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Report: Israeli, Saudi Officials Discuss Temple Mount Coordination

Israeli and Saudi officials have reportedly been conducting secret US-mediated talks for six months about the possibility of incorporating representatives from Riyadh onto the committee that controls the Islamic Waqf, which administers Muslim holy places atop the Temple Mount. The compound, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, is Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third-holiest. It is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. The Israel Hayom newspaper cited an unnamed Saudi source as saying that the negotiations have included “sensitive and covert contacts that were conducted in ambiguity and low intensity by a limited team of senior diplomats and security officials from Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia as part of the [effort] to advance the [Trump Administration’s Middle East peace] plan.” According to the report, Jordan, which is the custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites, is on board with the initiative. Last year, King Abdullah II expanded the Waqf’s central committee to 18 members in order to include high-ranking Palestinian Authority officials. The prospect of integrating Saudis onto the governing body reportedly comes on the backdrop of fears in Amman over the growing influence of Turkish-sponsored organizations in the eastern part of Jerusalem.