Israel and Jordan agree on Al-Aqsa Mosque surveillance
Steps proposed to calm tensions at holy site in occupied East Jerusalem as two Palestinians die from Israeli gunfire.
The United States says that Israel and Jordan have agreed on steps, including 24-hour video surveillance, to try and help end weeks of violence over a Jerusalem site holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians.
Protests against Israel’s ongoing occupation broke out last month amid growing unrest triggered by Israeli incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound – the third holiest site for Muslims – and have taken place across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and in Palestinian communities in Israel.
Speaking in Amman after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah on Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel had embraced “an excellent suggestion” by the king for round-the-clock monitoring of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
In 2013, Jordan and Abbas signed an agreement granting King Abdullah “custodianship of Jerusalem holy sites”, however, neither Jordan nor the Palestinian Authority has de facto control over the sites.
According to a 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, Israel “respects the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem”.
But the treaty stops short of giving Jordan any legal, political or religious authority over Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem.
Kerry said Israel had also given assurances it had no intention of changing the status quo at the compound in occupied East Jerusalem, home to Al-Aqsa Mosque and another Islamic icon, the Dome of the Rock.
Jews perform religious rites at the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known as the Temple Mount in Judaism.
In a detailed statement, Netanyahu said Israel recognised “the importance of the Temple Mount to peoples of all three monotheistic faiths … and reaffirms its commitment to upholding unchanged the status quo of the Temple Mount, in word and in practise”.
He echoed Kerry’s statement that Israel would enforce its long-standing policy under which Muslims may pray at the site, but Jews, Christians and members of other faiths may only visit, but not pray, and that Israel had no intention of dividing up the compound.
Moves to monitor the compound came as a Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank on Saturday.
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The 16-year-old, Mohammed Zakarna, was fatally shot on Saturday while allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli security guard at the Jalameh checkpoint in the Jenin area of the West Bank.
Another Palestinian man died on Saturday from wounds sustained by an Israeli bullet a week earlier during clashes in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Khalil Abu Abeed, 25, died as a result of being shot during clashes with Israeli troops in the Khan Younis area of the Gaza border last week, according to Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the enclave.
Since October 1, Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 56 Palestinians, including unarmed protesters, bystanders and alleged attackers.
Eight Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in stabbing or shooting incidents.
Additional reporting by Patrick Strickland
Follow Patrick Strickland on Twitter: @P_Strickland_