Israel and Jordan strike deal on Jerusalem holy site, Kerry says

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Israel and Jordan have agreed on steps to curb a recent wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis and announced there will be constant video monitoring around a sacred site in Jerusalem's Old City. Reuters correspondent Arshad Mohammed joins William Brangham via Skype from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to discuss.

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  • WILLIAM BRANGHAM, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:

    I am joined by Arshad Mohammed, he's a correspondent for Reuters, and he's been traveling with Secretary Kerry.

    He joins me now via Skype from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    Arshad Mohammed, thanks for being here. Give me a little sense of what is it exactly that Israel and Jordan have agreed to today?

  • ARSHAD MOHAMMED, REUTERS:

    Well, according to Secretary Kerry, there are basically four broad steps that he sketched out.

    The first is that there would be 24/7 video surveillance of the entire area. The idea there is that transparency will let everybody see what's happening and make it harder to misrepresent what's happening and whether the status quo is changing.

    Among the other things are that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will enforce the existing prohibition on non-Muslims, on Jews, Christians or other religions from praying at the site.

    Third, that he would restate that Israel has no intent of dividing the site.

    And fourth, that Israel and the Jordanian religious trust or Waqf, that administers the site, would significantly increase their cooperation, all as a way of trying to reduce tensions and prevent violence.

  • WILLIAM BRANGHAM:

    Given that there has been so much animosity over this particular site and more broadly between the Israelis and the Palestinians, how likely do you think that this kind of an agreement is going to have any lasting effect?

  • ARSHAD MOHAMMED:

    You know, it's hard to say. I think a lot of it depends both on the actions of officials and then public sentiment.

    If there is seen to be good will on the side of the Israelis and the side of Jordanians and the Palestinian residents of the area, you know, then it's possible that the violence will come down.

    You know, the other question is whether what other factors that have given rise to the tension and the violence and, you know, one factor that is often cited by Palestinians is the feeling that Israel is allowing more Jews to visit the site and is sort of tacitly accepting that they pray there, whether the Palestinians feel like that's actually stopping or abating or being reversed.

    You know, I'm not in the predictions business but it does seem to me that both sides have some measure of interest in reducing the violence if they can.

  • WILLIAM BRANGHAM:

    All right, Arshad Mohammed from Reuters, thank you very much for being here.

  • ARSHAD MOHAMMED:

    Thanks for your time.

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