Middle East Update

Will it be Peace or War?

While running for the presidency, Candidate Obama promised that he would not wait till the last year of his presidency to work for peace in the Middle East. He said he would start in the first year.


You can mark this as one promise that has been kept. One of Obama’s first appointments was former Senator George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East. Obama pointed out that Mitchell had achieved an agreement in Northern Ireland, a conflict that some had deemed unsolvable. By April of 2009, Middle Eastern leaders were making the trip to Washington—one after the other.


George Bush was the first president to openly call for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel on land that the Bible declares to be part of Israel’s Promised Land. Obama became the first to demand that Israel stop all construction in the “occupied territories” including East Jerusalem.


This came as a shock to many Israelis, especially since many assumed that the famous Bush Letter of 2004, given to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, would be honored by subsequent American governments. That letter stated that the US understood Israel would not be able to withdraw from all areas that had been occupied in the 1967 War.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas quickly seized upon the American policy shift by declaring that Palestinians would not enter peace talks with Israel while building was taking place in the settlements. Palestinians had negotiated repeatedly without this precondition, but now the change in America’s position offered the opportunity of a great gain for the Arab position before ever sitting down at the negotiating table.


After strong US pressure, in November of 2009 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared a ten-month freeze on building in the West Bank settlements. This was given to allow the peace talks to proceed. Palestinians responded to this unprecedented offer by dragging their feet about entering negotiations, using first one excuse, then another.


As the September 26, 2010 expiration of the ten-month building freeze approached, peace talks had still not begun. In a last-minute whirlwind of diplomatic activity, the talks finally were started a mere one week before building in the settlements was scheduled to resume.


When the talks were kicked off amid great worldwide fanfare, reports immediately began pouring in of great progress and great hope. All sides stated they believed a comprehensive agreement could be reached in one year (by September 2011).


The pressure was on Netanyahu to extend Israel’s building freeze in order to keep the talks going. Abbas never missed an opportunity to declare that, if building were resumed, Palestinians would immediately pull out of the talks. Netanyahu replied that Abbas had wasted the entire ten-month freeze by Israel, but now demanded that Israel extend it. Netanyahu knew that the entire maneuver was nothing more than an effort to create “facts on the ground” concerning the ultimate surrendering of the entire West Bank to the Palestinians. Furthermore, factions in Netanyahu’s governing coalition declared they would pull out of the coalition if the freeze were extended. This would bring Netanyahu’s government crashing down, requiring new elections in Israel. He refused to extend the freeze.


The pressure on Israel to reconsider and extend the freeze came from the United Nations, the European Union, and more importantly from the United States. Still, Netanyahu resisted.


During the second week of November, Netanyahu traveled to the United States to speak at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. While in the US, a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was arranged.


On November 11th, Clinton and Netanyahu met for seven long hours. Within the next few days, Netanyahu announced that the United States had offered an incentive package in exchange for a 90-day moratorium on building in the settlements. The incentives were to include a gift to Israel of 20 F-35 stealth fighters worth $3 billion, a promise to use the US veto at the United Nations to protect Israel against international recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within 1967 borders, and a promise that the US would not demand any additional freeze once the ninety days had expired.


It was understood that talks during the ninety days would focus on final borders between Israel and the proposed Palestinian state. It was reasoned that once borders were agreed, the troublesome construction issue would be put to rest, since Israelis could then build freely in the areas that the agreement concluded they would control.


This appeared to be a deal too good to refuse. However, members of Netanyahu’s cabinet were becoming increasingly wary of the Obama administration. They demanded the incentives be given to Israel in writing before they voted to accept. As we go to press, the US appears to be waffling concerning the contents of the incentive package, but claims it will present the Israeli government with the terms in writing within a few days.

What if talks resume?

The Obama administration is contending that the borders can be settled and then the remaining issues can be negotiated by September’s deadline. If this could be achieved, the second most difficult of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be resolved. Of course, the most difficult issue, the final status of the city of Jerusalem would remain.


Could this piecemeal approach to an agreement work? Why or why not?


From the Israeli perspective, settling the border issue without settling the status of Jerusalem might be ideal. Israel would receive international accolades for surrendering territory to Palestinians while postponing the inevitable clash over Jerusalem. Israel has said that Jerusalem is her eternal capital and must never be surrendered or divided.


Palestinians would gain huge amounts of territory without firing a shot. They would also gain international recognition for a Palestinian state on land specifically promised by God to be part of the Jewish Promised Land. Jews agreeing to surrender their biblical Promised Land would invalidate the argument that Israel’s right to exist in the Middle East comes by divine mandate. This would also secede land to Palestinians that would place their rockets within one mile of Jewish population centers.


It is generally accepted that any Israeli-Palestinian agreement would have to be policed by the international community. Palestinians assert on almost a daily basis that Israel remaining in the West Bank is being done in violation of international law. The transfer of control in the “occupied territories” would mark recognition of the ever-encroaching power of “global governance.” This would certainly fit into the UN’s plan for the coming New World Order. Furthermore, the UN has held, since 1947, that Jerusalem should be an international city under UN control. Israel bowing to the UN concerning the biblical lands of Judea-Samaria would set a precedent for also bowing to the UN concerning the status of Jerusalem.

Where are events headed?

As we look ahead, we have the advantage of seeing the future through the eyes of Bible prophecy. The Bible foretells that part of Jerusalem will be “trodden down of the Gentiles” for 42 months prior to the second coming of Christ (Revelation 11:1-2). It also states that the Temple Mount will be placed under a sharing arrangement between Jew and Gentile. The Jews will build their Third Temple there without destroying the Muslim holy places. The temple will be under Jewish sovereignty. The Muslims will continue to worship at the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The Temple Mount will become somewhat of a mecca of religious Interfaithism. The Jews like to say it will become a “house of prayer for all nations.” Many will believe that the most intractable of the world’s conflicts has been resolved. But the peace will not hold.


The world governmental system that is presently being set up under the guise of globalization will never be satisfied with partial conformity. Ultimately, it will demand total submission by Israel to the planned New World Order. The UN will finally make a demand of Israel that she simply refuses to submit to. This will result in a decision by the UN Security Council to invade the “pariah state” called Israel.


The invasion is prophesied in Zechariah 14:2-4.


“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”


When the world community launches its invasion of Israel, it will appear that the end of the Jewish state has come. Israel will fight valiantly. However, the superior firepower of the world government armies will slowly but surely prevail against the valiant but overmatched forces of Israel.


Israel’s last stand will be made at Jerusalem, the world government’s ultimate prize. When the day comes for Israel’s final capitulation, it will appear that the dream of a Jewish homeland has come to an end. As all hope seems to be lost, the prophecy states,


“Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zechariah 14:3).


The Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, will appear to save the Jewish people from destruction by the Antichrist and his world government.


The prophecy goes on to say,


“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4).


Those remaining of the Jewish people will know that their Messiah has come to save them. They will also know that their Messiah is, in fact, Jesus when they see the nail scars in His hands and in His feet.


Zechariah 13:6 says they will ask, “What are these wounds?” Jesus will reply, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”


Jesus will then destroy the Antichrist and the False Prophet. He will put down the failed human governments and will establish His government. We will then crown Him King of kings and Lord of lords.


Zechariah concludes by saying,


“And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).