- Israel Straddles The Divide as Saudis Vie for Influence Over Temple Mount
by Nadav Shragai, https://www.israelhayom.com/
The cancellation of Netanyahu’s flight to the UAE exposed Israel’s role in Amman’s and Riyadh’s battle for a foothold on Islam’s third holiest site.
Two events of religious and historical significance that very nearly took place over the last 24 hours point to a deeper layer in Jordan and Saudi Arabia’s struggle for guardianship of Islamic holy places on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Israel has now been dragged into this struggle against its will.
Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein, King Abdullah’s son, was about to enter the gates of the Temple Mount, Wednesday, to perpetuate Jordan’s formal status as the Muslim world’s guardian of the site. However, the visit was canceled at the last minute, supposedly due to a “disagreement over security arrangements.” From the Jordanians’ perspective, this public flag-raising was urgently necessary given the unrefuted reports another crown prince, from Riyadh, was engaged in negotiations with Israel on whether Bin Salman would meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When it comes to talks with the Saudis, the Temple Mount is also a priority.
As an Islamic power that already controls Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam, Saudi Arabia has shown increasing interest in gaining a significant foothold at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. Riyadh is looking to create a new status quo at the site and is willing to invest tens of billions of dollars in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and agree to some form of normalization of ties with Israel to this end.
In return, Saudi Arabia wants a senior role, alongside Israel, in running the mount, instead of or alongside Jordan, among other things. Riyadh is poised to reap huge dividends from such a move. It will gain the status of a religious power that controls the three holiest sites in Islam as well as ensure the defeat of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, who has been unrelenting in his attempts to “liberate” the mount from Israel.