Saudi academic has voiced backing for US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and called on Arabs to recognize the city’s sanctity to 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.
Hakeem added: “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. 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 – 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.”
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 tiny Gulf kingdom by a group of Israeli businessmen for next month.