A Palestinian youth is silhouetted as he holds a toy gun and a Koran during a protest after Friday prayers on Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Following fierce Palestinian protests and threats, Jordan said on Monday that it has abandoned its plan to install security cameras on the Temple Mount.
The decision was announced by Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour.
The security cameras were supposed to be installed on the Temple Mount in accordance with an agreement
reached late last year between Israel and Jordan
under the auspices of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Ensour said that Jordan would “always remain at the forefront of those defending Palestine, its cause, people and holy sites.”
Last week, Palestinian activists distributed leaflets on the Mount warning Jordan against the installation of the security cameras. The leaflets urged Palestinians to break the cameras if they are installed.
The Islamic Movement in Israel’s Northern Branch, headed by Sheikh Raed Salah, has also voiced strong opposition to the installment of the security cameras.
The Palestinians argue that the cameras would be used by Israel to identify and arrest Muslim worshipers and activists opposed to visits by Jews to the Temple Mount. In recent months, scores of male and female activists calling themselves murabitun and murabitat have been harassing non-Muslims touring the Temple Mount under police protection.
The Jerusalem Police has detained several activists, some of whom have been served with orders barring them from entering the Temple Mount compound for weeks and months for security reasons.
Last month, the Jordanian government announced that the security cameras would be installed “within days.” The Jordanians even dispatched a team of engineers and technicians to the site to prepare for their installation.
The announcement that the plan would be dropped came shortly after Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh met in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and discussed with him the crisis surrounding the cameras. After the meeting, Abbas voiced support for the Jordanian initiative.
However, many Palestinians said that they would prevent the Jordanians from installing the cameras. The Palestinians rejected Jordan’s assurances that the cameras would not be installed inside al-Aksa Mosque and would not be used by Israel to crack down on activists.
Ensour said that the goal of the cameras was to document “recurring assaults” by Israelis on the sanctity of the holy site. He said that the cameras would have brought legal, political and media benefits” to the Muslims.