Peace in the Middle East—an unachievable goal? According to journalists and news broadcasters, Israel just needs to give the Palestinians their own country. So, what’s the hang-up? Will there ever be a Palestinian State in the Middle East?
Let’s take a quick look at the negotiations of the past decades to see what’s already been tried and failed. Perhaps, the answer resides in tweaking the offer?
The Twentieth Century
Until World War I, the Ottoman Empire ruled the region of the Middle East. When the British gained control over much of the territory, change began. The Arabs proved rebellious subjects to the Crown. They refused to stop their deadly attacks against the Jews, including the new British leadership in their daily violence.
For seventeen years, the unrelenting conflict disturbed all aspects of life. At last, the Brits established the Peel Commission to find a solution.
In 1934, the Commission decided the Arabs and Jews each needed their own land. This marked the first official discussion of dividing the land to provide a two-state solution. The terms of this first peace agreement highly favored the Arab people.
Offer from the Peel Commission:
- Arabs control 80% of disputed land, and
- Jews control the remaining 20%.
Result? Jews accepted the small portion in exchange for peace. Arabs rejected the offer, resuming the violence.
Britain asked the United Nations (UN) to come up with a solution for the region’s tension and continuing Arab violence.
On November 7, 1947, the UN announced their plan: divide the territory, so the Arabs and Jews each had their own state.
- Arabs had Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and
- Jews had the remaining small portion of land, including West Jerusalem.
Result? The Jews agreed to their portion of land in exchange for peace. Not only did the Arabs reject the UN’s two-state solution, five Arab countries launched all-out war against the Jews. There were no Palestinian people at that time, but the armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq gave it all they had. Their only goal? Destroy the Jewish people.
With God’s intervention, the Israeli army prevailed against unbelievable odds. Did the Jews take all of the land won by defeating the vast Arab armies? No. The new State of Israel was established on the land designated for a Jewish State by the UN.
Though propaganda mills say otherwise, Israel did not occupy the land offered by the UN to form an Arab State. The historical truth is Egypt occupied Gaza, and Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Egypt led Syria and Jordan into battle with Israel in another attempt to destroy the Jewish State.
Again, God intervened. In just six days, Israel had not only defeated the powerful armies of these three Arab countries but gained control over Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Israeli Disputes: Half wanted to return Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan in exchange for peace. The other half wanted to embrace the two-state solution, giving the UN-designated territories to the Arabs that had started calling themselves Palestinians. The hope was that they would develop the land for their people and live in peace with Israel.
Neither option interested the defeated Arabs. The Arab League met in Sudan months after the Six-Day War and announced their infamous Three Nos:
- No peace with Israel.
- No recognition of Israel.
- No negotiation with Israel.
Regardless of reports to the contrary, this declaration remains in effect. History bears witness to the truth—the Palestinians only talk about two States but hinder every effort to achieve an agreement.
The Twenty-First Century
President Bill Clinton hosted a meeting between Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat at Camp David. The purpose was to hammer out the details of a two-state solution for peace in the Middle East.
Offer: Israel suggested the PLO could have all of Gaza and 94% of the West Bank, including having East Jerusalem for the Palestinian State’s capital. The Jewish State would be the small area remaining, including West Jerusalem.
Result? Arafat sat in on fourteen days of meetings and refused every detail of a two-state plan.
The PLO led the brutal uprising that followed the failed meetings. The Jewish people lost more than 1000 Israeli lives, with thousands more maimed through violent suicide attacks–on buses, at wedding celebrations and restaurants.
Between 2000 and 2008, without any agreements from the Palestinians, Israel quietly withdrew from Gaza. Desperate for peace, the Israelis hoped turning Gaza over to the Palestinian leaders would motivate them to develop the land for their people.
Instead, they launched thousands of rockets into Israel. Over the following years, construction supplies served to shore up the miles and miles of underground tunnels dug to invade Jewish citizens working the agricultural areas.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed another plan to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Offer: Basically, the same offer as in 2000 but even more land tossed into the deal.
Result? Abbas, on behalf of the Palestinian people, refused.
The Palestinians reject the accusation that they’re holding to the Arab League’s three No’s, but their actions prove the contrary. Why do they refuse to sit at the table with Israel’s Prime Minister to negotiate a solution to bring peace?
Perhaps, their real goal remains a single Palestinian State? Every map of the region found in their children’s school books illustrates only one country in the territory—the State of Palestine. Israel isn’t anywhere on the maps.
President Donald Trump said he would not act as a mediator between the Palestinians and Israelis until the two leaders both come to the same table. The Palestinians have made it clear this will never happen, but Abbas is scheduled to come to the White House in the near future, so we’ll know soon if something’s about to change.
