A Border Police officer overlooks Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel is interested in working with a Jordanian team to coordinate the placement of 24-hour surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount “as soon as possible,” an official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Monday.
“We have no interest in delaying this,” he said.
The official’s comments came after the Wakf, the Muslim religious trust which administers the site, issued a statement on Monday saying that Israel did not allow it to place cameras at the Mughrabi Gate, the only entrance to the Mount for non-Muslims.
“This only proves Israel is seeking to install cameras that serve its own purpose, and does not want to install cameras to show the truth,” a Wakf statement read.
The PMO official said Israel opposed the Wakf move because it was not coordinated with it.
Placing security cameras on the Temple Mount is one step toward calming the situation that was agreed upon following separate meetings US Secretary of State John Kerry had on Thursday and over the weekend with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Jordanian King Abdullah II.
Following the incident at the Mughrabi Gate, the PMO issued a statement saying that “final arrangements for the manner and location of the cameras on the Temple Mount, which was agreed upon among Israel, Jordan, and the United States, were intended to be coordinated by the professional elements.”
The cameras will be installed, the statement read, “according to the arrangements to be determined between the parties. Israel has already expressed its consent to start the process as soon as possible,” the statement continued.
The statement referred to comments made by Kerry in Amman Saturday night announcing the proposal, saying “I expect Jordanian and Israeli technical teams will meet soon to discuss the implementation of this idea.”
Kerry said that the cameras “will provide comprehensive visibility and transparency, and that could really be a game changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity of this holy site.”
According to Israeli officials, the feed from the cameras will go directly to the Israeli police and the Wakf.
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammed Ahmad Hussein, in an interview with Channel 2 on Sunday, said the Jordanian Wakf had not yet decided whether or not to accept the camera proposal.
“We cannot give our stance today in relation to the cameras, it’s a proposal. This issue is under the responsibility of the Wakf,” the mufti observed.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed his hope on Monday that the security arrangements between Israel and the Jordanian Wakf “contribute to ensuring that visitors and worshipers demonstrate restraint and respect for the sanctity of the area.”
Ban also welcomed Netanyahu’s statement reiterating Israel’s commitment to uphold the status quo on the Temple Mount and to keep the holy sites undivided.
“Only by restoring calm will all parties be able to refocus their efforts on renewing confidence and creating conditions on the ground, in the region and internationally for meaningful negotiations towards a two-state solution and to put an end to the occupation that began in 1967,” he said in a statement delivered by his spokesman.
The secretary-general also expressed appreciation for Kerry’s efforts and thanked him for conducting the “fruitful discussions over the past days with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.”Jeremy Sharon and Danielle Ziri in New York contributed to this report.