The Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem hosted a conference on November 10, 2014, marking 20 years since the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.
Video of the first session, featuring United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro and Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Daniel Nevo, can be viewed online here. Among other topics, both ambassadors addressed the current complications in relations between Israel and Jordan and the critical nature of the status of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel William A. Brown, the Acting Chairman of the Truman Institute Board of Trustees chaired the session.
Nevo said, “This is a situation in which most of the 1.8 billion Muslims in the world don’t really care about the facts or the status quo. What they care about is that some imams say that the Jews are penetrating Al Aqsa, and that is enough to put every Israeli and Jew all around the world in jeopardy and enough to put the peace agreement in jeopardy…We have to take precautions and do our utmost in order to maintain the peace and quiet and the status quo in Haram al-Sharif [the Temple Mount], because this can explode everything.”
Describing the many fruits of peace resulting from Israeli-Jordanian cooperation, Nevo added, “Our strategic projects with Jordan like water and energy are not enough, and even our very tight security ties are not enough. We have to realize that the fragile situation in the Temple Mount is above any other thinking for the Jordanians.”
Nevo continued, “The government of Israel cannot allow extremists to take over Al Aqsa and change the status quo in which they will not allow tourists and Jews to go up on the Temple Mount. On the other hand, we have to take real steps to stop radicals from trying to provoke on the Temple Mount.”
United States Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro asserted that America’s intervention has prevented the current unrest in Israel and the region from spiraling further out of control. Video of Shapiro’s comments begins at 11 minutes 30 seconds.
According to Shapiro,”President Obama and his administration are constantly striving to identify new opportunities to nurture, sustain and expand peace in this region. Here in Israel, you’ve seen this drive up close every time Secretary Kerry arrives in the region, drawn by his deep commitment to help Israelis and Palestinians resolve their long-running conflict.”
“When leaders have stepped forward to make historic decisions, they have done so with vision, courage and trust…It was trust that brought together King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin …The untimely deaths of these two exceptional leaders were some of the harshest losses that President Clinton experienced during his presidency. President Clinton was struck by the warmth and indeed the trust that these two leaders felt toward one another…. And there is a lesson in their example: whenever leaders are ready to overcome obstacles and resolve historic conflicts, building trust is very simply a basic precondition. Trust alone is not enough, but its absence, and the absence of efforts even to establish trust, are like a self-fulfilling prophecy, and they all but ensure perpetuation of the conflict…”
Shapiro also reiterated Kerry’s position that the United States believes in the critical importance of maintaining the status quo at the holy sites. Addressing the Islamic State/ISIL, Shapiro said, “The fight against ISIL today is one of the United States’ highest priorities.” Shapiro then described the steps the United States is taking to degrade and destroy the organization.
Other participants in the conference included the Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Israel and the former head of the Mossad.