Jordan: Israel and Jordan have agreed to take steps aimed at quelling a wave of violence, starting with the installation of security cameras on the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Saturday.

Speaking after meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King ­Abdullah II, Kerry told reporters that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to King Abdullah’s suggestion to install the 24-hour cameras at the holy site, which has been a focus of long-standing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

“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.”

However, it is unclear exactly how the proposed addition of more cameras would lessen tensions or change the situation in any meaningful way. Israeli authorities already operate more than 300 security cameras in the flash-point area, offering 24-hour monitoring capability.

On Sunday morning, Netanyahu issued a statement reiterating Israel’s commitment to maintain the status quo at the compound and not to “divide” it. He said Israel respects Jordan’s role as custodian of the holy site and will enforce the longstanding policy allowing non-Muslims to visit there but not to pray. He made no specific mention of the camera proposal that Kerry announced.

Israeli media reported Saturday that Israel was pleased with the proposal, because it would prove the government has done nothing to change the status quo.

Kerry characterized the security cameras as the “first step,” designed to calm a combustible situation before Israelis and Palestinians can begin to address other issues.

Jordan’s foreign minister Nasser Judeh said that tensions will quiet only when Israelis and Palestinians begin to tackle the source of the conflict.

“The root cause is the need to have a Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel,” he said.

Technicians from Israel and Jordan, which is the custodian of the mosque complex under its 1994 peace treaty with Israel, will meet in the coming days to discuss security on the site, including the camera installation, Kerry said.

The cameras were the first practical sign that diplomats had made some headway in trying to quell a month of almost daily violence in Israel and the West Bank, fueled in part by rumors that Israel was trying to encroach on a cherished Muslim holy site that is also revered by Jews. Netanyahu has labeled the rumors “lies.”

In talks Thursday with the Israeli leader and Saturday with the Palestinian and Jordanian leaders, Kerry sought to encourage more moderate rhetoric and greater “clarity” on what the status quo means to each side, diminishing the chance of misunderstandings.

Courtesy Washington Post