TEL AVIV — A Saudi academic expressed support for U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and called on Arabs to recognize the city as holy to Jews, the Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jedda, told the American-based Alhurra television network on Saturday that the move by the U.S. president, which sparked riots across the Arab and Muslim worlds from Tunisia to Indonesia, was a “positive shock” to the flailing 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 will not be futile. We must recognize and realize that Jerusalem is a religious symbol to Jews and sacred to them, as Mecca and Medina is to Muslims,” Hakeem added.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Hakeem — who nine months ago wrote an article for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in which he 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.”
A London-based Saudi news website, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, reported that Hakeem’s comments were met with angry reactions on social media.
Hakeem’s comments came after Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed earlier this month that there are covert ties between Israeli and Saudi officials. 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.