Palestinians Scorn Understandings Over Temple Mount: 'Cameras in Al-Aqsa Won't End Violence'

Netanyahu reportedly agrees to steps showing Israel's commitment to status quo, but Palestinians say unrest is about more than Al-Aqsa Mosque; 'We took to the streets to say we’re fed up with the occupation,' Palestinian activist says.

Andrew Shiva

Some Palestinian leaders voiced disdain on Saturday about the U.S.-brokered understandings between Israel and Jordan over the Temple Mount, doubting these will have a long-lasting effect in restoring calm to the region. 

Earlier on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to install cameras on the Temple Mount in order to show that Israel's isn't making any changes to the status quo, per Jordan's proposal.

"This will provide comprehensive visibility and transparency,” Kerry said. “It could be a game-changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity of the holy sites."

But Palestinians, including Fatah leaders, said that while it was important to defuse tensions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, that issue was not the only factor fueling the Palestinians’ anger in recent weeks. They cited the occupation, settler aggression and the absence of a path toward ending the conflict, which would give young Palestinians hope. 

“If Mr. Kerry thinks that broadcasting from cameras inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound will lead to a lull in the violence, he’s badly mistaken,” said a Palestinian anti-settlement activist from the Ramallah area. “We took to the streets to say we’re fed up with the occupation.”

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a physician who heads the Palestinian National Initiative, struck a similar note in a conversation with Haaretz.

“Any lull at this time will be temporary, because for the Palestinian people a long-term lull demands measures that are much more significant, starting with suspending construction in the settlements, ending settler aggression and a plan for ending the occupation,” said Barghouti, also a member of the PLO Executive Committee.

According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Kerry Saturday that young Palestinians were “angry, hopeless and seeking independence and freedom.” Abbas did not pledge to take action against them.

Also, Abbas and PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat reportedly gave Kerry documents and videos attesting to attacks by settlers on Palestinians, on top of the incidents in which young Palestinians have been shot by Israeli forces.

Erekat told Ma’an that Abbas was calling for international protection against “terrorist” acts by Israeli settlers, and Israel’s “extrajudicial executions” and punitive demolitions of homes belonging to suspected attackers’ families.