"I don’t see the riots in Jerusalem spreading beyond the holy sites in the Old City," Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said Monday night.
"It is my estimation that the current unrest is a provocation aimed at disrupting the Jewish holidays and create the appearance of resistance," said Mofaz, who served as IDF chief of staff during the al-Aqsa Intifada, which erupted after then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount on September 28, 2000.
The current riots erupted amid rumors that a group of Jewish extremists plans to visit the site, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Mofaza said the current situation is not similar to the 2000 intifada. "I don't see any signs of a comprehensive uprising. The situation in the West Bank is relatively under control," he said.
The MK accused the head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch of instigating the riots. "Sheikh Raed Salah's provocations are meant as a display of force, and to show that the movement is against the State of Israel," he said.
Former Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy, who was appointed several months after the 2000 October Riots and who headed the force through the capital's worst bout of terror, told Ynet the current situation is different: "This is nothing like the intifada. These are sporadic events that will die down. The public has a very short memory – not a year goes by when there isn't some sort of clash over the holidays. This is much ado about nothing.
"This is a case of some teenagers throwing stones. The majority of Jerusalemites want nothing but peace and quiet and to see the Old City swamped with tourists. The people getting in the way of that, those who provoke tensions are some of the leaders in the Islamic Movement, who start rumors about the prime minister supposedly gearing to inaugurate a new tunnel. Another intifada? That's nothing but a few radical Palestinians' fantasy, that's all."
The Jerusalem Police, he added, "is a seasoned force. The district commander did the right thing by restricting the entry of potentially destructive youths to Temple Mount, especially following the irresponsible statements by a faction of the Islamic Movement. It's best of public and religious leaders – on both sides – avoid statements which do nothing by exacerbate the atmosphere."
Daniel Edelson contributed to the report