Hamas leader heads to Mauritania after Morocco visit
A high-level delegation from the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, led by the chief of the movement's political bureau Ismail Haniyeh, arrived on Monday in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott following a five-day visit to Morocco.
A Hamas statement confirmed the delegation's arrival in the West African nation without adding further details.
After the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain, and Sudan agreed to normalise relations with Israel in 2020, Mauritania was tipped as another Arab country that could possibly follow suit.
Mauritania had previously recognised Israel in 1999 and established diplomatic ties, before breaking them off in 2009 when Israel launched a war on the Gaza Strip which killed thousands of Palestinians.
The idea of normalising ties with Israel again has been met with strong resistance in the country. In February, 200 Mauritanian imams and religious scholars signed a religious edict prohibiting normalisation.
Following last month's deadly Israeli assault on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which killed 254 Palestinians, the Mauritanian parliament urged the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for "genocide".
During Haniyeh’s visit to Morocco, he met with Prime Minister Saadeddine Othman and other officials from the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which leads the Moroccan government.
The party had previously tried to distance itself from Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s December 2020 decision to normalise ties with Israel. The administration of former US President Donald Trump agreed to recognise Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region in return for the normalisation deal.
Haniyeh also attended a banquet hosted by the king and visited the Jerusalem Treasury Agency, a body set up by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to provide financial assistance to Palestinians in Jerusalem, which is chaired by King Mohammed VI.