A senior Palestinian Arab official declared on Wednesday that the Arabs will not allow “the Israeli occupation”, as he put it, to intervene in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, even for the purpose of installing security cameras as agreed upon with Secretary of State John Kerry.
Speaking with Hamas’s Palestine newspaper, the Director of the Department of Islamic Endowments in Jerusalem, Azzam al-Ahmed, stressed that the department receives instructions only from Jordan.
"The Al-Aqsa Mosque, whose area is 144 dunams, is under the supervision of the Director of Islamic Endowments, which is part of the Ministry of Religious Endowments in Amman and does not belong to any other party," stressed Ahmed.
Commenting on the prevention of installing security cameras at the Temple Mount compound, Ahmed said, "We installed the cameras according to a directive from Amman. Our position is clear and the position of the Jordanian king and the Jordanian government is clear and that is that the Al-Aqsa Mosque, its management and renovation, are the authority of the Ministry of Religious Endowments and the Department of Religious Endowments in Jerusalem, and not of anyone else, and has no connection to Israel."
"We will in no way allow Israel to intervene on the issue of the Al-Aqsa Mosque or on any other issue,” stressed Ahmed, who continued, "The Al-Aqsa Mosque is sacred, and any harm to it would endanger everyone, and that is a clear red line."
The plan to install security cameras on the compound was announced on Saturday by Kerry, who said that Israel had agreed to the 24-hour surveillance as a step to calm tensions over the Temple Mount.
Kerry added that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had agreed to "an excellent suggestion by Jordan’s King Abdullah to provide 24-hour video coverage of all sites" in the compound.
Under the compromise brokered by Kerry, video cameras are to be installed inside the walled platform to help defuse tensions.
But, unlike Ahmed’s comments, a Jordanian official told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the details are to be worked out between officials from the Waqf, which is the site's administrator, and Israeli authorities.
Netanyahu has insisted that the cameras "are in Israel's interests," despite intensive criticism both over the decision to continue a ban on Jewish prayer at the holy site and suspicion that Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) would exploit the cameras for their own interests.