Jordan: No cameras inside mosques at Jerusalem site
Two mosques at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site will be exempt from monitoring by security cameras, Jordan’s king said Thursday, in an apparent attempt to allay Palestinian concerns about his plan to install the cameras inside the hilltop compound.
Also Thursday, Palestinians gave a hero’s welcome to Mohammed Allan, who had staged an unprecedented 66-day hunger strike over the summer, in protest of his one-year detention by Israel without charge. He finished his jail term and was released on Wednesday.
The compound has been at the epicenter of current Israeli-Palestinian violence. Jordan, the custodian of the site, last month proposed security 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.
The plan to introduce cameras at the site was suggested by Jordan and announced by US 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 said Israel would use the cameras to spy on and arrest people. Israeli police and Palestinian protesters often clash on the site, with the protesters usually barricading themselves inside the mosque and sometimes throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, Allan, the freed detainee, was welcomed home by friends and family in the West Bank village of Einabus. He was released late Wednesday after completing his second six-month term. Israel’s Supreme Court suspended Allan’s detention in August as his health had deteriorated. But once his condition had improved, he was rearrested and relaunched his hunger strike.