Saudi blogger Mohammad Saud was attacked and humiliated while visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. The attack took place in the Temple Mount compound and in the alleys of the Old City. This attack can be directly traced to Jordanian and Palestinian incitement against Saudi Arabia.
Jordan and the Palestinian Authority use sophisticated incitement against Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia supports the American “deal of the century” and full normalization of relations with Israel. The Jordanians and Palestinians are not willing to tolerate this.
The official Saudi Arabian stand is to maintain its silence. Saudi Arabia offered no official response to the assault on the Saudi media activist Mohammad Saud during his visit to the Temple Mount compound.
Make no mistake about it. The Saudi leadership is vindictive but patient. It will find the right time to settle its score with Jordan and the PA.
In a few weeks, the pilgrimage to Mecca will begin, and in east Jerusalem, there is significant apprehension about the Saudi authorities’ expected treatment of Palestinian pilgrims from east Jerusalem.
Mohammad Saud was cursed and spat upon by the Palestinians. The attackers targeted him with various thrown objects, and the Muslim Waqf guards looked on from the sidelines. They did nothing to prevent the attack, despite the assault taking place in the third most holy site for Islam. Mecca and Medina are the only religious sites more important to Muslims.
The Israeli police already arrested three young men who took part in the attack. More arrests are expected.
The Roles of Jordan and the Palestinians
The Muslim Waqf belongs to the Jordanian Ministry of Religious Endowments. The Waqf guards on the Temple Mount receive their salaries from Jordan.
Since talk of President Trump’s “deal of the century” began, Jordan initiated a strong incitement campaign on social media against the Saudi royal family – encouraged by bodies affiliated with the Jordanian monarchy. The Saudi royal family is accused of undermining Jordan to deprive it of its special custodial status for Jerusalem’s holy sites. This status was accorded to Jordan in the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
About a month ago, prior to the economic conference in Bahrain, the incitement intensified. Rumors were spread claiming a “deal” between President Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. As part of the “deal of the century,” the fake news suggested Saudi Arabia will be responsible for the entire Temple Mount in Jerusalem just as it is responsible as the custodian for Islam’s holy places in Mecca and Medina.
There is no doubt that this incitement and hatred of Saudi Arabia penetrated the ranks of the Muslim Waqf institutions on the Temple Mount. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the Waqf guards did not prevent the attack on Saudi media activist Mohammad Saud during his visit.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia have a very cool relationship. Saudi Arabia suspended its financial support of Jordan. King Abdullah ordered Jordan to form closer ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s enemy –despite the Arab Quartet’s boycott of Qatar. Only last week, Jordan and Qatar exchanged ambassadors after a two-year break.
Soured Palestinian Relations
As for the Palestinian position, the Palestinian Authority did not condemn the attack on the Saudi journalist.
The PA is inciting against the Saudi royal family, especially against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. And the campaign is very clever. Their platform is mostly social media – no official media channels. Mahmoud Abbas does not want to lose Saudi Arabia’s monthly financial aid to the PA.
The Palestinians accuse Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman of plotting the “deal of the century” together with Jared Kushner, advisor and son-in-law of President Trump. They claim that he came up with the idea of making Abu Dis the Palestinian capital instead of Jerusalem.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is firmly opposed to anything perceived as Saudi normalization with Israel. He was against the visit to Israel of Maj. Gen. (ret) Anwar Eshki, head of a Saudi Research Institute, as well as statements regarding the normalization with Israel made by senior Saudi officials and the media.
Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former head of Saudi intelligence, recently stated in an interview for an Israeli television station that he wants to visit Israel.
In another television interview, Saudi journalist Fahd Alshomari declared, “the Palestinians are beggars,” “have no honor,” and “the Al-Aqsa mosque is a Jewish prayer house.”
Saudi researcher Louis Sharif, interviewed by Israeli television during the Bahrain conference in fluent Hebrew, expressed support for Saudi tourism to Israel.
The Palestinians harbor great hatred for Saudi Arabians. The delegation of Arab reporters and bloggers, such as Mohammad Saud, invited by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, whipped the Palestinians into a fury. “How does this brazen-faced person dare to visit the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, at the same time as he is working towards normalization with Israel?” Fatah officials in east Jerusalem asked.
For the Palestinians, Mohammad Saud’s visit to the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem symbolizes the face of Saudi Arabia’s new leadership, led by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. This new leadership began its relationship with Israel by sending media and social networking activists to visit Israel in anticipation of attaining full normalization. This became possible after the Saudis solidified security and intelligence relations with Israel.
Mohammad Saud fell victim to the violence that Jordan and the PA incitement has unleashed in reaction to Saudi relations with Israel. He was incredibly lucky that he was not physically hurt. He maintained an unruffled demeanor and did not confront his attackers, but quickly left the site.
The Palestinian and Jordanian incitement against normalization with Israel continues. Next week Jared Kushner will visit the area to promote the “deal of the century.” It appears that the winds are stirring, and these incidents are just the forerunners of the storm.