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US, Jordan propose 24-hour surveillance of al-Aqsa to end Jerusalem violence

Israeli and Jordanian officials are to meet to work out details of 24-hour video monitoring of the al-Aqsa, which is holy to Jews and Muslims. The plan is aimed at ending weeks of violence.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced Saturday that Israel and Jordan had agreed on steps, including round-the-clock video monitoring of the holy al-Aqsa site, to bring an end to weeks of unrest.

Palestinians have accused Israel of encroaching on the holy site, known as al-Aqsa to Muslims and Temple Mount to Jews. They allege that Israel is trying to change long-standing agreements under which Jews were allowed to visit but not pray at the shrine and the violence was the result of nearly 50 years of occupation and a lack of political progress towards Palestinian statehood. Israel captured the holy site from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war.

"All the violence and the incitement to violence must stop. Leaders must lead," Kerry said after meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan and with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan on Saturday.

Later, Israel said it welcomed "increased coordination" with the Jordanians. Since signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, Jordan has served as a mediator and maintained custodial rights over Muslim holy sites through an organization called the Waqf.

Uphold status quo

In a statement on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated Israel's commitment to upholding the status quo "in word and in practice" and saying it has "no intention" of dividing the compound.

"Israel believes that those who visit or worship on the Temple Mount must be allowed to do so in peace, free from violence, from threats, from intimidation and from provocations," the statement said. "We welcome increased coordination between the Israeli authorities and the Jordanian Waqf, including to ensure that visitors and worshippers demonstrate restraint and respect for the sanctity of the area."

Kerry said the leaders "expressed their strong commitment to ending the violence and restoring the calm as soon as possible."

On Saturday, Israeli forces shot dead a knife-wielding Palestinian. The Israeli military said he ran toward a crossing between Israel and the West Bank and tried to stab security personnel.

jm/bk (Reuters, AP)

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