Saudi King Asks Obama to Pressure Israel Over Temple Mount

September 18, 2015

2 min read

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Abdul Aziz spoke by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday and asked him to stop the Israeli attacks on the Temple Mount. Israeli Police have been clashing with Arab rioters as violence explodes all over Israel’s capital.

He was quoted by the Saudi Press Agency as saying, “The Israeli attacks contribute to feeding extremism and violence in the world.”

The powerful monarch and leader of Sunni Islam also called on the United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and members of the UN Security Council to intervene. The Saudi Press Agency reported that King Salman also made phone calls to British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and French President Francois Hollande.

King Mohammad VI of Morocco and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have also come out strongly against Israel over the Temple Mount violence, despite their close political and economic ties with Israel.

Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas spoke Thursday night with the King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, asking them to bring international pressure against Israel.

WAFA also reported that Abbas spoke to Pope Francis about the “Israeli aggression” in the city, warning that Israeli actions will lead to an explosive religious conflict in the region. Abbas requested the pontiff advocate for the Palestinian dominance on the Temple Mount when he meets with senior American officials during his visit to the United States next week. Pope Francis will meet with President Obama at the White House next Wednesday, during the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. The Vatican and the PA have recently signed a treaty and in his recent visit to the region, Pope Francis referred to Abbas as an “Angel of Peace”. It should be noted that earlier in the week, Abbas made a statement on Palestinian television claiming Palestinian dominance over the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Vatican’s response to that statement was not reported.

In an act of unity with the Muslims of Jerusalem, the Jordanians have declared a Day of Rage, with a march in the capital, Amman, expected to draw thousands. Jordanian King Abdullah II has also come out against Israel, saying, “Any more provocations in Jerusaem will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel, and Jordan will have no choice but to take action.”  In a 1994 treaty, Jordan was given custodianship over Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites.

Many countries, including the United States, have called for a return to the “status quo” on the Temple Mount. In effect, that means a demand for a ban on Jews visiting the Temple Mount. Until the recent violence, Jews were permitted to visit the site, though non-Muslims were prevented from praying. It is unclear whether the new definition of the status quo will prevent all non-Muslims from visiting the Temple Mount or if the international demands will also prevent other religious groups from visiting the site.

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