Palestinians Reject Kerry Plan for Cameras at Jerusalem Shrine

  • Video surveillance enables Israeli `security control': Ashrawi
  • Two Palestinians shot dead during West Bank stabbing attacks

Palestinian officials rejected a U.S.-backed plan to install surveillance cameras at a Jerusalem shrine that has become a flashpoint of Muslim-Jewish tensions, spurring a wave of Arab attacks on Israelis.

The proposal to place cameras at the holy site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary or Al-Aqsa mosque compound, was announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after meeting Saturday in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. While Kerry hailed it as a possible “game-changer,” Palestinians were suspicious.

“The placement of cameras in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is not only a violation of the status quo; it also enables Israel to exercise security control and provides it with more enhanced means of surveillance,” Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement Monday. “Israel, as it has repeatedly done, will use it against the Palestinians and not against extremist Jewish settlers or Israeli officials.”

Arab fears that Israel is planning to change longstanding arrangements governing worship at the shrine have fueled a surge in Palestinian stabbing, shooting and stoning attacks that have led to the death of nine Israelis and at least 52 Palestinians, most of them attackers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his government has no plans to change the status quo at the site, and contends Palestinian and Islamist elements are making spurious claims to incite unrest.

On Monday, two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces after separate knifing attacks in the West Bank. In one incident, an Israeli soldier was severely wounded after being stabbed in the neck.

Understandings in place since Israel seized the shrine in the 1967 Middle East war allow it to be administered by the Waqf, an Islamic religious body, in coordination with the Palestinians and Jordan. The Waqf said in a statement that Israeli security forces blocked its own effort on Monday to place video cameras in one area of the site. “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,” according to the statement.

Netanyahu’s office said Israel has already consented to start placing cameras as soon as possible.

“Final arrangements for the manner and location of the cameras on the Temple Mount, which was agreed upon between Israel, Jordan and the United States, were intended to be coordinated by the professional elements,” it said in a statement. “The cameras will be installed according to the arrangements to be determined between the parties.”

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