Palestinians Suspicious of Al-Aqsa Monitoring

Palestinians Suspicious  of Al-Aqsa Monitoring
Palestinians Suspicious  of Al-Aqsa Monitoring

Palestinian officials reacted warily on Sunday to what US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed as Jordan’s “excellent suggestion” to calm Israeli-Palestinian violence by putting a sensitive Beit-ul-Moqaddas holy site under constant video monitoring.

“This is a new trap,” Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Voice of Palestine radio, accusing Israel of planning to use such footage to arrest Muslim worshippers it believes are “inciting” against it, Reuters reported.

Kerry, who met Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on Saturday, said Israel gave assurances it has no intention of changing the status quo at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is holy to Muslims and Jews.

Muslim fears, amplified in social media, that Israel seeks to lift its long-standing ban on Jewish prayer at the site, have fueled a three-week-old wave of Palestinian stabbings in Beit-ul-Moqaddas, the occupied West Bank and Israeli cities. Israel has repeatedly denied the allegation.

Such surveillance, Kerry said, “could really be a game-changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity” of the al-Aqsa site, which Israel captured along with the rest of East Beit-ul-Moqaddas and the West Bank in a 1967 war.

There was no immediate comment from Abbas. Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Abbas had told Kerry “that he should look into the roots of the problem–and that is the continued occupation”.

A US official said Israeli and Jordanian technical officials would discuss who would conduct the video monitoring, but no date for consultations was announced.