Israel's Right To The Land -- Direct Talks with the Palestinians
Commentary by Sarah Ann Haves
A second round of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians begin on Tuesday, September 14. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly talked about reaching an “historic compromise” with his “partner for peace”, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. While Netanyahu has kept much of the content of direct talks private, he has publicly insisted that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people. He is also demanding that there be an end to the conflict with the signing of a peace accord. Abbas has said that the Palestinians will not agree to any concessions on their part towards Israel. After 17 years at attempted peace-making, most Israelis and Palestinians are skeptical and weary.
Israelis are tired of conceding to the Palestinians with no reciprocation. Israel’s right-wing government ministers are watching closely for signals from Netanyahu, as to whether he is already giving in to Palestinian demands at the beginning of the direct talks, without receiving something in return. In Netanyahu’s recent statements, he has referred to the disputed territory as the West Bank rather than Judea and Samaria, even though, in the past, he has always been careful to refer to the territory by its biblical name. For the first time, ever, Netanyahu has publicly referred to Palestinian “sovereignty” over a future state of the Palestinian people. These are worrying signs for those who do not want to see Israel enter into an agreement that would divide the land and threaten Israel’s security.
Israel’s Biblical Roots
For pro-Israel supporters, what should be of most concern is that the Palestinian narrative has become the acceptable “norm” of U.S. and international interlocutors. They are basing the Palestinian right to the land on historical roots. At the same time, the Israeli government is trying to defend Israel’s right to the land based on historical roots. But, the real root of the issue at hand is Israel’s biblical right to the land, based on promises made by the God of Israel in His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The insistence, on the part of the Palestinians, that the Jewish people are occupying Arab land, and ultimately this land must be conquered and ruled by Islam, has not been fully challenged in a public discourse by pro-Israel leaders.
The Jewish State’s failure to present the biblical ties of the Jewish people to the land, as a public demonstration of Jewish sovereignty, is an unfortunate shortcoming of Israel’s present and past governments. This is causing Israel to lose the battle in media and diplomatic circles, as well as at the Middle East bargaining table. It has resulted in greater empathy expressed towards the cause of the Palestinian people by much of the global community.
Meanwhile, Israel has every right to present a biblical case for not dividing the land, through private direct talks, and in statements to the general public. Israeli leaders should also be presenting their case for Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, based on a multitude of promises mentioned in the Tanach (the Old Testament). In so doing, Israel will spell out a sure foundation for its claim to the land it currently occupies, and for its control over its capital city.
An example of a biblical case for Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed territory begins with a clear demonstration of God’s eternal and everlasting land promises expressed in the Abrahamic Covenant, and mentioned in Genesis 15:18. This scripture points out the exact area that Israel is to inherit. It not only encompasses the current disputed territory, but much more. It provides details that this covenant was established through Abraham and his descendants, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates. This covenant was unconditional and eternal. In Genesis 17:19, the Bible directly refers to this covenant that Abraham’s son Isaac inherits and his descendants after him. The Promised Land covenant is referred to, again, in Genesis 28:3-4, when the Lord is speaking to Jacob, who later becomes Israel (Genesis 32:28). Ishmael and his descendants do not inherit this covenant.
Genesis 17:20-21 explains, just as clearly, the Lord’s blessing upon Ishmael. Ishmael is told that he will be fruitful and multiply exceedingly; that he will produce 12 princes and be a great nation. Today, Arab states in the Middle East region are prospering, confirming this blessing to Ishmael’s seed. But, most of the Arab peoples are not following the God of Abraham and his descendants. Instead, a majority of them are Moslems; worshipping a pagan moon god; and, many have aligned themselves with the violent and radical streams of Islam.
Judea and Samaria – the Mountains of Israel
The mountains of Israel are the heartland of the nation, and this is the land promised to the children of Israel, mentioned in Ezekiel 36:8-11. Jewish people lived in this area, called Judea and Samaria, when Israel was attacked by six Arab Moslem nations in 1948. Jewish communities in the area were destroyed by Arab Forces during Israel’s War of Independence at that time.
In 1967, during the Six Day War, when Israel was attacked, again, by surrounding Arab nations, Israeli forces re-captured Judea and Samaria from the Jordanians. The Jewish communities there were re-built and, today, a few have developed from small settlement towns into flourishing cities such as Ariel and Maale Adumim. Ancient biblical sites are also thriving: Mount Gaash, which supports Ariel; Kiryat Arba, located near Hebron (David’s city); Shiloh; and Bet El (Bethel).
But, the narrative in media reporting today, is that this territory is supposed to be given over to the Palestinians. It is the Palestinians who are expected to establish their own state on biblical land which belongs to the Jewish people. Why aren’t pro-Israel pundits highlighting and emphasizing this contradiction?
The Israeli government, and many of the Israeli people, have now accepted this Palestinian narrative, which has also become ingrained in the minds of politicians and diplomats in the international community. The UN, EU, and Quartet (UN, EU, U.S., and Russia) have established resolutions to help the Palestinians gain international acceptance for their so-called “historical” rights to this land, without Israel’s “biblical and historical” rights being considered.
