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Tracking Violence In Jerusalem: Here's What's On The Table


We're also tracking violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Numerous Palestinians have killed Israelis on the streets, and the response of Israel's security forces has left many Palestinians dead. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian and Jordanian leaders over the weekend. And Jordan's King Abdullah made a proposal, a proposal that Israel's leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, says he likes. NPR's Emily Harris joins us now from Jerusalem. Emily, what's the idea?

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: The idea, Steve, is to put 24-hour surveillance cameras in the holy site in the center of Jerusalem's Old City that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, the Temple Mount or the Haram al-Sharif, Noble Sanctuary. The idea is that this would be video material that both sides would have access to. And one of the reasons that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports this idea is because he says this will help establish who's really starting problems in the compound.

INSKEEP: This is an area that's already fairly secure. You've taken me there. I remember gates. I remember some barbed wire. But you're saying they want to make it more like London - right? - where there are just cameras everywhere.

HARRIS: Well, there's cameras already everywhere throughout the Old City. What Israeli officials are saying is there's no sharing of video information, and they may not right now be able to see into certain areas of the compound - like inside the mosques and so forth. There's been a less enthusiastic response to this idea from Palestinian officials. There have been a couple Palestinian officials out there over the weekend saying that they worry that this would be a way for Israelis to track people - Palestinians - and then lead to their arrests. But it's obviously an idea that's been mooted with Secretary Kerry, with the king of Jordan, who has special authority here on this site, with Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the - the president of the Palestinian Authority. So what happens next is a technical team gets together, and we'll see where it goes. It is a political idea, and it's possible that there will be some road blocks to actually getting it implemented.

INSKEEP: Let me ask, though, Emily Harris, this is all about the Temple Mount, the Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, as you say. But hasn't the problem moved a little bit beyond that?

HARRIS: Well, yes and no. This is a site that in the Muslim world is a very emotionally laden site. Also, among Palestinians it goes beyond that to a national symbol for their national aspirations of having an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. And when you are out there talking to people on the street who have been - who have - who go to confrontations, to clashes with Israeli soldiers at checkpoints, who haven't carried out attacks themselves but maybe have watched the videos and sympathize with these stabbing attacks against Israelis, then you understand that it's not only about the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Haram al-Sharif. But it is - it does start there. There's a lot of other things that are - Palestinians say are making them angry in this particular flare-up in violence.

INSKEEP: So what has the violence been like the last couple of days, and what does it feel like on the streets of Jerusalem?

HARRIS: In the last few days, the stabbing attacks have been happening more in the West Bank, which is separate from most of Jerusalem by a separation barrier that Israel built, citing security reasons, starting about 10 years ago. But still in Jerusalem there is a palpable sense of fear among both Palestinians and Israelis and a sense of mistrust and uncertainty whether these kind of attacks will go away or spring up again. And of course, the clashes between Israeli security, military or the police and Palestinians almost always take place around checkpoints in the West Bank. But there are also neighborhoods in Jerusalem where they normally take place. Those have been tamped down quite a bit in the last week.

INSKEEP: Emily, thanks very much.

HARRIS: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Emily Harris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.
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