Saudi academic calls on Arabs to recognize Jewish connection to Jerusalem

President Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel set off protests across the Arab and Muslim world.

A Jewish man praying at the Western Wall (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Jewish man praying at the Western Wall
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Saudi academic has voiced support for US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling on Arabs to recognize the city’s sanctity for Jews.
Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jedda, told US-based Alhurra television on Saturday that Trump’s move – which touched off protests across the Muslim world from Tunisia to Indonesia – constitutes a “positive shock” to the peace process.
“We as Arabs must come to an understanding with the other party and know what its demands are, so that we can succeed in peace-negotiation efforts, so that negotiations not be futile,” Hakeem said. “We must recognize and realize that Jerusalem is a religious symbol to Jews and sacred to them, as Mecca and Medina are to Muslims.”
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Hakeem – who in a March article for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy stressed that Israel and Saudi Arabia face a common, Nazi-like threat in Iran – said the “Arab mind must liberate itself from the legacy of [former Egyptian President] Gamal Abdul-Nasser, and the legacy of both the Sunni and Shi’a sects, which has instilled for political interests the culture of Jew-hatred and denial of their historic right in the region.”
The London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed website reported that Hakeem’s comments touched off an angry response on social media. One user, A. Elmhay, wrote, “The Zionizing Arabs are a greater danger than the Zionists themselves.”
Hakeem’s statements came after National infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed earlier this month the existence of covert Israeli-Saudi contacts. The Saudi website Elaph, meanwhile, broke a taboo by publishing interviews with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Transportation Minister Israel Katz.
Last week, a delegation from close Saudi ally Bahrain made an unprecedented visit to Jerusalem as guests of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is organizing a trip to the Gulf kingdom by a group of Israeli businessmen next month.