In light of the past records and current truths, the political pundits of the world should seriously consider the suggestion of David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force of Prager University:
“Each time Israel has agreed to a Palestinian state, the Palestinians have rejected the offer, often violently.
So, if you’re interested in peace in the Middle East, maybe the answer is not to pressure Israel to make yet another offer of a state to the Palestinians. Maybe the answer is to pressure the Palestinians to finally accept the existence of a Jewish State.”
So goes the secular discussion of a Palestinian State in the Middle East, but does the Bible shed any light on the issue? The chunk of ground in the center of the dispute has been known as the Promised Land for thousands of years. There’s agreement that Yahweh, the God of the Jews, gave them that land. Has any provision been made for a Palestinian State in the midst of the Promised Land?
Biblical Counterpoint to Present-Day Call for Two-State Solution
During the Thirteenth Century B.C., God delivered the Jewish people from their bondage in Egypt and back into the land He’d given Abraham. Seven people groups occupied the land prior to the return of the Israelites. The time had come for the squatters to leave or face the consequences.
The Seventh Chapter of Deuteronomy outlines exactly what the Almighty God expected the Jews to do when they crossed into the Promised Land. The chapter begins:
“When the Lord, your God, brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord, your God, has delivered them over to you, and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally” (verses 1 and 2).
God specified the limits of the Promised Land, but the matter of dispossessing and reclaiming the territory proved a very long-term project. Five hundred years had passed by the time King Solomon’s forces came close to possessing the land stretching to the assigned borders, but they didn’t quite make it.
The Nation of Israel has yet to claim the full measure of territory God allotted to them. Shouldn’t God just let someone else have it? Unlike us, God is patient. The Bible records the permanence of God’s promise to the Jews in Amos 9:15:
“I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.”
To God, never means never, period. In fact, God reconfirmed His promise fifty-five times in the Bible.
There are those who believe God no longer has a covenant with the Jewish people, yet the Bible points to the covenant between the Jews and God as being eternal twelve times within its pages. Eternal means eternal, period.
The most recent claims of the Arabs calling themselves Palestinians is that they’re descendants of the Canaanites and should, therefore, be entitled to possess the land of their ancestors. Guess they missed the part of the above verse that commands the Jews to remove the Canaanites from that land?
Or perhaps, if the Palestinians will agree to a Jewish State, the Jews should let the Promised Land be divided to make peace with the former-Canaanites?
God’s word lets us know He’s not interested in dividing the Promised Land. We read in Joel 3: 2:
“There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.”
In 1988, I attended the International Christian Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. One of the speakers, a Chief Rabbi, reflected on his views at the close of the Six-Day War. He said that, while he regretted the sorrow the death and injuries brought to their families, he could see that winning the wars may be the only way the Jews would be able to acquire the land Almighty God had given to them.
The Rabbi acknowledged his ancestors had disobeyed Yahweh in inter-marrying instead of destroying the many enemy-ites Yahweh had commanded them to remove from the Land. The Rabbi shrugged his shoulders as he told us the modern Jews only wanted peace, at any cost. So, if the people were ever to possess the Promised Land, the Arabs/Palestinians would have to attack them, declare war until the Jews beat them and gained a bit more of the land God had given them.
What are the borders of the land God gave to the Jews? Not surprisingly, the territory is the same as Islamic State has outlined as their Caliphate.
Southern border: The Red Sea and the coast road of the Sinai Peninsula just south of Eilat.
Western border: The Coastline of the Mediterranean Sea
Northern border: From Lebanon through Syria to the Euphrates River.
Eastern border: From the Euphrates River in the north, extending south, past Damascus, along the slopes on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee–the Golan Heights. The Jordan River comes out of the mountains of Lebanon and runs south to the Sea of Galilee. At the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River flows out and along the Jordan Valley to enter the Dead Sea. The eastern side of the Jordan River, south of the Golan Heights, represents the eastern boundary.
The territory includes about 60,000 square miles, 144 miles from the north to the south, 40 miles across the southern border, and 20 miles along the northern border.
If like me, you need help to picture the size of the area, perhaps an illustration will help. Keep in mind, though, the current parcel of land encompassing the Palestinian and Israeli territories is a bit smaller than the above-mentioned Promised Land. The time it takes a jet to cross the length of Israel is eleven minutes, and the width takes the jet a mere three minutes.
By contrast, there are twenty-two Arab states with a total land mass 640 times greater than that God promised the Jews. Do they really need a chunk out of the Promised Land?
Will there ever be a Palestinian State in the Middle East? Unless the Palestinians recognize the Jewish State and are willing to sit down together to discuss appropriate borders, the answer to the secular argument is simply, Never.
If one believes the Bible is the Word of God, the Biblical answer is, Never.
Don’t take my word for it. Read the Bible and learn more. At this time in our history, we hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Only one has text that never deviates from the truth.