Top Saudi cleric says to visit Jerusalem
Visit aims to bolster Muslim claims to the city
A prominent Saudi cleric announced on his television show that he will visit the occupied Jerusalem next week to support Muslim claims to the city, according to media reports on Monday.
"I will shoot the next episode of 'Put your Fingerprint’ show in Jerusalem," Sheik Mohammed al-Areefi said, adding that Muslims have an obligation to Jerusalem.
Sheikh Areefi promised through the Saudi-based Iqraa TV channel that the next episode of his show would introduce "surprises," including a visit to Jerusalem and reports that would "astonish" the viewers.
If Sheik Mohammed al-Areefi goes ahead with his plan, it would be an unprecedented trip for a prominent Saudi. Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam, but most Muslim countries—including Saudi Arabia—observe a boycott of Israel and ban travel there.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said while he was unfamiliar with the case, al-Areefi could apply for a visa from the consulate in Amman.
"Throughout the years many people from countries like Libya, Indonesia and other countries that don't have relations with Israel have visited Jerusalem," he said. "All these visits were naturally coordinated with Israeli authorities."
Al-Areefi is viewed as a comparative moderate among Saudi Arabia's conservative clergy.