Since December of 2019, secret meetings have been held between Israel and Saudi Arabia over the latter’s potential engagement in Administrative control of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. According to a report that was published by the Tel Aviv-based Yisrael Hayom daily ‘the United States has been mediating to include the Saudi Kingdom’s representatives in the Islamic Waqf council on the ancient compound, where both Biblical Temples were once situated. The Israeli newspaper quoted a senior Saudi official as saying “until a few months ago, the Jordanians, who have a special exclusive status in the Islamic Waqf’s management on the Mount (which Muslims refer to as Haram al-Sharif), expressed strong opposition to any change to the so-called status quo. Nevertheless, in light of a growing Turkish influence in East Jerusalem, including on the Temple Mount itself, the Jordanians relayed messages to both Israel and the United States over the Hashemite Kingdom’s will to soften its stance regarding the inclusion of Saudi representatives on the Waqf council. The report further highlighted that the inclusion of representatives of the Saud Royal family would be under terms that it would not harm the special exclusive status of the Hashemite Royal family – both of which have claims of direct lineage to the founder of the Muslim religion, Muhamad. Another Jordanian condition includes a substantial Saudi contribution to Islamic associations operating in East Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount – and separately – Riyadh’s active efforts by means of diplomacy and political pressure ‘to remove the Turkish Islamic organizations that are operating in Jerusalem under Palestinian auspices.
After months in which the Temple Mount was closed to worshippers and visitors, the ancient compound was reopened yesterday to Muslim worshipers, under strict corona-related guidelines of social distancing and protective gear. “Al-Aqsa has opened and we welcomed the worshippers for dawn prayers. The Waqf has finished all required measures to receive the worshippers. We marked the carpets and the outdoor floor. The mosques and the yards have been sanitized,” Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, Al-Aqsa Mosque Director said.
Hundreds of Muslim worshippers arrived at the site, dozens of whom waved Palestinian flags and called for an Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Al-Aqsa – which is the most ancient mosque within the premise of the compound, believed to be built on the ruins of the second Biblical Temple. “Al-Aqsa is our life and it is the beat of our heart, now we are breathing again, now our life is back, thanks to Allah.”‘ Declined to be named, Muslim worshiper – Jerusalem resident. “We were feeling lost, today I can breathe again. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. After they opened the mosque, I feel like I can breathe again. Thanks be to Allah the creator of worlds. I cannot describe my feelings, I cannot explain how I feel,” Umm Hisham, , Muslim worshiper – Jerusalem resident.