>> Should Christians visit Israel to bless Israelis and Palestinians in the aftermath of the recent Gaza war?
(Los Angeles, California) — Should Christians support the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state? This has long been an important question. But it’s particularly relevant this week.
On Thursday, the Palestinian leadership will ask the United Nations General Assembly to vote on a resolution that will give them enhanced international legal status, not quite a full sovereign state, but very close. The resolution is expected to pass decisively. France, Russia, China and most nations of the world have indicated they will vote “yes” on the resolution. That’s right, the world is poised to say yes to a sovereign Palestinian state despite the fact that Palestinians in Gaza just committed more than 3,000 war crimes last week (each rocket was fired from behind innocent Arab civilians, and fired at innocent Jewish civilians, making each rocket fired a double war crime); despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank doesn’t have any control over the situation in Gaza; despite the fact that the PA has admantly refused to sit down and engage in face to face peace talks with the Israelis for years; and despite the fact that the PA is nearly bankrupt and unable to pay its workers). [Note: On November 29, 1947, the U.N. voted for the famous “Partition Plan.”]
The U.S. and Germany are among a handful of nations that have said they oppose this resolution. The reason they oppose this resolution is not because they oppose the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. To the contrary, I’m not aware of any government in the world that is opposed to dividing the Land of Israel and creating a sovereign Palestinian state. The reason the U.S., Germany and others oppose this resolution is because it is essentially a unilateral move by the Palestinian leadership to achieve a state without directly negotiating with the State of Israel. The Oslo Accords — which were signed back in the ’90s by Israel and the Palestinians — forbade unilateral moves by either side. Thus, the Palestinian leadership is now trying to break the one major diplomatic agreement it has ever signed with Israel. That doesn’t bode well for future peace talks.
In the end, the creation of any new internationally-recognized sovereign state in the world requires an affirmative vote by the U.N. Security Council, not the General Assembly. The U.S. continues to vow to veto any resolution of this kind that might come before the Security Council unless it is the result of a comprehensive peace treaty agreed to in advance by the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership.
This brings us back to the question of whether Christians should support the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. I’ve written on this before. Let me walk you through my understanding of Scripture in this regard:
- The Bible doesn’t speak precisely to the issue of whether a sovereign Palestinian state will be created or not.
- That said, I tend to believe the geopolitical and prophetic evidence suggests there will probably be a Palestinian state in the not-too-distant future.
- International pressure on Israel to cut a deal, divide the Land, and create a Palestinian state is overwhelming, relentless, and intensifying.
- Currently, the Palestinian leadership refuses to negotiate directly with Israel. Rather, they hope to unilaterally declare a state by getting the vast majority of countries at the U.N. to vote for the creation of state at the General Assembly session in New York.
- The Palestinians have more than enough votes to pass such a U.N. resolution in the General Assembly (though, again, the U.S. has suggested it would veto a unilateral declaration if it came to the Security Council).
- The most intense international pressure for a Palestinian state is coming from Western Europe, which has grown increasingly anti-Israel and increasingly anti-Semitic.
- A majority of Israelis have become exhausted with the Arab-Israeli conflict and now would support a Palestinian state under certain conditions.
- Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — the leader of the center-right Likud Party (which has historically opposed creating a Palestinian state) — has offered to divide the Land and help create a Palestinian state, so long as it is demilitarized and doesn’t divide Jerusalem.
- However, the Bible strongly warns the nations not to divide the Land of Israel and states that all nations who do so will face God’s judgment. The Lord said to the Hebrew Prophet Joel, “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.” (Joel 3:2)
- Despite this warning, the nations have repeatedly divided the Land of Israel over the centuries.
- Bible prophecy suggests the Land will be divided again in the last days. The Hebrew prophet wrote in Daniel 9:26-27 that in the last days “the prince who is to come” (the Antichrist) “will make a firm covenant” (a peace treaty) “with the many” (neighbors of Israel) for seven years, but will then break that treaty after three and a half years. This strongly — though not definitively — suggests a state will be created or reaffirmed through this treaty.
- Eventually, after breaking the peace treaty, the Antichrist will invade and conquer Israel and rule the world with great evil and tyranny from the “Beautiful Land.” The Prophet Daniel wrote, “He will also enter the Beautiful Land, and many countries will fall….and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain [Jerusalem]” before being destroyed and judged by the Lord Himself. (Daniel 11:41, 44, 45)
- On the basis of these and other Scriptures, I suspect a sovereign Palestinian state will be created, though it would likely be temporary in duration. The outlines of a geopolitical deal are already done. Israeli and Palestinian officials have been negotiating on and off for decades.
- So we should expect European pressure to continue to build and eventually a European leader will take the lead and get a deal done — to many, it will look like a wonderful peace deal, at first, but the Bible makes clear it will turn disastrous for Israel, and the Palestinians, and the world.
- In light of the Scriptures, I do not support the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state (one that can build an army, air force and navy; one that can make treaties with enemies of Israel; one that can threaten the very existence of the State of Israel) because I believe this would violate the Biblical admonition not to divide to the Land.
- Indeed, Christians must clearly and firmly warn the nations not to divide the Land in disobedience to the Word of God because it will lead to divine and terrible judgment.
- That said, I do support Palestinian autonomy. That is, I fully support the right of Palestinians to run their daily lives and their local governments, including administration of local law enforcement, education, utilities, communications, transportation, taxes, etc.
- I believe Israel should always work on doing a better job of treating Arabs with love, compassion and justice, according to the Scriptures.
- What’s more, I believe the Church should do a much better job loving and caring for Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs, and sharing with them the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ that they might find forgiveness for their sins, peace in their hearts, hope for their future, and salvation for their souls (John 3:16). We should be encouraging the local Palestinian church, strengthening them and helping them be bold and courageous in living out the Word of God and preaching the Word in season and out of season.
- The Scriptures are crystal clear: the Lord loves the Palestinian people as much as He loves the Jewish people, and He told Moses to tell the children of Israel to care for non-Jews in the Land and bless them and treat them honestly and fairly and with justice and compassion. (See Deuteronomy 14:29, 23:7, 24:14-15, 24:19-22, 26:12-13)
- Jesus modeled love for the Jewish people (Matthew 15:32, Mark 6:34, Mark 8:1-3, Luke 10:3-9, Luke 23:34), and their neighbors (Matthew 19:19, Luke 10:27-37), and their enemies (Matthew 5:43-44) and told His followers to do the same.
- Let us continue to pray for the Prince of Peace — Jesus the Messiah — to draw more and more people in the epicenter to Himself. This is the only true and lasting hope for peace.
- New e-book – Israel At War: Inside The Nuclear Showdown With Iran — now available on Kindle, Nook, other formats (includes sneak preview of material from forthcoming Damascus Countdown novel)
- Please prayerfully consider helping The Joshua Fund care for the poor and needy in Israel, care for people affected by Operation Pillar of Defense, teach the Word of God in the epicenter, educate and mobilize Christians around the world to bless poor and needy Israelis, train pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt, strengthen the believers in Syria, and prepare for the next major war in the Middle East — would you make a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund?
- Follow Joel on Twitter — @joelcrosenberg
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