Rockets on Ashkelon, riots on the Temple Mount and elsewhere in East Jerusalem, violent clashes between Israeli forces and hundreds of young Palestinians and Jewish extremists, protests by Israeli Arab Citizens, young and old – all are evidence of the explosive potential in Jerusalem that threatens stability and security in the city and beyond.

The messages of concern from the Arab world – including countries that have recently normalized relations with Israel – and from the wider world demonstrate the centrality of Jerusalem and the sensitivity to everything that takes place there, and required prudent policy before undermining further Israel’s relations – political, economic, and even security – in the region and beyond.

CIS, with its more than 300 members, all veterans of the security agencies at the highest levels, is convinced that Israel has the capability and power necessary to deal with any security challenge. However, recent events reaffirm two old truisms: not every problem has a military solution; wise political conduct can prevent a security escalation.

Against this backdrop, CIS calls on the government to handle the unfolding events with the sensitivity and wisdom befitting a complex city sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians around the world.

CIS welcomes the Israeli High Court of Justice’s wise decision to postpone its deliberation on the Sheikh Jarrah issue, so as not to be exploited by extremists at this high-risk moment. In the same spirit, CIS calls on the Israeli government to act responsibly: To exercise sovereignty by prudent governance, not by tolerance to provocations. To restrain inciters – whoever they may be – and to immediately distance them from friction zones and sensitive locations.

Proper preparation of the Israeli police was indeed essential, but, as was also revealed this morning, it does not have the power to prevent friction, flare-ups, and the exploitation of circumstances to undermine security in the city and beyond. Responsible national leadership should guide the security forces in this spirit, thereby calming spirits and containing the event before it escalates further and claims additional victims.

The series of recent failures in a variety of areas experienced by the state requires a thorough examination of assumptions and patterns of action. As is becoming clear during these hours, this is especially true regarding national security.

The morning after the event, the Israeli government should draw lessons regarding three illusions revealed in full force: 

  • The illusion of relative quiet in Jerusalem, that underpins ignorance as to the explosive relations between Palestinians and Israelis in the city as well as the regional and international sensitivity to what is happening there. A fundamental change in attentiveness and policies is called for regarding the needs of all religions and populations in the city and uncompromising adherence to the Status Quo in its holy sites.
  • The illusion of decoupling the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and from East Jerusalem– as if events in one do not affect the others. Repeatedly, the residents of the ‘Gaza Envelop’ and the entire south have paid the price for this illusion. The formulation of an alternative strategy is called for. One that enlists a potent regional and international coalition for an integrated process of solidifying the Gaza ceasefire, launching an extensive rehabilitation and development plan for its population, and facilitating a gradual return of the Palestinian Authority to its management.
  • The illusion of stability between Israel and the Palestinians throughout the territories. Israel must formulate a comprehensive strategy that meets Israel’s security needs while creating a political horizon (even if its implementation is not readily available), improving the quality of life for all who live in Israeli-controlled territories, reducing friction between Israelis and Palestinians, and thus contributing to stability on the ground and the prospects of future separation between the two peoples.

CIS has formulated practical plans for most of the issues whose explosiveness has been exposed. CIS stands ready to provide the experience and expertise of its members, all past senior IDF, Shin Bet (GSS), Mossad and Israel Police officials to the government, defense establishment and to other national agencies in support of the vital effort to formulate an alternative policy on each of these security issues.