by the Saudi Ambassador to Algeria Sami Salih in terms of inciting statements against Hamas. We consider [these statements] to be at odds with the values, principles, and customs of our Arabic and Islamic nations.”
Al-Nahar TV cut the Saudi ambassador’s comments on Hamas out of the online version of its interview with him.