Saudi diplomat cancels Temple Mount visit due to Palestinian outrage

Saudi Ambassador to the PA skips Temple Mount tour, fearing ire of Palestinian public.

By World Israel News Staff

Saudi Arabia’s non-resident ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Nayef al-Sudairi, will not visit the Temple Mount because of backlash from the Palestinian public, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

Al-Sudairi is currently leading a delegation of Saudi envoys, who have met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and visited other PA-controlled enclaves in Judea and Samaria.

Critics of al-Sudairi were opposed to his scheduled visit to the Temple Mount due to its location in eastern Jerusalem.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque within the compound is controlled by the Jordanian Islamic Waqf organization and Jews are forbidden from worshipping there.

Despite this, some Palestinians argue that diplomats who visit the site are “normalizing” Israel’s control over the Temple Mount, simply because the holy site is located within Israel’s capital city and Israeli police are stationed at some pedestrian entrances to the compound.

On previous occasions, Palestinians have hurled obscenities at and harassed Emirati and Bahraini visitors to the Temple Mount, due to their countries normalizing relations with the Jewish State.

The Saudi delegation’s meetings with the PA come on the heels of a historic state visit by Israel’s Tourism Minister to the Gulf Kingdom, and ongoing negotiations aimed at securing a normalization agreement between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

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Speaking to Palestinian media in Ramallah earlier this week, al-Sudairi stressed that his trip was in service of the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

The diplomat said his presence in the region “reaffirms that the Palestinian cause and Palestine and the people of Palestine are of high and important status [to Saudi Arabia], and that in the coming days there will be a chance for a bigger cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the state of Palestine”.

Earlier in 2023, a prominent Saudi journalist hinted that the Gulf Kingdom was interested in taking over responsibility for the site.

“[A solution to] the Al-Aqsa issue is a key condition for the establishment of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Saudi journalist Abdel Aziz Al-Khamis said at a conference in Jerusalem.

“Saudi Arabia has a significant role in the Arab and Muslim world and therefore sees critical importance in regulating the holy places for Islam in east Jerusalem.”