- Israel, Saudis hold talks for Riyadh to join Temple Mount Waqf – report
Move comes amid reported concern in Amman over Turkish influence at the site and elsewhere in East Jerusalem
Israeli and Saudi officials have been conducting secret talks since December, mediated by the United States, with the aim of integrating representatives from Riyadh onto the Islamic Waqf Council that controls the Temple Mount, the Israel Hayom daily reported Monday. The move was said to come as Jordan is reportedly increasingly worried by the levels of Turkish influence in Palestinian affairs and matters concerning East Jerusalem.
Unnamed senior Saudi officials told Israel Hayom that “these are sensitive and covert contacts that were conducted in ambiguity and low intensity by a limited team of senior diplomats and security officials from Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia as part of the contacts to advance the [White House’s Middle East peace] plan.”
The Waqf, a Jordanian-appointed council, oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. It claims exclusive authority over the Temple Mount compound and says it is not subject to Israeli jurisdiction. Tensions often escalate at the site.
According to the report, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has changed his mind about altering the makeup of the Waqf after a series of protests last year and the reopening of the Gate of Mercy, a section just off the Al Aqsa Mosque plaza.