Muhammad al-Mumani, Jordanian Minister of State for Information, announced over the weekend that the long-awaited security cameras intended to monitor and quell the violence on the Temple Mount will be installed in the very near future, perhaps even in the next few days.
The agreement to install the cameras was reached last October after months of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli Police on the Temple Mount. The police claimed that the Palestinians were threatening and attacking Jewish visitors to the mount, and the Morabiton groups, funded by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, were constantly harassing and threatening non-Muslim visitors. The police also discovered pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, and rocks prepared for throwing, inside the Dome of the Rock. It is also hoped that the cameras will refute the Muslim claims that Jews are entering the buildings or violating the status quo.
Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick told Breaking Israel News “We welcome [the cameras] which will ideally bring absolute transparency to the Temple Mount and expose the real source of the violence [there].”
The cameras were supposed to be installed months ago, but disagreements between Israel and Jordan forced a delay in the project. The two countries disputed over which areas would be monitored by the security cameras. Israel wanted full-coverage, with the cameras set up to show the outside compound and the inside of the Aqsa Mosque (the silver dome) and the Dome of the Rock (the gold dome). This extensive coverage would allow for monitoring and detecting Palestinian violations of bringing weapons into the buildings.
Jordan, however, wanted the cameras to monitor only the outside areas in order to report on violations by Israelis security forces. Al-Mumani announced on Jordanian television on Friday that the cameras will be installed according to Jordan’s plan and would not be used to help Israel arrest Palestinians. “Their purpose is to document Israeli trespasses,” al-Mumani told the media. They will testify to “violations and incursions to Islamic holy sites and allow 1.7 billion Muslims to follow online what’s happening at the Aqsa Mosque compound.”
Brokered by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, the cameras were first suggested by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, the official custodian of the holy site. Kerry praised the idea, saying, “This will provide comprehensive visibility and transparency and that could really be a game changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity of the holy site.”
Kerry met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, who initially agreed to the 24-hour security cameras. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also agreed to the arrangement in a separate meeting.
Shortly after Netanyahu’s assent, the PA rejected the arrangement. PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and other PA officials claimed the security cameras would be used to, “arrest Palestinians under the pretext of incitement”.
It was also conjectured that Palestinian objections were based on a power-struggle between the Islamic Movement and Jordan over control of the holy site. The cameras will be monitored by Jordan, thereby reinforcing their role as guardian and undermining the PA claim to Jerusalem and all the holy sites it contains.
It is still unclear whether the PA has agreed to the cameras, since they can still be used to monitor Palestinian violations outside of the buildings.