JEDDAH: Saudi King Salman is said to have personally intervened with top US officials to ensure the reopening of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
According to a report in Elaph online portal, the king spoke with top US officials seeking the holy mosque’s reopening.
The report quotes a senior source as saying that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised US officials that he had decided to restore the status quo at the mosque which is what the Muslim world and the residents of Jerusalem have been demanding.
According to Elaph, Netanyahu has invited Saudi officials to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque and to assess first-hand the situation on the ground.
Arab News has sought a response from the White House in order to confirm the report.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Cabinet expressed deep concern over the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli occupation authorities.
It constituted a flagrant offense to Muslim sentiments around the world, said the Saudi Cabinet.
Such an act is a dangerous development that will further complicate the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, it added.
King Salman chaired the Cabinet session on Monday at Al-Salaam Palace in Jeddah.
The Cabinet called on the international community to shoulder its responsibility and put an end to such practices.
Muslims heeded calls Monday not to enter the holy site and protested outside after Israeli authorities installed metal detectors at entrances to the compound.
Palestinians view the new security measures as Israel asserting further control over the holy site.
The Waqf, Jordan’s Islamic authority that manages religious affairs at the site, was outraged over the metal detectors.
The Waqf, together with other Islamic groups, issued a statement Monday calling on Muslims “to reject and boycott all the Israeli aggression measures, including changing the historical status quo including imposing the metal detectors.”
They called on the faithful “not to enter the mosque through” the detectors.
The statement said that “if the metal detectors continue to be imposed, we call upon the people to pray in front of the gates of the mosque and in the streets of Jerusalem.”
The Haram Al-Sharif compound was largely empty on Monday apart from tourists and Jewish visitors, with Muslims again praying and protesting outside the site instead of entering through the metal detectors.
Several hundred people could be seen praying outside two different entrances to the site around midday on Monday.
There were protests after the prayer, with crowds shouting: “Aqsa mosque, we sacrifice our souls and our blood.” Police later sought to move them back.
“We will not break the solidarity of the people,” said Jamal Abdallah, a Palestinian who now lives in the US state of Arizona and was planning to visit Al-Aqsa, but changed his mind when he was told of the situation.
Israel installed the metal detectors after an attack on Friday near the holy site that saw three people open fire on Israeli police.
They then fled to the compound, where they were shot dead by security forces.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the decision to install the metal detectors and cameras following a meeting with security officials Saturday. He also spoke by phone with Jordan’s King Abdallah Saturday night.
The king condemned the attack, but also called on Netanyahu to reopen the Al-Aqsa compound and stressed the need to “avoid any escalation at the site.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas conveyed a similar message to Netanyahu when the two spoke by phone on Friday in the wake of the attack.
— With inputs from AFP, AP