Com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter in­vites Saudi mufti to Is­rael

Ay­oub Kara praises cleric for con­demn­ing Ha­mas

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Ay­oub Kara tweeted on Mon­day that he wel­comed com­ments by Saudi Ara­bia’s most se­nior Is­lamic au­thor­ity, Grand Mufti Ab­du­laziz Al al-Sheikh, in which the mufti had con­demned war and the killing of Jews.

Kara’s tweet praised the mufti for say­ing that “Ha­mas is a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion that hurts the Pales­tini­ans and the al-Aksa Mosque protests are a form of dem­a­goguery.”

Ac­cord­ing to Daily Sabah, a Turk­ish news­pa­per, the mufti had ap­peared on a tele­vi­sion pro­gram and was asked about fight­ing against Is­rael. The mufti re­sponded that Ha­mas is a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The Mufti was also asked about the wave of protests that swept Jerusalem af­ter the state placed metal de­tec­tors at the gates to the al-Aksa com­pound in July.

“Also it is pos­si­ble to co­op­er­ate with the IDF to elim­i­nate Hezbol­lah,” Kara tweeted. “I in­vite the Mufti to visit Is­rael and be wel­comed with honor.”

The Mufti has been an out­spo­ken critic of ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism.

In Oc­to­ber he wel­comed the cre­ation of a new cen­ter in Saudi Ara­bia’s Me­d­ina called the King Sal­man Com­plex for the Prophet’s Ha­dith.

It aims to “elim­i­nate fake and ex­trem­ist texts and any texts that con­tra­dict the teach­ings of Is­lam and jus­tify the com­mit­ting of crimes, mur­ders and ter­ror­ist acts.”

Ac­cord­ing to The Na­tional in the UAE, the Mufti said he hoped that peo­ple would study proper Is­lamic teach­ings, “to lib­er­ate peo­ple from the dark­ness of thought, the ex­trem­ism and mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Ko­ran.”

It is not the first time the Grand Mufti has al­luded to “dem­a­goguery” in dis­cussing Pales­tini­ans.

In Au­gust 2014, ac­cord­ing to Al­ghadeer TV, he called on cit­i­zens to sup­port Pales­tini­ans with hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and not to march in the streets, which he deemed “mobs” and “ex­ag­ger­a­tions.”

Since Saudi Ara­bia and its Gulf al­lies broke relations with Qatar, relations with Ha­mas have cooled.

Ha­mas’s for­eign relations chief Osama Ham­dan told Al-Mayadeen in May that “our re­la­tion­ship with Saudi Ara­bia is at a stand­still at the mo­ment.”

In Au­gust, Saudi news­pa­per Al Riyadh de­scribed Ha­mas as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion and con­demned Ha­mas relations with Iran.

On Novem­ber 7 Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas vis­ited Saudi Ara­bia and re­ceived sup­port from King Sal­man. Ab­bas re­cently signed a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion agree­ment with Ha­mas in Cairo in Oc­to­ber.

The com­ments by the Mufti and pos­i­tive per­cep­tions of Saudi Ara­bia’s pol­icy among some Is­raelis ap­pear to come in this broader con­text, in­clud­ing Riyadh’s re­cent tough stance against Hezbol­lah and Iran’s med­dling in Le­banon.


SAUDI ARA­BIA’S Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man (right) shakes hands with Grand Mufti Ab­du­laziz Al al-Sheikh dur­ing a pledge of al­le­giance in Mecca on June 21.

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