Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended a US-mediated plan to install camera surveillance at the holy site of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, saying that it could denounced claims that Israel is changing its status quo, while Palestinians complained that the camera would be used to spy and arrest people.
Palestinian officials reacted against the plan which the US Secretary of state John Kerry applauded as Jordan’s "excellent suggestion" to stop Israeli-Palestinian tension by constant monitoring of the holy site with camera surveillance.
"This is a new trap," Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki said on Voice of Palestine radio, accusing Israel of planning to use such footage to arrest Muslim worshippers it believes are "inciting" against it.
Kerry met with the Jordan’s King Abdulla and later the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on Saturday. Following the meeting, he said that Israel gave assurance that it has no intention of changing the status quo at the holy site.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the assurance while speaking before his cabinet that, "the Temple Mount will be managed as it has been until now. The visits by Jews to the Temple Mount will be maintained, there will be no change, as with the prayer arrangements for the Muslims," he said. "Israel has an interest in placing cameras around the Temple Mount," to counter the Palestinian claim that Israel is altering the status quo.
Following the days of the meeting with Israel and Arab leaders, Kerry announced that Jordan and Israel have agreed to boost security around the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, which has long been a flash point of flaring tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.
Since in the beginning of October, at least 52 Palestinians, including alleged attackers, unarmed protesters and bystanders have been killed either by Israeli Security Forces or settlers while 10 Israelis have died in recent violence, which was in part triggered by Palestinians' anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque compound
According to Palestinian Health Ministry figures, at least 1,700 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli gunfire since Oct. 1.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also announced that at least 201 Palestinian children were wounded by Israeli soldiers or settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, between October 6 and 12.
The camera surveillance "could really be a game-changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity" of the Al Aqsa site, said Kerry.
The Secretary General of Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat, said Abbas had told Kerry "that he should look into the roots of the problem - and that is the continued occupation."
"He [Netanyahu] wants to install cameras in order to monitor and arrest our people, he is lying and lying," Erekat added.
Meanwhile on Sunday, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli near a Jewish neighbourhood in the West Bank, the military said. The wounded man retaliated by shooting at the Palestinian who was later hospitalised, according to the Health Ministry.
A US official said that Israeli and Jordanian technical officials would discuss who would conduct video monitoring, but no date for consultations was announced.
East Jerusalem was occupied and subsequently annexed by Israel following a war in 1967, a move considered illegal by the international community.
The Al Aqsa Mosque, located in the Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, remains under the control of local Muslim authorities and Jordan maintains custodial rights over the holy site since signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
Also Jordan has often served as an active mediator between Israel and Palestine
A US official said that Israeli and Jordanian technical officials would decide on who would monitor the video surveillance, but no date was fixed for the consultation.