[Bethlehem] – Jordan has begun preparations to install 55 cameras at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, after months of contentious arguments over their installation appeared to be resolved.
Jordanian Minister of Endowment Hayil Daoud told the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper Saturday that the ministry had reviewed all technical procedures before preparing the infrastructure for the installation.
The cameras are expected to be mounted on walls around the compound in order to document violations and raids carried out by the Israeli authorities, Daoud said.
The minister said the cameras would help Jordan politically, diplomatically and legally by providing material documentation of Israeli violations that could potentially be presented in court.
The cameras — which will roll 24 hours a day seven days a week — are expected to be fully controlled and monitored by the ministry, Daoud said, adding that the project was being implemented with the cooperation of Palestinian leadership.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late last month met with Jordan’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in Amman, where he said he supported any decisions Jordan made with regard to Al-Aqsa and the installation of cameras in particular.
Surveillance cameras in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have been the subject of tense discussions between Israel and Jordan, the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem, for months.
In October, Israel and Jordan, under mediation by the United States, agreed to install surveillance cameras across the mosque compound in a bid to ease tensions that began across the occupied Palestinian territories around that time.
Tensions were triggered in part by increased visitation to the holy site by far-right extremists accompanied by armed Israeli forces. Such visits often coincide with prevention of Palestinian access to the site.
Israeli police prevented the Islamic Endowment that runs the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound from installing surveillance cameras around the holy site later that month, claiming that an official agreement concerning their installation had not yet been reached.
The installation of the cameras has raised major concern among a number of Palestinians that the Israeli authorities — who will also have access to the surveillance footage — will use the cameras against Palestinians.
In October, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called the plan “a new trap” to identify and detain worshippers at Al-Aqsa Israel believes to be “inciting” against it.
Palestinian Knesset member Basel Ghattas of the Arab Joint List also opposed the decision, saying it was made with the intention of securing Israeli control over the holy site.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound lies under Israeli military occupation, and while control of the mosque officially falls under Jordanian guardianship, Palestinians fear that increased presence of Israeli security forces around the site marks a potential move by Israel to renege on past agreements for the holy site.
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