Riyadh: A Saudi cleric with close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has called on faith leaders to travel to Jerusalem al-Quds in a bid to promote “peace” with Israel.
Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Issa, head of the Muslim World League, made the controversial proposal in New York on the sidelines of an annual conference for “Cultural Rapprochement Between the US and the Muslim World” in New York.
“We should send a peace convoy that is representative of all three Abrahamic religions. They should be Muslim, Christian and Jewish and they should visit all holy sites,” he told Fox News.
“They should meet everyone and find common ground, and they should provide fertile ground to find solutions for peace.”
He also claimed that a possible Jerusalem al-Quds meeting is meant “to keep extremists from taking any advantage of any intellectual holes that they can use to promote their extremist ideologies.”
Saudi Arabia has hostile ties with resistance movements in the Palestinian territories, including Hamas which is fighting the Israeli occupation.
Issa’s remarks further reflect a quiet warming of relations between the regimes in Riyadh and Tel Aviv.
In his comments, the cleric who was formerly the Saudi justice minister noted that the “peace” delegation should only be made up of religious leaders not political figures.
“They should be independent of politics, they should have no political agenda whatsoever. They will be more influential without a political agenda because they are independent,” Issa said.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic relations, but they are widely believed to have secret liaisons. Latest reports say the two regimes are even working behind the scenes to establish formal contact.
Critics say Saudi Arabia’s flirtation with Israel would undermine global efforts to isolate Tel Aviv and affect the Palestinian cause in general. They say Riyadh has gone too far in its cooperation with the Israelis as a way of deterring Iran as an influential player in the region.
Back in April, bin Salman recognized the “right” for Israelis to “have their own land” in an interview with US magazine The Atlantic.
This is while most of the Arab nations do not recognize Israel and reject its claim to the whole Jerusalem al-Quds.
US President Donald Trump, who is a close friend and ally of Saudi leaders, recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel last December and moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city in May.
The embassy relocation sparked global uproar and widespread condemnations.
The international community views the eastern sector of Jerusalem al-Quds as occupied land and Palestinians consider it the capital of their future state.