A Saudi official praised Israel for allowing its Muslim population to travel to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, unlike some Muslim-majority countries, i24NEWS reports.
While the minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif Bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh, did not specify which country he was referring to, it is likely he is referring to Qatar, which reportedly claimed last week that its citizens could not register for the pilgrimage, which is mandatory for Muslims to carry out at least once in their life if they have the means.
“The state of Israel, from what we know of it, has not banned Muslim pilgrims from coming to the Kingdom to take part in their religious obligation, however one of the countries, as we know or have been told, have banned pilgrims from traveling,” Al-Sheikh said.
Despite a government official telling AFP that “registration of pilgrims from the State of Qatar remains closed and residents of Qatar cannot be granted visas as there are no diplomatic missions,” Saudi authorities reportedly deny blocking Qatari pilgrims and claim they are welcome.
A tweet of the video of the rare praise of Israel by Saudi Arabia — which still does not officially recognize Israel — was responded to by Israel’s Arabic account stating, “Thank God, Israel facilitated for more than 4,000 Muslim citizens to head to the holy places to complete the Hajj pilgrimage.”
The compliment comes after slight improvements to Saudi-Israeli relations, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman acknowledging Israel’s right to exist while year-long tensions with Qatar have resulted in Saudi Arabia threatening to physically separate Qatar from Saudi Arabia by digging a canal.