As these lines are being written, the fate of Bill Clinton's proposal for a peace treaty in the Middle East is still unknown. Ehud Barak has basically said "yes" and Yasir Arafat has basically said "no", but that will probably change numerous times over the next day, week and month.

An agonizing debate is raging within the Jewish community on whether to yield our sovereignty over the Temple Mount—the site of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem and the most sacred place on earth to the Jewish people. (The "Western Wall" is holy to us because—and only because—it marks the outside boundary of the Temple Mount).

At the heart of the debate are two misconceptions. The first misconception is that if we decide to give away extensive portions of the very heart of the Jewish homeland, we will achieve peace with our Arab neighbors. The second misconception is that the choice is ours to make.

Several weeks ago, the Qatar-based Arabic news channel, Al-Jazeera, hosted a debate on "The Future of the Intifada and the Palestinian State." Three leading Palestinian figures participated in the program, representing the full spectrum of viewpoints of the Palestinian public today, from the moderate "peace camp" to the most uncompromising extremists. PA Minister of Information, Yasser Abd Rabbo represented the PA's official position; Deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, Musa Abu Marzuq represented the position of the militant Islamic movement; and Bilal Al-Hassan, an analyst with the London-based daily, Al-Hayat, represented the position of the Palestinian left.

The crux of the discussion was: assuming that all the Palestinians' official demands are met, including the "Right of Return" and the establishment of a Palestinian state on all of the territory conquered by Israel in 1967 (including East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount), what then? Will this state coexist peacefully with the State of Israel?

What do you think the Islamic militant and the leftist journalist said? And what do you think Yasir Arafat's official representative said?

A summary of their debate, including many direct citations, can be viewed on line at WARNING: If you believe that territorial compromise will perhaps lead to peace, and you do not want to be rudely awakened from this admittedly pleasant dream, DO NOT FOLLOW THE ABOVE LINK.

The second misconception is that Israel's government can decide to hand over the Temple Mount to the Palestinian people. The Temple Mount belongs not to Mr. Barak, not to the Jews living in Israel today, not, even, to the world Jewish community. It is the possession—indeed, the most important of all physical possessions—of the Jewish people, religious or secular, Israeli or Italian, of this generation and of all past and future generations.

Even if Mr. Barak had a majority of the Knesset behind him (he has, at last count, less than a fifth); even if he enjoyed the support of a majority of Israeli Jews (the latest polls show a very small, and daily shrinking, minority); even if every Jew alive today agreed to give away their most sacred birthright—they have not the right to do so. It is not theirs to give.

The Temple Mount was restored to our possession 33 years ago not by our choosing. We did not want to fight a war with six Arab nations in June of 1967. We were forced to occupy Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land in order to repel our enemies' intention to destroy us completely. With open miracles, the likes of which we have not experienced for thousands of years, G‑d chose to put the place He calls His home in our trust.

It is ours to revere and protect; it is not ours to give away.