'Zionist, Go Away': Saudi Influencer on Official Israel Visit Heckled by Palestinians

Slammed for 'normalization with the enemy,' residents curse, throw chairs at media activist Muhammed Saud during Jerusalem tour with the Israeli Foreign Ministry

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A media activist from Saudi Arabia, who has voiced his support for normalization with Israel, was verbally attacked by Palestinians, with a few documented throwing chairs toward him, while visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Monday.

The man, Muhammed Saud, was visiting Israel as part of a delegation of six Arab journalists and media activists from and , hosted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Videos posted on social media and on Al Jazeera show Saud being harassed, cursed at and spat on during his visit to the holy site. People also threw plastic chairs at him in the Old City market, but he wasn't wounded.

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In a video of him there, people can be heard shouting at him in Arabic: "Go pray in a synagogue and not here," as well as "Zionist," "Go away," "Shame on you" and " does not receive people like you." 

Israeli police said on Tuesday that they arrested three residents of in connection with the attack and are expected to make more arrests.

"We strongly condemn the brutal and immoral behavior by some near al-Aqsa Mosque toward the Saudi media activist who came to Jerusalem to be a bridge for peace and understanding between peoples," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Nizar Amer wrote on Twitter. 

"Those [people] are horribly exploiting the holy places as a political tool. We embrace the young man who was and will remain a guest of honor in Israel," he added.

The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association on Monday condemned the Arab delegation for normalizing relations with Israel.

The Lebanese Shi'ite movement in a statement denounced the delegation for what it described as "normalization visits with the enemy." 

Saud with a Foreign Ministry spokesman, welcoming him to his 'second home'
Foreign Ministry director general welcomes the six-member delegation on Twitter

It asserted that such visits are being done at the expense of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause. "It only gives political and media cover for the crimes committed by the forces," the statement read.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with Iraq or Saudi Arabia. Israeli Prime Minister has repeatedly said that behind the scenes there is a growing rapprochement between Israel and several Arab states.

Netanyahu met the delegation on Tuesday and according to a statement by his office, spoke of its importance, saying: "They talk about how so many in the Arab world want to have peace with Israel, normalization with Israel, want to come to Israel." 

"They're not always free to express it, and there's always opposition from those who want to take us back, but they expressed that desire," he continued.

Netanyahu said he told the group that without Israel: "the entire Middle East would collapse to the forces of Islamic radicalism, whether Shi'ite led by or Sunni radicalism led by Daesh ."

A video message posted by Saud in May.