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'Go pray in the Knesset,' Palestinians tell Saudi on Israeli-sponsored visit

Mohammed Saud, a self-styled blogger and an admirer of Israel, faces a fierce backlash as he tours Jerusalem
Blogger Mohammed Saud, right, during his sponsored visit to Israel (Screenshot)

A Saudi blogger visiting the Old City of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa compound on an Israeli-sponsored visa was chased and driven out by Palestinian residents, who called him “trash”, “cheap” and “Zionist”, and spat in his face.

Mohammed Saud, a self-styled blogger and vocal admirer of Israel, was on a trip officially sponsored by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

He was part of a delegation of six journalists from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, who met with members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, and visited the Holocaust Museum.

Video circulated on social media shows Palestinian residents of Jerusalem hurling plastic chairs and light bulbs at Saud, who has called on his Twitter account for full normalisation between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“Go pray in the Knesset,” someone told Saud as he walked through the streets of the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem. Others cursed and insulted him, calling him “traitor”, “Zionist”, “trash”, and “cheap”.

As Saud was driven from Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound, one of Islam's holiest sites, one Palestinian told him: “All the children of Palestine spit on you.” A child then jumped up and spat in Saud's face.

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In the footage the blogger is seen wearing a traditional black garb worn by sheikhs and royals in the Arabian Peninsula.

Others cursed Saudi King Salman and called his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a "traitor".

"Trump will milk you, al-Saud," someone warned. Middle East Eye could not confirm the identities of the people appearing in the footage.

The Israeli police issued a statement on Tuesday saying that they arrested three people involved in the "attack on the tourist".

Saud's visit, along with other Arab journalists, is evidence of growing ties between states in the Arab Peninsula and Israel.

Saudi Arabia does not officially recognise the state of Israel. However, the two countries' governments have become increasingly close in recent years, often citing their shared foe Iran as a cause.

Last year, a delegation from Bahrain made up of religious figures toured Jerusalem and urged "coexistance".

Though the government in Riyadh is warming to open relations with Israel, Saudis in general are more circumspect, making Saud's open support all the more unusual.

Translation: I am sure that the Saudi society does not accept any normalisation with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. I also declare that the Zionists want to stir up sedition between the Arab and Muslim communities to bring one side closer to another. In the end, any dispute in their favour seems to me a bad representative who is beaten for photography only.

In a video posted on the 71st anniversary of Israel's founding, and the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) when 700,000 were expelled from their homes, Saud is seen saying, "I love Israel".

"I love this country because it is the icon of freedom," he said.

In an interview with Israeli radio, Saud said he taught himself Hebrew and follows the religious lessons of Amnon Yitzhak, a rabbi with a rock star-esque following.

"I love the Israeli music, and I could perform some of the Hebrew songs by heart and without reading the lyrics from a paper," Saud said.

The Palestinian Journalists Union condemned the journalists' visit saying that it "rejects all types and kinds of normalisation with the Zionist enemy".