Israel Update

Another International Peace Conference: What Will Be the Outcome?

by Shira Sorko-Ram

Are you ready for it? Another Middle East peace conference is about to be held at Annapolis Naval Academy in the middle to late November - or there about. Nobody knows who is going to attend. The Palestinians claim that at least 36 countries will be attending. On the other hand, they are not sure they will be there - unless Israel agrees before hand to a long list of concessions that are existential issues with the State of Israel. 

As one Israeli journalist said, “If peace breaks out between the Israelis and Palestinians at the Annapolis summit, I’ll eat my hat.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

It is good to remind oneself of the core issues - issues that will be at the center of the conference - if, indeed, it takes place. No doubt, God will be looking for His people to bathe that conference in prayer.

What does Israel want to get out of this conference? That the Palestinians stop the terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

And the Palestinians? What are they demanding? There are three main issues. They are insisting on a Palestinian state that will include:

1. Full control over East Jerusalem, the Old City including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall to be under Palestinian Muslim rule.

2. Right of return of all Palestinian refugees to live within the State of Israel.

3. Israel’s return to her pre-1967 borders  (before the Six Day War), and a hand-over of all the land of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza to the Palestinians as their homeland.

Now let’s analyze the Palestinian demands one at a time.

DEMAND ONE: SOVEREIGNTY OVER JERUSALEM
Since the days of Arafat, Palestinian politicians have maintained that the Old City of Jerusalem is 100% Arab, always has been and always will be. However, since 1967, the Old City and East Jerusalem have been under the sovereignty of Israel, although Israel has given over the day-to-day administration of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Trust Wakf to maintain peace.

In advance of the hoped for Arab victory at the conference, the Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs postures that “a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict necessarily requires the establishment of a Palestinian State with its capital in all of east Jerusalem and any accord short of that will not work.” (Jerusalem Post, 8 Oct07)

However, the Israeli public will never permit handing over the Western Wall to the Muslims.

Last year, a study by a liberal Israeli think tank came up with five possible solutions for Jerusalem:

1. Israel would have sovereignty. (But the Palestinians will not agree to that.)

2. The Palestinians would have sovereignty. (The Israelis will not agree to that.)

3. The Old City be physically split into Arab/Jewish sections with international supervision to help monitor and settle disputes. (Very difficult to map out.)

4. An Israeli/Palestinian sharing of power over the Old City with international (U.N.) backing. (Impossibly difficult.)

5. Giving the sovereignty of the historical sites to an “international body,” which would have the authority to delegate powers to both sides as it wished.

The think tank concluded that number five is the preferable and the most realistic option. (Ibid., 8Oct07) In my thinking the only way that any of these solutions could be enforced would be by military power.

Who cannot help but think of Zechariah’s prophetic warning 2500 years ago: "And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth are gathered against it." Zech. 12:3.

At this juncture, the Palestinians will not agree for anyone but themselves to rule the Old City, and Israel will not give up the rights to the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter. So no agreement will be made. The only chance for some kind of forward move, says former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, is that the thorny issue of sovereignty be left untouched since there is no solution that will be agreeable to both sides. (Ibid.)

DEMAND TWO: RIGHTS OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
Palestinians claim about 750,000 Arabs fled Israel during the Independence War in 1948 (although there are well-documented books on how the U.N. fed and counted any Arab who entered the U.N-run refugee camps from anywhere, stating that it was difficult to verify where the Arabs had come from.)

Today, this number has grown to 4.5 million, and the Arab nations have refused to absorb them into their lands, even though they have the same culture, religion and language and are of the same ethnic group. Today, the Palestinians are claiming the right for all children of such refugees to move into Israel proper (not just the West Bank or Gaza.)

The right of return of these Muslims into Israel is a euphemism for flooding the nation with Muslim citizens. Through democratic means of voting in Muslim leaders - just as Hamas was democratically voted into leadership in Gaza - they would be able to eradicate Israel as a Jewish state. It is a nightmare beyond comprehension, as terrorists would overcome the state in a flash.

Determined to promote this plan, a prominent spokesman for Palestinian refugees, Salman Abu Sitta, has sent a letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who will be representing the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference, saying, “What has drawn our attention more than anything is Israel’s attempt to redefine the two-state solution. Israel now wants mutual recognition - Israel as the national homeland for the Jews and, on what’s left of the land, Palestine as the national homeland of the Palestinians.” (Ibid.)

Abu Sitta called on all Arabs to reject this “new formula” since it would mean abandoning the Arab right to all of Palestine and accepting Jewish historical and biblical claims to the land.

Says the Jerusalem Post, “This letter is revealing because it suggests that, for all the previous Palestinian talk of recognizing Israel and the previous ostensible embrace of the ‘two-state solution,’ this never meant either an acceptance of the Jewish right to sovereignty in its ancient land, or even to accepting Israel’s right not to be overwhelmed demographically by Palestinians." (Ibid.)

