Israeli politician suggests Saudi Arabia take responsibility of Jerusalem holy sites

A picture taken on January 10, 2018, shows the Dome of the Rock mosque at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem's Old City, following renovation work carried out by the Waqf, a Jordanian-backed body that oversees Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem. / AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX / “The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by THOMAS COEX has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [January 10, 2018] instead of [January 10, 2017]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require.”

Isaac Herzog’s suggestion might be perceived as an attack on Jordan, which has been the custodian of Al-Aqsa for decades

An Israeli opposition leader called on Tuesday for Saudi Arabia to become “responsible” for the holy sites in Jerusalem, as it has experience in managing holy sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina.

Knesset member and former leader of the Israeli Labor Party Isaac Herzog suggested in an interview with the Saudi-funded Elaph news website that “Saudi Arabia could play a big role in the issue [of Jerusalem]”.

“When we reach the stage [during negotiations] of talking about Jerusalem and the holy sites, such as Al-Aqsa, I think there must be a Saudi role and responsibility for the holy sites.”

“Saudi Arabia has experience in managing sacred spaces in Mecca and Medina,” he said, referring to the role of Saudi King Salman as the custodian of the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina.

“I think we should offer Saudi Arabia a central role in this matter.”

He also suggested Saudi Arabia take a more influential role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and went on to praise Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We should help Saudi Arabia revive the peace process with the Palestinians.”

He added: “I respect the decisions that were made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and consider him one of the great revolutionaries in the Middle East.”

Herzog’s remarks over Jerusalem come after US President Donald Trump announced on 6 December that the US would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Translation: Jordanian parliament members wear a badge showing King Abdullah, bearing the words ‘custodian of the first Qibla and the third holy mosque’.

Challenging Jordan

Herzog’s suggestion might be perceived as an attack on Jordan, especially because Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was perceived particularly negatively by the Jordanian king and people.

The country has been the custodian of Al-Aqsa for decades – a role recognised by two peace treaties, notably the Wadi Araba treaty signed between Jordanian King Hussein and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel in 1994. Consequently, King Abdullah is considered the custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

When King Hussein announced in 1988 the disengagement of Jordan and the West Bank, recognising the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, he insisted Jordan would keep the custodianship of Al-Aqsa.

Moreover, more than half of Jordanians are Palestinian refugees and the majority of Amman residents are either Palestinian refugees or Palestinians with Jordanian citizenship.

Jordan was therefore among 128 countries in the UN General Assembly to vote in favour of a motion rejecting Washington’s decision last month.

In a move to back King Abdullah’s stance against Washington, Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki and other parliamentarians wore badges last month with photos of King Abdullah under which was written ‘custodian of the first Qibla and the third holy mosque’.

Source: Middle East Eye