The Jordanian government has decided to suspend a controversial plan to install cameras on the Temple Mount due to Palestinian protests, particularly in Jerusalem, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said yesterday.
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In a statement released by the Palestinian news agency Petra, Ensour said the installation of the cameras had the express purpose of documenting Israeli infractions and entrances to the area. According to Ensour, such documentation would have served the legal and public diplomacy of both Jordan and the Palestinians, because Israel “always denies responsibility for its infractions.” The cameras would also strengthen ties between the Mount and believers throughout the Muslim and the Arab world, he said.
However, Ensour said that since the plan to install the cameras was announced, the Palestinians have expressed concerns over its implications and objectives. Given the position that Jordan would always stand with the Palestinians and its struggle for the achievement of its rights, the Jordanian government had decided not to continue with the project, Ensour said. Jordan would continue its historic role in protection of the holy places in Jerusalem, he added.
An adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and former minister of religious affairs in the PA, Dr. Mahmoud al-Habash, told Haaretz that the Jordanian decision had been coordinated with the highest levels of the Palestinian leadership and that the main reason for freezing the project was Israel’s demand for control over the compound and the camera control room. This, the Jordanians and the Palestinians could not accept, he said. Al-Habash said that the Palestinians had objections to the whole matter, which they conveyed to the Jordanians who therefore decided to suspend the plan.
A senior Palestinian official who asked to remain anonymous told Haaretz that the understandings about the cameras did not resolve the Palestinian demands from the outset, such as the Palestinian position that the status quo from before October 2000 be restored and a ban imposed on Jews entering the area.