Saudi Arabia, Israel in secret talks through US mediation over al-Aqsa Mosque: Report
Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime have reportedly been conducting clandestine talks over the past few months through American mediation about the inclusion of the kingdom’s representatives in the Islamic Waqf (Endowment) Council – a religious body that oversees the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds.
Top anonymous Saudi diplomats told Hebrew-language daily Israel Hayom that Riyadh and Tel Aviv have been engaged in the discussions since last December, and a limited negotiating team of senior diplomats and security officials from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States has been involved in the matter.
The diplomats further noted that the talks are part of the contacts to advance the controversial plan laid out by US President Donald Trump on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, dubbed ‘the deal of century.’
The so-called peace plan envisions al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allows the Tel Aviv regime to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The plan also denies Palestinian refugees the right of return to their homeland, among other controversial terms.
Trump’s plan has triggered waves of protest rallies around the globe.
According to a senior Saudi diplomats, Jordanians – who have a special and exclusive status in managing the Islamic Waqf Council – first adamantly objected to any change in the council's composition, but later softened their position to allow Saudi presence.
The report came only a day after dozens of extremist Israeli settlers stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of regime forces, only a few hours after the sacred site was reopened following more than two months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Around 105 Jewish settlers [led by fanatic rabbi Yehudah Glick] have entered the compound since early morning under protection of Israeli police,” Omar Kiswani, director of al-Aqsa Mosque, told Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency on Sunday.
He said the move “came to upset the worshippers” in the wake of the mosque reopening for prayers.
On May 21, Yemen Scholars Association, in a statement, condemned attempts by a number of Arab states to normalize relations with the Israeli regime, holding Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates responsible for any negative repercussions of such bids.
The group stressed the Islamic nature of al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Quds, emphasizing that Zionists are neither welcome there nor have the right to occupy even an iota of the places.
It stressed the need for solid support for resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon in the face of the Zionist threat.
The association then called for the issuance of a fatwa (religious decree), which prohibits and condemns rapprochement with the Zionists, conclusion of deals with their criminal leaders and participation in bilateral conferences.