(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke on Sunday about his decision to sever ties with Israel until it reverses its decision to place metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, saying that his decision includes the security coordination with the Jewish state. "We announced an unequivocal stance, especially regarding the security coordination," Abbas said.
"This decision is not at all easy, but the Israelis ought to know that they are going to be the ones who will ultimately lose, because we do a lot to defend their security and ours. We are convinced that terror must be fought everywhere, but the magnometers must be removed," the PA president continued.
Speaking at a convention of scientists in Ramallah, Abbas reiterated: "We will not allow the electronic gates to continue [to be placed] there. Sovereignty is our full right, and we need to supervise Al-Aksa and stand guard at its gates. There is no right to place these magnometers," he charged.
Amid the ongoing tensions surrounding the security situation at the Temple Mount, police have placed security cameras at the Lion’s Gate on the eastern side of the Old City where most Muslim worshipers enter to pray at the site.
The closed-circuit TV cameras on scaffolding at the Lion’s Gate now compliment the metal detectors that were placed there last week to secure the Temple Mount from firearms, after three Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli police officers there earlier this month.
The cameras are reportedly able to detect whether or not individuals are armed with guns, knives or other weapons as they approach, allowing security personnel to identify and detain them before they have a chance to attack.
The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, rejected even this solution however, saying no security option would be accepted.
“All the religious authorities in Jerusalem are opposed to new Israeli security measures at al-Aksa mosque,” Hussein told Channel 10.
“The situation must return to what it was previously. Muslim worshipers must be able to enter all the gates with total freedom and without any security methods or obstacles.”
Later Sunday morning, several journalists were removed by the police from the vicinity of the Temple Mount in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and forced to wait outside of Herod’s Gate for more than three hours.
One of the journalists, The Jerusalem Post's chief photographer Marc Israel Sellem, had his ID papers temporarily confiscated by the police as he tried to photograph the new security cameras and Muslim prayers at 1 p.m. outside the Lion’s Gate.
The police said the journalists were removed because Muslim worshipers were finishing prayers and leaving the Temple Mount compound, and they wanted to avoid a confrontation between masses of worshipers and the press.
According to Sellem however however, there was no prayer service at the time he and the other journalists were removed.
The Foreign Press Association issued a strongly worded protest later on Sunday following the incident, calling it a “deplorable situation” and alleging that “journalists were held for questioning and relegated to distant positions totally useless for reporting or taking relevant photos.”
Said the FPA: “It is unclear how these areas are today open to tourists while accredited journalists and photojournalists are deliberately being kept out. This appears to be a kind of innovative censorship that is surprising in a country that prides itself on press freedom.”