Hamas, Riyadh in talks to release Palestinian detainees

RIYADH (Agencies): Palestinian resistance group Hamas is engaged in talks with Saudi Arabia to release Palestinians held by Riyadh on “terror” charges, a Hamas leading figure said on Wednesday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Basim Naim said he expects leverage before the holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to start late April.

According to the Hamas member, Saudi authorities put on trial 62 Palestinians on charges of “supporting terrorist groups.”

“We regret that those Palestinians have resided for decades in Saudi Arabia and have contributed to building the kingdom and supporting the Saudi community,” Naim said.

He pointed out that the main charge against the detainees was “supporting terrorist entities”, stressing that the detainees had no activities that affected “the affairs of the kingdom or its high interests”.

He explained that some of the detainees were in “constant contact and communication with Saudi officials on several files,” and that they were working in coordination with the authorities there.

A second trial session is scheduled to be held for the detainees in May, but Naim predicts that the issue will be “closed” before Ramadan.

Commenting on tension in relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas, Naim said: “The most prominent change that has now emerged is the so-called new American vision of peace or [the deal of the century]”.

He pointed out that “one of the most prominent components of the deal is to normalize relations with the entity [Israel] and blow the cover of the Palestinian resistance, and these trials come in the context of that openness towards [the Israeli] occupation and approving the deal”.

“Hamas is still making contacts, either directly or through mediators with Saudi Arabia with the aim of releasing the detainees and discussing other issues related to the Kingdom,” he said. The Hamas official reiterated his movement’s policy of openness to all countries without taking sides with one country against another.

“Hamas will not be a party to the dispute inside or outside any country and we expect Saudi Arabia, which has a long history of supporting the (Palestinian) cause to understand the sensitive circumstances and position of the movement,” he said.

Naim expressed his movement’s aspiration for Saudi Arabia to support the Palestinian cause and all forms of resistance to the Israeli occupation, foremost of which is the “armed resistance.”