Utilising historical archive photos, the Anadolu team in East Jerusalem successfully pinpointed the building that Saudi Arabia had previously used as its Consulate to Palestine until 1967, Anadolu Agency reports.
Strategically situated in Wadi Al-Joz, the Consulate building stands adjacent to the semi-official headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, known as the Orient House, which Israel closed down in 2001.
The former Consulate building currently serves as an Arabic school where 134 students receive their education. It is also close to Al-Quds University.
As per local sources, the building is owned by a Jerusalemite family. The building comprises of two floors and has 13 rooms with a spacious courtyard.
A copy of the Palestinian newspaper, Al-Defaa, published on 7 April, 1941, reported the joyful reception of the decision to establish a Saudi Consulate in Jerusalem during the British mandate over Palestine between 1920 and 1948.
The newspaper’s headline at that time read “Celebrations for the Appointment of a Saudi Arabian Consulate”, stating: “The local Arab public welcomed the appointment of a Consul for the Saudi Arabian government in Palestine with great joy and pleasure.”
It seems that the Consulate worked in more than one location before settling in its last headquarters. On 30 April, 1941, Al-Defaa Palestinian newspaper said “the Saudi Arabian Consulate began its work in its new house located in the Bab Al-Sahira district”, which is one of the gates of the old town in East Jerusalem.
First non-resident Saudi Ambassador to Palestine
Recently, Riyadh’s Ambassador to Jordan and Palestine, Nayef Al-Sudairi, shared a historical photograph of the inauguration of the Saudi Consulate in East Jerusalem in 1947 on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Under the guidance of the late His Majesty, King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman, in 1947, Uncle Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al-Sudairy sponsored the establishment of the Saudi Consulate-General in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood,” Al-Sudairi said.
On Saturday, Al-Sudairi, the Saudi Ambassador to Jordan, presented his credentials as non-resident Ambassador to Palestine and Consul-General in Jerusalem, to Majdi Al-Khalidi, advisor to the Palestinian President for diplomatic affairs, at the Palestinian Embassy in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
“This appointment signifies the official nature of relations with Palestine across all domains – political, economic and social. We anticipate a promising future for these relations,” Al-Sudairi told reporters, following the presentation of his credentials.
Commenting on the Saudi move, Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, told Radio 103 that Riyadh conveyed “a signal to the Palestinians that they have not been overlooked amidst the ongoing normalisation negotiations (with Israel).”
“We won’t permit the establishment of consulates (in Jerusalem) that don’t align with our interests,” Cohen added.
Diplomatic relations with Palestine
Khalil Tafakji, a political expert on Jerusalem affairs, told Anadolu: “Before the Israeli occupation in 1967, numerous Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, maintained consulates in Jerusalem.”
With this recent decision, Saudi Arabia became the first Arab nation to appoint a Consul-General in Jerusalem, recognising it as the capital of the State of Palestine.
Currently, East Jerusalem hosts consulate-generals accredited to the Palestinian Authority representing Turkiye, France, Greece, Sweden, the Holy See, Italy, Spain and Belgium.
Former US President Donald Trump closed the Consulate-General in Jerusalem accredited to the Palestinian Authority and merged it with the US Embassy in Israel, which was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in mid-2018.
In Ramallah city, numerous foreign and Arab embassies and representations are present, including those of Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.