by Avi Melamed
According to reports in the Arab media – which have been denied by official Bahraini spokesmen – the King of Bahrain will visit the Gaza Strip by the end of this week.
Such a visit, should it take place, would be another indication of the Gulf States willingness to reward Hamas following its detachment from the Iranian-Syrian axis.
A visit by the King of Bahrain, following last week’s visit of the Emir of Qatar to the Gaza Strip is a clear sign of support of the Gulf monarchies for the pragmatic wing of Hamas.
The visit is also a signal from Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s tendency to conduct independent foreign policy and to promote its own agenda is a source of tension in its relationship with Saudi Arabia. Hamas should listen very carefully to the message from the King of Bahrain since it is a message directly from the Saudi King.
Another important aspect of this visit is the inner-Palestinian split. Senior Arab analysts view the visit of the Emir of Qatar to the Gaza Strip as a massive blow to the Palestinian Authority and to the Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. The common assumption on the Palestinian street is that the visit substantially decreases the already slim odds for a Palestinian reconciliation. It is reasonable to assume that the visit of the King of Bahrain will be viewed the same way.