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Will there be a Palestinian State?
What does the Bible say?
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September 17, 2011 - Audio, 10.25 MIN
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The UK Telegraph announces that, "Palestinians defy Barack Obama and push ahead for their own state"; the Associated Press, "Palestinian leader will ask for full UN membership"; and the Globe and Mail, "Abbas to ask for full UN membership, but cautions Palestinians against outsized hopes."
Humanly speaking, it seems as if the proposed "Palestinian State" is a foregone conclusion. The majority of the countries in the world are for the idea, the world media has been in favour for years and it is quite likely that the UN, will confer some kind of "state" status on the Palestinian Arabs in one way or another. However, even humanly speaking there are some significant problems with the idea.

The first problem is that the Palestinian Authority has no authority over the Gaza strip. There is a significant Arab population in the area and the territory has been virtually handed over by Israel to the Arabs. Yet the terror organization Hamas took power there in a democratic election and by subsequent use of force. Without Gaza the proposed "Palestinian State" would be an uneconomically viable,  landlocked territory. Hamas will not give up its power and it will be very difficult to dislodge them.

The next problem is the ideological Jewish settlements that exist throughout the west bank. Love them or hate them, they are facts on the ground and have no plans of going anywhere. Many have said they are staying, even if they end up in a Palestinian state and are preparing for that event. On September 9 a new movement was established by Jewish activists called "Jewish Authority". The "Israel National News" website reported:

"The Jewish Authority makes it very clear that even if the Israeli government decides to give up parts of Judea and Samaria to the Arabs, its members do not intend to be expelled from their homes as was the case in Gush Katif in 2005... “The Jews got this land and we will keep this land even if the State of Israel decides to withdraw from it.”

The only viable way for their proposed removal, is if the Israeli government were to take upon itself to forcibly remove them, as was done in the Gaza strip. However, this project may simply not be realistic and could even result in civil war. Of those approximately 7000 Jews forcibly removed from Gaza six years ago, many still live in refugee style housing. Now, imagine trying to forcibly remove 300,000 Jews - the population of the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem. Even if all the major settlement blocks remained part of Israel, it would still mean forcibly removing 100,000 men women and children from their homes! One may wonder what would happen if the Israel Defence Force pulled out and left these Jews to their fate. Well, others have thought of that too, and believe it or not, it has the architects of the Palestinian state a little worried. What if the Arabs attacked the Jews, tried to massacre them... and well, they lost? There seems to be a lurking fear amongst the PA backers that this could happen and for good reason. The Jewish state has survived against all odds from the very beginning. Time after time in 1948, then 1967, and 1973. Forcing the Jews into the sea has never been an effective option for the Arabs.

There may be other implications to the Palestinian UN bid as well. The Ynet news site has the headline: "Is Oslo agreement dead?" The article says:

"Diplomatic earthquake in store? The upcoming Palestinian statehood bid constitutes a "new game" that will allow Israel to respond without being constrained by past agreements, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon says.

"Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is "not only changing the rules of the game, but the game itself," Ayalon told Ynet Friday. "Israel knows how to respond and from now on would be able to realize its interests without any limitations or concessions stemming from previous agreements, including the Oslo Accords.""

Not only may the UN bid result in the annulling of the Oslo peace accords, but it could also end up causing Israel international legal problems. The Israeli settlements are currently on disputed territory, the fate of which is to be decided by "negotiations" according to the Oslo accords. The only way out of this predicament, would be for Israel to unilaterally annex territory where there are Jewish settlements in the west bank. Under the Oslo accords Israel and the PLO were not to make unilateral moves. The Palestinian UN bid is a unilateral move breaching the Oslo accord. With the end of the Oslo process and resulting legal problems, Israel may be forced to expand its territory into Judea and Samaria.

Well, what we really want to know is if and what the Bible says about the territory where the Palestinians plan to proclaim their state. Ultimately when the kingdom is restored to Israel and the throne of David reestablished, we know that there will not be an Arab state within the promised land -- from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates. There are two areas where the Palestinians plan to establish a state, the Gaza strip and the West Bank. The Gaza strip is part of what was the Biblical Philistine territory, there is nothing prophetical to my knowledge which would rule out an Arab state on this territory in the last days.

The west bank is the territory in the mountainous centre of the land of Israel. In Biblical times it was largely the region of Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim. Many in Israel today call this area Judea and Samaria. The name of the  government funded Yesha council, is made from an acronym, formed from the first letters of the hebrew words for these areas and Gaza: Yehudah (Judah), Shomron (Samaria) and Aza (Gaza). So what we want to know is what the Bible says about the mountainous heartland of Judah and Samaria in the last days.

In the prophecy of Joel chapter 3, in the first two verses, which form the summary for the chapter, we read:

"For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,  I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land."

These verses clearly state that in the time of the gathering of all nations against Israel, God will have brought again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem. It maybe that a person would respond that this is referring to another time in history, maybe the gathering from Babylon for instance. This would hardly fit, as all nations have never been gathered together against regathered Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. But the end of the chapter leaves no doubt. Consider verses 16, 17 and 18 to 20:

"The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more... Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion."

Joel 3 is speaking of the regathering of Judah and Jerusalem at the point in history when the kingdom will be restored to Israel and Jerusalem will be holy. The prophet Ezekiel opens out the picture when the nations will be gathered against Jerusalem to battle in chapter 38. Ezekiel says these nations come against those Jews who dwell in the midst of land, and, "...into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them." From the context of the chapter it is evident that Ezekiel is speaking of the same time as Joel. Judah and Jerusalem, the midst of the land, the mountains of Israel, are occupied by regathered Jews at the time of the end when the kingdom is restored to Israel.

The words of Christ complement this picture in Luke 21:24. Prophesying of the Romans who would scatter Jesus' people the Jews, the Master says: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

Jesus is speaking of the same time as Joel and Ezekiel. The time when Jerusalem will be liberated from Gentile hands. From these passages we can be assured that there will not be a Palestinian Arab state in the mountainous region of Judah and Jerusalem. If some form of state comes into existence, we can be certain that it will soon enter the dustbin of history as another failed "Middle East solution"!

Return next week God willing to This has been David Billington with you.

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