John Kerry’s Camera Caper
It was in Geneva this past Sunday, as we learn from Jordan’s official news agency, that the country’s foreign minister (and deputy prime minister and minister of expatriate affairs), Nasser Judeh, discussed the issue of “Palestine” with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Judeh underlined the importance of relaunching serious and effective talks within a set timeframe. Such talks, he added, must lead to the two-state solution, entailing the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Not a word about the fiasco of the Temple Mount cameras.
Last fall, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was called to Geneva and Amman to find a way to calm things down over the Temple Mount. Of course, all that was needed was for King Abdallah II to inform his hundreds of employees there to halt the incitement; stop Muslim ruffians from entering the sanctuary; prevent them from preparing firebombs and worse; keep them from building barricades; and put an end to the nasty and uncivilized shouting by the women, nicknamed the Wicked Witches of the Waqf, at Jews visiting the site.
The King and Judeh himself could point out that Articles 9 and 11 of the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty obliges Jordan to act in a manner that respects religious freedom. Most important, they could announce that, indeed, no change has been made in the status quo according to which Israel’s government, against its own law, does not permit Jewish prayer in an open and public fashion to be uttered within the Temple Mount precincts, even outside Muslim buildings.
Unfortunately, Jordan itself continues to act provocatively, and even President Barack Obama lends him backing. As he declared last February:
His Majesty has been a critical component of reducing some of the immediate sources of tension around the Temple Mount and visits there…His Majesty has continued to be a voice of reason and moderation and tolerance for all the parties concerned in this issue. And we very much appreciate his partnership in the process.
On April 25, Jordanian State Minister for Media Affairs Mohammad al-Mumini described as “provocative” all visits by “Israeli settlers and soldiers” to the al-Aqsa Mosque [no Jew enters the Mosque but only encircle the esplanade – YM] and added that this presumed behavior “represent[s] a violation of international law and conventions.”
And, as reported on April 27, Jordan hyped up the incitement when it “called on Israel to prevent the entry of Jewish visitors to the Al-Aqsa compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount…Mohammad al-Momani said such visits were a flagrant breach of international law and understandings reached between the various sides. Al-Momani called on Israel’s cabinet to stop taking ‘provocative steps’ and to let Palestinians pursue their freedom of worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
But what happened two weeks ago that Mr. Kerry seemingly has ignored?
Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour announced that
the main objective behind Jordan’s decision to install surveillance cameras at Haram Al Sharif compound and not inside the mosque, was to monitor and document the continued Israeli violations [but there are no violations! – YM] against Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, which extends over an area of 144 dunums…At the beginning, Israel tried to hinder the project through various means [hinder? Israel wanted the operation to be a joint one – YM], but we were able to overcome that
Israel wished to show all violations, all incitement and all violence, especially on the part of the Waqf, which connives with terrorists. Israel wanted Jordan to share in the responsibility for overseeing its Waqf.
Unfortunately, Jordan couldn’t manage to overcome a problem:
However, we were surprised since our intention to carry out the project, by the response of some of our Palestinian brethren to the project, adding that they voiced their concern and cast doubt on its aims and objectives. As we respect the points of views of our brethren in Palestine in general and in Jerusalem in particular, and because we always affirm our full support to the Palestinians and their aspirations at all times, we found that this project is a point of contentious and therefore, we decided to halt its implementation.
Well, moderate Jordan disappoints the United States and does not live up to its commitments.
But do we hear from John Kerry about his failed camera caper? Or is he outside the frame of serious diplomacy?
Yisrael Medad is a roving editor-at-large for Israel Affairs at The Algemeiner.