AFTER WEEKS of violence punctuated by the lynching of Israeli soldiers by a Palestinian mob and Israeli military attacks against Palestinian police stations and political headquarters, there are three lessons that can be drawn from the conflict.
First, there is no alternative but to internationalize the small but politically explosive hill called by Jews the Temple Mount and by Arabs the Haram al-Sharif.
Second, the placement of Jewish settlements deep in Arab populated areas has been shown to be a major strategic mistake.
Third, the involvement of Israeli Arabs in the fighting poses a severe question as to their future existence in the Jewish state.
The fighting that erupted after the politically motivated visit of Israeli politician and former Gen. Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount was not the first instance of conflict between Arab Muslims and Jews over the holy site.
In 1929, as Orthodox Jews sought to place a divider separating the men's and women's worship areas below the Western Wall, then-Palestinian leader Hajj Amin el-Husseini used the Jewish action to begin riots against the Jews of Palestine, claiming they were challenging Muslim control of the site.
More than 200 people, Jews and Arabs, were killed, and the Jewish community in what is now the West Bank city of Hebron was destroyed.
Similarly, in 1996 when then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly opened the Hasmonean tunnel linking the plaza in front of the Wall to the Via Dolorosa in an effort to burnish his nationalist credentials, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat precipitated riots that killed 70 people.
Both Arab leaders were able to inflame Arab passions because of the great importance of the mount to Palestinian Muslims.
In order to prevent the area from being a future flash point, it must come under international control. That would preclude Israeli or Palestinian politicians from using it to make political points, preventing the two sides from starting what essentially would be a religious war.
Further, it would be in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians for the Jewish settlements deep inside Palestinian population centers in the West Bank to be removed. Most of them were established under Likud Prime Ministers Menahem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir deep within Palestinian populated areas for political and religious reasons.
From the Palestinian point of view, the settlements are constant irritations and the settlements and their access roads to them prevent the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state.
From the Israeli perspective, whatever the Messianic impulse to establish the settlements to anchor the Jewish claim to the territory where the biblical patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived, they have proven to be major security liabilities.
The final lesson from the recent fighting is that the place of Israeli Arabs in Israeli society can no longer be ignored, as it has been for so long by successive Israeli leaders.
Comprising 18 percent of the Israeli population, and living primarily in the north of Israel, the Israeli Arabs have been looked upon by many Israelis as a suspect part of the population, a feeling that was reinforced by their participation in the anti-Israeli rioting by West Bank and Gaza Arabs.
While they can vote and serve in the Israeli Parliament, they are clearly second-class citizens economically and socially.
As Israel moved toward a comprehensive peace with its Arab neighbors, the interests of the Israeli Arabs and their place in Israeli society were largely ignored. If the Israeli Arabs are not to become enemies of Israel -- a development that would strengthen those on the right fringe of Israeli politics who have been calling for their expulsion -- Prime Minister Ehud Barak needs to devote far more attention than he has in his first 18 months in office to integrate them into Israeli society.
Mr. Barak's proposed "civic revolution," while aimed chiefly at weakening the political power of the Orthodox Jews, provides one way of doing this through the establishment of a written constitution.
If moves are not made immediately to deal with Israeli Arab concerns, even if Israel and the Palestinians reach a peace settlement -- a far more difficult prospect than it was several weeks ago -- then Israel risks turning into another Northern Ireland.
Robert O. Freedman is Peggy Meyerhoff Pearlstone professor of political science at Baltimore Hebrew University.