Israel has an interest in placing surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount to debunk the claim it is changing the status quo there, to show the real source of the provocations and stop them in real time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu spoke about the steps US Secretary of State John Kerry announced over the weekend in an effort to restore calm. These steps included an announcement by Netanyahu that Israel will continue to enforce its “longstanding policy” at the site, whereby only Muslims can worship there, while non-Muslims can visit.
Netanyahu told ministers that he made clear to Kerry that there will be no change in the status quo, and that the site will continue to be administered as it has been.
“The visiting arrangements for Jews on the Temple Mount are preserved, and there will be no change,” he said, adding that the same is true of prayer arrangements for Muslims.
Netanyahu said he was encouraged by the “positive response” of the Jordanians to his clarifications the night before on the matter. “I hope this will help calm down the situation, at least regarding the Temple Mount,” he said.
On Sunday Jordan’s King Abdullah welcomed Netanyahu’s assurances regarding the preservation of the status quo.
Jordan’s official Petra News Agency quoted Abdullah as saying at a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka that, ”I followed up on the Israeli prime minister’s remarks last night and his assurances to commit to the status quo arrangements, and not to change it. This commitment is a welcome matter, pending its implementation on the ground.”
Abdullah, according to Petra, said Netanyahu’s statement would help end violence and ease tensions. The king also said he hoped it would lead to the quick launch of efforts needed to address core issues through negotiations.
The initial Palestinian response, however, was less sanguine, with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki telling the Voice of Palestine that Netanyahu could not be trusted when saying the status quo will be preserved, and that the cameras were a “trap” Israel would use to arrest Palestinians for incitement.
An Israeli government official responded by saying the deal was between Israel and the Jordanians.
“If the Palestinians have a problem with it, might that be because it promises transparency and points a finger at those instigating provocations?” the official said. “Might they in fact be worried that the truth will be exposed, and it will show that their incitement about Israel’s intentions is without any factual base?” In another matter, Netanyahu said that Israel would work to revoke the citizenship of the 23-year-old Israeli Arab man who paraglided into Syria Saturday from the Golan Heights, in order to join a Syrian rebel group.
“We are fighting against Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations all the time,” Netanyahu said. “Those who join the ranks of the enemy to fight Israel will not have Israeli citizenship.”
The cabinet, meanwhile, declared Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which operate in Lebanon and Syria, as terrorist organizations.
This means anyone assisting or funding any of the organizations will have violated the law.
Materials prepared for the ministers explained that these organizations operate primarily abroad, and the decision to outlaw them was recommended by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) as part of the international efforts to fight terrorism and financing of terrorist organizations.