Plan to Install Cameras on Har HaBayis to Go Forward

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

Despite a Palestinian rejection of the plan, Israeli and Jordanian officials said Tuesday that new surveillance cameras should be installed within days at Har HaBayis, with the goal of streaming the footage live on the internet for maximum transparency.

The idea to install the cameras emerged during separate talks late last week between Secretary of State John Kerry and the three sides with a stake at the site — Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Kerry was looking for a way to lower tensions, but it’s not clear if video cameras will suffice.

Under a decades-old arrangement, Jews are allowed to visit, but not to pray there. Most poskim over the years have upheld a halachic ban on Jews entering the area.

Under the proposal brokered by Kerry, video cameras are to be installed inside the 37-acre walled platform of al-Aksa mosque to help defuse tensions.

The details are to be worked out between officials from the site’s administrator — the Islamic Trust, or Waqf — and Israeli authorities, said a senior Jordanian government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with briefing regulations.

He said he expects the cameras to be installed in “days, not weeks.”

He said both Muslim clerics and Israeli officials will for now monitor the images, but that “the ultimate goal is for the footage to be seen on the internet, by everyone.”

Israeli officials confirmed the plan, and in a statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said it hopes to start the process “as soon as possible.”

Israel has welcomed the plan, saying the cameras will prove it is doing nothing wrong and expose violent activities by Palestinian protesters.

The Palestinians formally rejected the scheme on Monday, claiming that Israel will use the cameras to arrest people.

At a news conference, Abdel Azeem Salhab, chairman of the Waqf council, accused Israel of trying to “Judaize” the mosque.

“Israel wants cameras for its own purposes and this will not happen,” he said.