Jordan Revises Surveillance Plan for Har HaBayis

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -

The interiors of two mosques on Har HaBayis will be exempt from monitoring by security cameras, Jordan’s king said in an apparent attempt to allay Palestinian concerns about his plan to install the cameras at the site.

Jordan, the custodian of the site, last month proposed the camera monitoring in efforts to defuse tensions. Israel welcomed the plan but the idea was met by Palestinian criticism.

Although Israel and Jordan initially said cameras would be installed within days, the plan now appears delayed, with Jordan’s King Abdullah II saying they wouldn’t be in place for some six weeks.

“To be very clear, there will be no cameras inside the mosque,” Abdullah said in remarks broadcast Wednesday evening.

The plan to introduce cameras at the site was suggested by Jordan and announced by Secretary of State John Kerry during a diplomatic push last month to quell the violence.

Israel praised the idea, saying it would help counter the Palestinian claims that it is trying to change the status quo. But the Palestinians claimed Israel would use the cameras to spy on and arrest people.

There was no immediate Israeli response to Abdullah’s remarks.

Beyond the video surveillance, Kerry last month also announced other understandings, including Israel fully respecting Jordan’s “special role” as custodian of the site, upholding the ban on non-Muslim prayer and its commitment not to divide the site and to reject any attempt to suggest otherwise.

Abdullah said the cameras would be brought from Jordan and that the plan was to build a control room in the compound under control of the Waqf that would provide a feed to Jordan. It was not clear what Israel’s role in the surveillance would be.