Saudi Arabia's governing body denounced Israeli settlements in Jerusalem Monday as a violation of Palestinian human rights. The ministerial council also called for strategies to stop Israeli attempts to partition al-Aqsa Mosque and the detention of Palestinian citizens in the Holy City.
“Israel has moved some offices to occupied Jerusalem and has been arresting Palestinians in groups. Such developments and violations of Palestinian human rights prove its flagrant attempts to Judaize the holy city through accelerating the pace of settlements,” said a statement from the Saudi Council of Ministers, which is led by Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz. The statement was reported in Middle Eastern newspapers Tuesday. A response from Israel was not immediately made public.
The Saudi information and culture minister, Adel Al-Tarifi, said Israeli policies in Jerusalem "amount to human rights violations," reported the Middle East Monitor. He also added: "They are flagrant attempts carried out by the occupation authorities aiming at Judaising the City of Jerusalem throughout accelerating settlement and moving government offices to the city based on Plan 2020."
Jerusalem's Old City, founded around 4,000 BC, is divided between Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Armenian quarters.
The European Union criticized Israel in May for approving the construction of 900 new settler homes in East Jerusalem. “Israel’s determination to continue its settlement policy despite the urging of the international community not only threatens the viability of the two state solution but also seriously calls into question its commitment to a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians,” EU officials said in a statement at the time.
Tensions remain high in the holy city. Israeli extremist settlers vandalized Sunday the al-Aqsa Mosque. Armed police guards allegedly escorted the vandals. The mosque is located at a site known as the Noble Sanctuary, which is considered the third most holy place in Islam. It's also a holy site for Jews, who call it Temple Mount.
Israel took control of the holy site when it seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, but immediately handed back control to the Islamic Waqf council, a trust run by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Israel did retain control of security at the site and has prohibited non-Muslim prayer at the Noble Sanctuary, which has sparked protests in recent years.