Tension escalates over Al Aqsa mosque surveillance cameras

Muslim authority of Al Asqa mosque says Israeli forces preventing crew from installing surveillance cameras in Al Aqsa compound, despite Kerry’s idea and instructions of instalment from Jordanian royal court

Photo by: AA archive photo
Photo by: AA archive photo

Palestinians accused Israel of trying to seize administrative control of Al Aqsa Mosque

The Muslim authority (the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf) which controls the Muslim holy site of Al Aqsa Mosque said on Monday that Israeli Police blocked it from installing security cameras around the mosque compound, although it had previously reached an agreement on the matter.

Following days of meeting with Israeli and Arab leaders, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced over the weekend 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 for tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

Azzam Khatib, the director of the Waqf who monitors Muslim affairs at the holy site, said the Israeli forces blocked their crew from putting a surveillance camera at the entrance to the precinct.

"They told our crews to stop the installation work and ordered us to remove everything we already had installed," he told Al Jazeera.

Khatib also added that he was given an order by officials at the Royal Court in Jordan to install the surveillance cameras.

Israeli authorities have claimed that the installation process is premature.

An Israeli government spokesman told Al Jazeera that Jordanians and Israeli authorities are expected to meet "very soon" to discuss how the deal brokered by Kerry, including the installation of the security cameras, would be implemented.

Police spokesperson Luba Samri also told The Times of Israel that "the issue is still being discussed at a diplomatic level".

"Once a decision is made it will be implemented with the approval and coordination of all relevant parties," Samri said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier welcomed the deal, claiming the surveillance camersa would prove that Israel is not doing something wrong at the holy site.

A statement from Netanyahu's office on Monday said, "Final arrangements for the manner and location of the cameras on the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Mosque compound], which was agreed upon between Israel, Jordan and the United States, were intended to be coordinated by the professional elements."

US Secretary of State John Kerry said at a press conference on Saturday with the Foreign Minister of Jordan, "I expect Jordanian and Israeli technical teams will meet soon to discuss the implementation of this idea."  

"The cameras will be installed according to the arrangements to be determined between the parties. Israel has already expressed its consent to start the process as soon as possible."   

Hayel Dawoud, Jordan's minister of religious affairs, said, "Israel is overstepping on the role of the Jordanian ministry of Islamic affairs [in managing the site] when it prevented Jerusalem's Waqf officials from installing security cameras inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.

"Al-Aqsa is under the Hashemite [Jordanian] custodianship, while Israel has no right to intervene in the affairs of the Waqf and Al-Aqsa."

Abbas seeks EU's help in defusing crisis

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that violence between Israelis and Palestinians could worsen and has called for the EU’s in helping to deescalate the recent upswing in tension between the two peoples.

"The situation in Palestine is extremely serious and grave and may even deteriorate. This is my fear," Abbas said in Brussels on Monday, adding, "The main reason is the feeling of disappointment [among] the young generation," who feel that there is "no hope."

Palestinian president seeks EU's help to defuse crisis

President Abbas met with EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini in Brussels on Monday to discuss on how to prevent further violence.

Also on Monday, three Palestinians were shot dead in the West Bank.

"What we are looking for...is to come back and stick and commit to this status quo [over holy sites] that unfortunately has been neglected and ignored by the Israeli government," Abbas said.

TRTWorld and agencies