We have all watched with great concern the unrest and horrific violence since the initial terror attack on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif on July 14th.

Recent developments underscore several important truths:

1)    Incitement matters.

The three terrorists who killed two Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount were inspired by the Northern Islamic Movement’s campaign call that “Al Aqsa is in danger.”  The terrorist who subsequently murdered members of the Salomon family in the settlement of Halamish was apparently driven by the same motivation. The mother of the terrorist has since been arrested for glorifying her son’s act of violence.  Moreover, President Abbas himself appointed the Tanzim militia forces to lead mass protests – a disturbing development – despite Israel’s having removed the metal detectors that had been installed and having repeatedly pledged to sustain the long-held status quo at the holy site.

The Palestinian leadership has appeared determined to fuel concerns about the Temple Mount/Haram al-HaSharif and ride the wave of unrest in search of political gains. This is a dangerous gamble that could ignite further violence. Palestinian leaders, and particularly President Abbas, must do everything in their power to reduce tensions. The United States – and all responsible observers/interlocutors – must condemn all who seek to inflame this conflict.

2)    Israel’s security matters.

Israel is completely justified in prioritizing its own citizens’ security in the wake of terror attacks. Events of the past two weeks underscore the fact that Israeli security concerns are real and legitimate; only by addressing them comprehensively will Israelis ever feel comfortable enough to take steps toward a two-state solution.

3)    Pragmatism must win out. 

The events surrounding the Temple Mount demonstrate the extent to which the extreme sensitivity of the holy site requires a level of pragmatic dialogue and solutions designed to reduce tensions rather than inflame them. Security must be viewed from 30,000 feet, taking into account day to day security concerns as well as the longer-term security picture. The status quo at the Temple Mount requires a delicate balance, one that all parties must determine how to maintain in the face of inflamed passions and extreme rhetoric. This is a time when pragmatism and common sense must reign over ideology and emotion.

4)    Leadership is needed.

It has never been more important for leaders on all sides to act responsibly. Not only is strong and sensible Israeli and Palestinian leadership required, American leadership at the highest level is needed as well.  If the U.S. is unwilling to utilize its unparalleled influence and power to its fullest extent in attempting to prevent a wider outbreak of violence, it will represent a true missed opportunity and lead to questions about what more could have been done.

Susie Gelman, Chair
David Halperin, Executive Director

Click Here for Recording of IPF’s Conversation with Avi Issacharoff