The only international sympathy towards the Jewish State has been attention given to Israel’s security needs. The nations are pressing Israel into accepting international troops on its borders to accommodate those needs. Israel has refused this offer, stating the inept ability of already established UNIFIL troops in Lebanon that are supposed to be protecting south Lebanese villages from an infiltration of Hezbollah missiles, weapons, and arms depots. UNIFIL has failed to adequately enforce UN Security Resolution 1701, which is undermining Israel’s security on its border with Lebanon.
The Development of a Confederacy
It appears that the United States is making great efforts at forming a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, which would include moderate Arab states. U.S. President Barack Obama, along with his current peace envoy George Mitchell, and American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all support the division of the Jewish State. They are helping to form a U.S. led coalition, which resembles a confederacy.
Attention given to the Arab Peace Initiative, by the international community, confirms that many nations support Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders, which means releasing all control over Judea and Samaria to Palestinian forces. This would give Israel limited ability to defend its borders. This confederacy that is being established points to Psalm Chapter 83.
Furthermore, it seems that the Palestinians are working towards unilaterally declaring their own state. The Palestinians are already looking to the UN, EU, and the Quartet to internationally recognize their future state. Behind the scenes, they are trying to broker a deal for a UN Security Council resolution which would be introduced sometime in 2011 or 2012.
Today, the nations are trying to de-legitimize Israel. They are condemning the Jewish State, accusing Israel of war crimes. International leaders enter into lies, slander, and falsehoods, to undermine Israel, and threaten its existence. And, the confederacy has developed to such a point that certain nations are blindly rejecting God’s eternal covenant with the Jewish people.
A quote from Jordan’s King Abdullah, in August 2010, confirms this:
“What we are trying to achieve is Israelis and Palestinians moving the process forward, so the Arab Peace Initiative can be activated, and so that Israel’s future is not just to the Jordan River, Lebanon or Sinai. The bigger picture for the Israeli people is Israelis’ integration into the Arab Islamic world; that is the prize.”
That may be the prize for Arab nations, but it is not the prize for Israel based on the biblical scriptures.
Meanwhile, Jordan, which is already sitting on Israeli territory, has not been willing to absorb the Palestinians, or take any responsibility for the establishment of a Palestinian state. As a sign of God’s displeasure, Jordan may soon be confronted by the same forces that are causing instability in Iraq. In the future, Jordan could be trampled down by radical Islamic groups that are interested in using Jordan as a launching pad against Israel. This would threaten Israel’s eastern border. (See Ezekiel 36:5-7).
This is one reason that Israel has insisted, in negotiations with the Palestinians, that the IDF (Israel’s Defense Forces) must have a presence on Israel’s eastern border to protect it from terrorist infiltration into the Jordan Valley. So far, Abbas has refused to consider this Israeli request towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The Futility of Unilateral Actions
The Israelis have already made some mistakes when it comes to stewarding God’s land. Past Israeli governments have engaged in two controversial unilateral withdrawals from land. In the year 2000, Israeli forces unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon, abandoning the South Lebanese Army which had been faithful to Israel at the time.
Today, the Iranian-backed radical Shiite group, Hezbollah, has filled the vacuum, and is Israel’s most formidable foe on the Jewish State’s northern border.
In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew IDF forces from the Gaza Strip, uprooting 6-7,000 Israelis from their homes. Today, the Iranian-backed radical Islamic group, Hamas, has filled the vacuum on Israel’s southern border, and has become another enemy of the Jewish State.
Both terror groups refuse to recognize Israel’s existence or the right for Israel to control its capital city, Jerusalem.
Jerusalem government leaders know that if Israel unilaterally withdraws from Judea and Samaria, without a final peace accord established, radical Palestinian forces will fill the vacuum; Hamas will take over the area; and, missiles will be launched against Israel’s major cities. Even if Israel signs a formal accord with the Palestinians, this is a serious threat to Israel’s existence. There’s also a great possibility of civil war developing in Israel if 75-100,000 Israelis are forced to leave their homes in Judea and Samaria and move elsewhere within the state. As a result, there’s the possibility of, not only a future war between Israel and the Palestinians, but an inevitable conflict between Israelis, themselves. The division of the land could result in a great divide between the Israeli people.
Fruitless Efforts at Peacemaking
Meanwhile, Israel has tried peacemaking several times: The Camp David Accords, the Wye River Accords, the Oslo Peace agreement, Oslo II, the Road Map, The Annapolis Process, Proximity Talks, and now Direct Talks with the Palestinians. But, as long as the Jewish people continue to offer concessions on the land that they are commanded to inherit; doing so in defiance of God’s promised eternal and everlasting covenant with them; the more the likelihood that any future peace deal will not bring them peace at all.
The sooner that Israeli leaders realize this; and stop blindly offering biblical land for peace -- the sooner they will receive the peace which God, Himself has intended to establish with them forever.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting from Israel on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues affecting the nation.
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