In short, the Palestinians’ concept of making peace is completely different than that of Israelis, Europeans and Americans, as they understand the word. What Sittu is saying is under the two-state arrangement Palestinians would have their state, and Israel would have its state under the condition that all the Palestinian refugees could come and live there. Any way you read it, it is a formula to destroy the Jewish state.

WHAT ABOUT ISRAELI REFUGEES?
But there is another incredibly important issue that is rarely heard  - and rarely brought up, even by the government of Israel. When the U.N. gave its approval for Israel to become a nation, the wrath of the Arab nations was turned against its own Jewish citizens. The New York Times on May 16, 1948 printed a banner headline, “Jews in Grave Danger in All Moslem Lands. Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia Face Wrath of Their Foes.”

On January 18, 1948, the president of the World Jewish Congress Dr. Stephen Wise appealed to U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall: “Between 800,000 and a million Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, exclusive of Palestine, are in ‘the greatest danger of destruction’ at the hands of Moslems being incited to holy war over the Partition of Palestine ... Acts of violence already perpetrated, together with those contemplated, being clearly aimed at the total destruction of the Jews, constitute genocide, which under the resolutions of the General Assembly is a crime against humanity.” (http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/facultyforum.cgi?ID=1139).

Most Jews fled with just the clothes on their back, with the Arab nations appropriating their homes, land and possessions. In all, 800,000 Jewish refugees fled to Israel from Muslim countries, and the just-born nation of about 700,000 Jews absorbed them into the tiny land of Israel. Not a word of outcry from any international body about the injustice done to these refugees.

All that to say this: Israel will never agree to the return of 4.5 million Muslims into the land of Israel. So demand number two will not be accepted in any way, shape or form.

DEMAND THREE: ISRAEL MUST RETURN TO PRE-1967 BORDERS
When the U.N. General Assembly approved the Partition Plan for creating two states in  Mandatory Palestine on November 29, 1947, exactly 60 years ago, the Jews greeted the resolution with singing and dancing. The Arabs flatly rejected it and went to war against Israel to abort her before she was born.

The surrounding Arab nations continued to war against Israel and in May 1967 President Gamal Abdel Nassar of Egypt boasted “The Arab people is firmly resolved to wipe Israel off the map and to restore the honor of the Arabs of Palestine. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel.” (http://www.sixdaywar.co.uk/)

But Israel made a pre-emptive strike and within six days found herself in control of all the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Gaza.

Journalist Yoel Marcus laments that even if moderate Palestinians are prepared to divide the country today between Muslims and Jews, it is with “the condition that they don’t pay a penny for their idiocy, their ineptitude and their crimes, not to mention the Jewish blood they have spilled. They demand that we turn the clock back, that we pay them restitution, that we agree to their right of return, and so on and so on.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

Furthermore, everyone knows what happened when Israel twice unilaterally withdrew from land (biblically belonging to Israel) - southern Lebanon and Gaza - over the last few years. Today both areas are terrorist territories ruled by Hamas and Hizbullah. From Gaza, Qassam rockets are launched daily into Israel’s southern towns. This last week, larger rockets were launched that hit deeper into Israel’s heartland.

So what can Israel do to start building up trust with her Palestinian neighbors?

The Palestinians say, “Take away the roadblocks. They make life very difficult for us.” Israel answers, “But we are catching many terrorist on their way to Israeli cities.” Yet, hoping against hope, but against the advice of the Israeli army, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has, as a good faith measure, removed several roadblocks.

The Palestinians say, “Release our sons from prison.” Israel responds, “But they are in prison for killing or planning the deaths of innocent Israeli citizens.” Yet, hoping against hope, but against the advice of the Israeli army, several hundred prisoners have been let loose in the last few days. Everyone knows they intend to continue their interrupted work. 

The Palestinians say, “Tear down the fence/wall that you have built. It is a great inconvenience for us when we need to visit Israel or other places in the West Bank.” Israel responds, “But have you noticed suicide bombings have dropped to zero since terrorists have a difficult time crossing over to Israel now?”

But have you noticed something? Have you noticed that the Palestinians make no offers to stop terrorism or make any kind of concessions? It seems that few do.

The man that the Americans look to for “the solution” is President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Fatah militants. Abbas is an extremely weak leader because his government is incorrigibly corrupt and inept - so much so that Hamas was able to win the elections in Gaza on the  promise that they would clean up the corruption. So much for that.

The American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes that because Abbas is so weak, the best thing is for Israel to make as many concessions as possible so that he can be propped up. Ironically, this is exactly the same approach that Arafat used.

“In fact,” says commentator Amir Oren, “Abbas is a continuation of Arafat in his exploitation of the power of weakness. The more Abbas is weakened, the more Condoleezza Rice is willing to give him, at Israel’s expense, so he won’t get lost entirely. (Indeed, there is fear in Israel that Hamas will take over the West Bank, just as it did Gaza).

