Yusuf bin Alawi
Yusuf bin AlawiReuters

Yusuf bin Alawi, the Omani minister in charge of foreign affairs, on Thursday made a rare visit by an Arab official to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, AFP reported.

His visit comes in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6, a move that angered the Muslim world.

Such a visit would usually require coordination with Israeli officials. An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said he was unaware of the visit and could not immediately comment.

Oman and Israel do not have official diplomatic relations.

According to AFP, Bin Alawi visited the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque at the compound and said "it is a duty of Arabs to visit the mosque if they can".

Earlier in the day, he met Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

After the Al-Aqsa compound, according to AFP, Bin Alawi also visited the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has spoken repeatedly of improving ties with Arab nations in recent months, but there is no indication that the Omani minister's visit was connected to those comments.

Most of the reports in recent months have pointed to a possible rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

One of those reports indicated that a senior member of the Saudi royal family, perhaps even the crown prince himself, held high-level talks with Israeli officials during a clandestine trip to the Jewish state.

Saudi Arabia vehemently denied the reports, saying they were unfounded.

In December, an interfaith group from Bahrain said it sent a delegation to Israel and Jerusalem to promote "tolerance and coexistence".

The non-governmental organization, which calls itself "This is Bahrain", insisted the visit was unofficial, though its mission statements say it has the backing of King Hamad.