By Tovah Lazaroff, JPost—
US President Donald Trump didn’t even pause when asked by a reporter in Washington if Saudi Arabia would follow the United Arab Emirates, which last week signed a peace deal with Israel to normalize ties.
“I do,” he said on Wednesday.
Trump was so eager to answer that question from the White House podium he didn’t even wait for the reporter to finish before interrupting her in the affirmative.
It was as if the Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan had not just hours earlier announced that his country had no intention of signing a peace deal with Israel prior to its withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines within the context of a final status agreement for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
Trump’s son-in-law and Special Adviser Jared Kushner has been more cautious about Saudi Arabia, when predicting which countries might agree to recognize Israel prior to any deal with the Palestinians, noting that it would happen, but perhaps not right away.
Former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk speculated on Twitter this week and then in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, that one way to get Saudi Arabia to the table, was to offer them some form of custodianship over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif.
It was, he clarified, a speculative idea and not one which he would recommend.
Saudi Arabia already enjoys custodianship of the Sacred Mosque, Al-Masjid al-Ḥaram (Grand mosque) in Mecca, which is the holiest shrine in Islam.
It is also custodian of the second holiest shrine, The Mosque of the Prophet, known as Al-Masjid al-Nabawi.
Saudi custodianship of al-Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site, would expand its role as the keeper of the Muslim faith.
It’s a role that the House of Saud has always sought, achieving success already a century ago, when it secured custodianship of the Mecca and Medina mosques from the Hashemites, who had previously held that role.
This special religious role is so important that Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, also referred to as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Continue Reading…