Mendi Safadi, who heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Human Rights and Public Relations and who formerly served as Minister Ayoob Kara’s Chief of Staff, met with Saudi officials in Washington, DC. They discussed Saudi-Israeli relations, potential cooperation on the Iranian issue and the normalization of economic ties between the two countries. They even discussed the possibility of the Saudis taking over control of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The Al Aqsa Mosque is presently being ruled by the Jordanians. The Jordanians have a history of ignoring the fact that various Palestinian groups have been utilizing the holy site in order to start riots and engage in other acts of violence against Israel. Indeed, according to various sources, the Jordanian regime stands behind much of the unrest in the Temple Mount area. Their media outlets call attacks against Israelis “heroic operations” and they urge Palestinians to harm Israel.
In a previous interview conducted by JerusalemOnline, Dr. Mordechai Kedar stated: ““There is no doubt that Jordan fights against Israel in every arena except the security arena around the border. A Jordanians prince named Zaid bin Raad is the head of the International Human Rights Council in Geneva. He is behind a series of decisions that are against Israel. He is directed by the king to bash Israel at every possible opportunity. Jordan was behind the decisions of UNESCO, which doesn’t recognize the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and Hebron. Many other actions they do cannot go along with the peace agreement with Jordan.”
Given this reality, Safadi is pushing for Saudi Arabia potentially replacing the Jordanians as the head of the Waqf on the Temple Mount. According to Safadi, “The interesting thing is that the Saudi side stated that many young Saudis have been waiting for normalization to develop between the two countries. Therefore, there is a strong desire to meet and to recognize, to look for joint issues between the two peoples and to cooperate in business and technology.”
Safadi sees an agreement on the Temple Mount to be the most important issue on the table: “It is a great shame that Israeli citizens are being harmed and that all of the time people impose the status quo. This is not the first time that I raise the issue of the Temple Mount and the ban on Jews going up there to pray. There is no ban in the Quran even if a Jew wishes to go to Mecca and they even expressed their concerns regarding the politicization of the Temple Mount. It is clear that the escalation on the Temple Mount is connected to the takeover by the Islamic Movement and the weakness of Jordanian decision-makers. They are the main cause of this escalation.”
According to Safadi, the present ruling regime in Jordan only pays wages without taking any actions in order to preserve order on the Temple Mount. He claimed that if the Saudis take over the Temple Mount, a move that will be widely acceptable in the Muslim world, then order can be restored in the area and members of all faiths will be able to pray there: “Muslim tourists coming to pray on the Temple Mount and other signs of normalization will change Israel’s relationship with the Arab world.”
When asked about the possibility of enhanced Saudi-Israeli ties, Safadi replied: “You have to understand that there are Arabs beyond those that are called Palestinians and there has been a noticeable change towards Israel in the Arab world.” Not too long ago, Israel sold Saudi Arabia the Iron Dome so that they could better defend themselves against attacks from Houthi rebels in Yemen. Many analysts noted that this was a major breakthrough in Saudi-Israeli relations. According to Safadi, “I believe that in the coming decades, things can change especially because the young people do not believe in the tyrannical slogans in the Arab world.”