A Hamas-affiliated sheikh in the Gaza Strip lambasted a retired Saudi general for recently visiting Israel, which he called the “vilest and most despicable nation in history.”
“How can it be that someone comes from the Land of the two holy mosques shakes hands with the Jews, and enters our country, Palestine, with a Jewish visa?” Marwan Abu Ras, a Hamas member of parliament, said in an Al-Aqsa TV broadcast from a Friday sermon last month, according to a translation provided at the weekend by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
“You are a supporter of the Jews, and Allah will punish you as you deserve,” he said of Dr. Anwar Eshki who led a group of Saudis on a visit to Israel earlier this summer.
“Those Jews are the vilest and most despicable nation in history, they never command good or forbid evil,” Abu Ras said.
The Jews, the religious leader went on, “betray everyone” and “never abide by any peace they make with Muslims or with infidels.”
In July, Eshki led a group of academics and businessmen on an unofficial visit to Israel that reportedly sought to encourage discussion of the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative as a roadmap to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official relations and the kingdom prohibits its citizens from traveling to Israel. A visit by Eshki, who was once a top adviser to the Saudi government, is an extremely rare occurrence. Eshki said later the trip had not been coordinated with the royal household, but it was seen as highly unlikely that he would have come without the Saudi leadership’s tacit consent.
In Jerusalem, the delegation met with Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and several opposition Knesset members.
The Saudi delegation also toured Ramallah and met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas as well as other Palestinian officials.
In the wake of the visit, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry distanced itself from the rare public engagement, and said in a statement that it “does not reflect the views of the Saudi government.”
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