Israel has decided to remove metal detectors it had placed at the entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and replace them with more advanced surveillance cameras.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to remove the metal detector gates after a meeting lasting several hours convening for a second time on Monday.
The metal detectors, installed nearly two weeks ago after an attack at the site, have been a source of increased tension in the wider region, including widespread Palestinian protests across Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as diplomatic tension between Israel and Jordan.
The decision to remove the metal detectors, made by the country’s security cabinet, was based on the recommendation of Israel’s security agencies, the statement said. Instead of metal detectors, Israel plans to install unspecified advanced technologies and “smart inspection.”
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority said the Israeli government bears full responsibility for attacking al-Aqsa and changing the religious landmarks of Jerusalem.
“We affirm the historical and religious right to the al-Aqsa Mosque and warn that the Israeli occupation attempts to evade the benefits of peace,” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said.
The announcement of the removal came only hours after the Prime Minister’s Office said staff of the Israeli embassy in Jordan, including a security guard involved in a deadly weekend incident, returned to Israel on Monday night.
The move came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan spoke on the phone Monday night in an effort to defuse a diplomatic row in the aftermath of Sunday’s attack on the Israeli embassy in Amman.