“The result is a shelving of the staged approach at the heart of the [defunct] “road map,” and an agreement to Abbas’ pleas to ignore the milestones [the various phases of the Palestinians proving they are keeping their word] and to skip verbally to the third and last stage [when the Palestinian state will be established].”

“The road map is actually a game of truth or consequences,” says Oren. “Each side in its turn will reveal its position and will carry out moves on the ground to advance the bargaining toward its final aim…

“It would be encouraging, were it not for the dangerous gap between the great expectations and the helplessness of Abbas and of his prime minister, Salam Fayad, a good guy and a talented economist…[but] not a national leader for a crucial period.” (Haaretz, 25Sept07)

“I find it hard,” says columnist Yoel Marcus, “ to imagine Abu Mazen [Abbas] putting his foot down in Gaza, halting terror, dissolving the terrorist organizations and ending the Qassam rocket fire.” (Haaretz 9Oct07)

Then too, Prime Minister Olmert is himself in a very weak position and must pacify his right-wing parties in his coalition to stay in power. To protect his own rear guard, he has duly promised them that he will not withdraw from any West Bank land (Judea and Samaria) unless Palestinian terrorism is stopped. (Ibid.) But terror hasn’t stopped in forty years, and none of the terrorists are promising they’re going to stop now.

But let’s imagine that terrorism did stop. Can you imagine Olmert moving 250,000 Israelis out of the West Bank? Even if somehow he were to make an agreement with the Palestinians to keep the larger towns in the West Bank and exchange them for land in Galilee where there are Arab towns, he would still have to move many thousands of Israelis out of their homes spread across mountains of Judea and Samaria in small villages.

Here is the reality. The nation was traumatized when 16,000 Israelis were forced out of Gaza, and most of those who were evacuated a year and a half ago are still in temporary housing, without jobs, and don’t know if they will ever have the chance to regain their livelihood. I can’t imagine how any prime minister in Israel could pull that off in the West Bank and stay in office. Israel, they say, is a bone in their throat.

So why is Israel still so keen to create a Palestinian state? Israel’s leaders feel that the longer the world sees the Jewish state as occupiers, the more the western world will turn against her. Today there is no other democratic country that rules another people except Israel.

Do you want to know how the majority of Israeli people really feel? They wish - “if only the Arabs would stop the terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state… we would give them a state on a silver platter.” And if Israelis really thought there would be genuine peace, then the whole nation would rise up and make incredible sacrifices….

But the Israeli people have little hope that Arab Muslims will make peace with Israel no matter what she does. Israel understands that is simply “against their religion.” The Jewish people know that Muslims believe they will one day conquer the world - and that can’t be done without first disposing of Israel.

Senior Defense Ministry officials said it is likely that Israel would not be able to deliver what the Palestinians are demanding and, as a result, the summit could fail even before it begins.

According to journalist Yaakov Katz, the Europeans have also begun to acknowledge this possibility and are pressuring the U.S. to hold the summit “no matter what” so as not to appear to fail in the face of the world and particularly Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (Ibid., 5 Oct07) No doubt, the U.S. and Europe will use every persuasive tool available to them to get Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table where arms will be twisted.

Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, who is completely against the conference and the concessions Olmert says he is planning to offer, has lashed out at the government’s policy. Giving Hamas half of Jerusalem will make the rest of Jerusalem unlivable, “ Netanyahu said. “Giving up Judea and Samaria will transfer the areas controlling the coastal plain into the hands of Hamas, leading to Qassams…on Tel Aviv.”

Netanyahu claims that Israel is placing all its cards on the table, a move that only causes the Palestinians to pressure Israel to continue making more concessions. “Olmert will place Hamas men on the walls of Jerusalem,” he warned. “Jerusalem will fast become a pilgrimage site for terrorists from all over the world.” (Ibid., 8 Oct07)

There is now much talk by Palestinians and Israelis about a third intifada if the conference fails.
Hopefully, we are not in for another round of war and terror. But for sure we are not going to have a peace agreement.

Yet... all the Palestinians have to do is just stop the terror! But, say the Palestinians, “Why should we? We are winning.”

I will gather all nations…
There I will enter into judgment against them
Concerning my inheritance, my people Israel,
For they scattered my people among the nations
And divided up my land.   Joel 3:2

Yes, this is a dangerous time for the U.S. God has made his will known concerning the Land
belonging to Israel:

"Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country." Ezekiel 36:5

Prayer is a powerful weapon against the intentions of the evil one. Keep alert to the unfolding of this conference.



Ari and Shira Sorko-Ram are the founders of Maoz Israel Ministries. The mission of MAOZ is: 1) To declare the Message of Messiah and make disciples in the city of Tel Aviv and throughout Israel. 2) To raise up Israeli leaders to prepare for the coming spiritual awakening among the people of Israel. 3) To educate and inform Christians world-wide of the strategic importance of Israel and the Jewish people in God's plan for world revival. The MAOZ web site is http://www.maozisrael.org/.

 

 

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