November 26, 2023 - Audio, 8.45 MIN
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The Abraham Accords brought peace between Israel and some Arab states, but could they also help to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well?
Israel will not be living in the peace and safety spoken of in Ezekiel 38 until there is peace within its own territory. Many see the conflict as unsolvable - but the prophecy says that Israeli will live in peace at the time just prior to Christ appearing to Israel.
Prior to the October 7th terror attacks in Israel, official Israeli-Saudi normalization talks were being openly discussed by not only Israeli leaders, but also Saudi officials, even including the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. In a fox news interview just two and a half weeks before the attacks, Mohammed bin Salman said that they were getting “closer every day” to a normalization agreement with Israel. One of the points of discussion was the “Palestinian issue”, which the crown prince said was very important to them. He went on to say that they aimed to reach a place that would “ease the life of Palestinians” and “get Israel as a player in the Middle East. He did not say that they required a Palestinian State, nor any agreement with the Palestinians, but simply that they wanted to see some “easing” of the life of Palestinians. What Saudi Arabia is most likely wanting is simply something that they can hold up to their people, and the other nations in the region to defend their decision to normalise with Israel.
However, before any agreement was reached war broke out following the October 7th attacks. On that day around 1,200 Israeli’s were killed, and nearly 250 more were taken hostage by Hamas. Israel invaded the northern part of the Gaza strip, with the stated aims of freeing the hostages and eradicating Hamas and removing them from power. For Saudi Arabia to normalise relations with Israel at this time would have made the backlash within the Arab world very harsh – perhaps this was one of Hamas’ motives for the attacks. Whether this was their aim or not, Saudi Arabia decided to “pause” the talks based on the situation – but importantly did not choose to abandon them to break them off entirely. It is likely that these talks will continue after the war, depending on the outcome of the Israel-Hamas war.
Now it is possible the Israeli- Saudi talks continue from where they left off the day before Hamas’ attack, however it is also possible that the situation the day after this war is fundamentally different, and so the negotiations take a new direction. One of Israeli’s stated aims is to remove Hamas from governing the Gaza strip, to eradicate Hamas in fact. Just today the head of the IDF said “once the swap deal is completed, we will resume fighting with renewed determination until we set all hostages free and dismantle Hamas”. Netanyahu meeting his troops today told them that they would “eliminate Hamas” to “ensure that Gaza will not go back to being a threat to the State of Israel”.
Should a new reality emerge after this war, one where Hamas has been removed from power, who would then rule Gaza? Some in the United States were concerned that Israel might reoccupy the territory, but a senior Israeli official came and said “It’s no Israel’s intention to reoccupy Gaza or control it” for the long term. It was suggested by some that Israel might give the area to the Palestinian Authority which is considered by some to be “more moderate” than Hamas, only for Netanyahu to rule this out too, after pointing to the fact that the PA had refused to condemn the October 7th attack, and that some even celebrated the event. According to Politico, Germany made its own proposal, suggesting that the UN should take control of Gaza after the war. This was quickly rejected by Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog as well due to UN bias. So the question remains, what does Israel have in mind for Gaza after the war?
In an interview with Fox News, Netanyahu spoke of his view on the future for Gaza. He said that the focus must be on de-radicalising Gaza, and explained why in his view the Palestinian Authority could never be entrusted with this task as they have failed to do so in the West Bank. He said that without de-radicalising Gaza the conflict would continue, and that “we need a different future, Palestinians deserve a different future” and it would require “Israeli military control for the foreseeable future to deradicalize and demilitarize Gaza, it’s possible to do it. I know there are Arab states that could contribute to this.”
Who might these Arab states be? Gideon Sa’ar, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet spoke with i24 News repeating a lot of what Netanyahu had said, saying he was “not sure the Palestinian Authority was the right partner in order to do so [deradicalize Gaza] according to our experience with them during the last 30 years”. When asked who the right partner would be to control Gaza after the war and help deradicalize the territory he suggested the Egyptians, Saudi’s and other Arab neighbouring states.
And so the question has to be asked, could the Israeli-Saudi negotiations resume after the war and not only be Israeli-Saudi normalization, but be a much larger agreement, where Saudi Arabia can claim huge Israeli concessions “improving the life of Palestinians”, be very involved in the reconstruction of Gaza, and in exchange control civil matters of Gaza, giving Israel reassurance that Hamas and other terrorist organisations in Gaza would be prevented from getting a foothold. In such a situation it might be realistic for Israel to allow unrestricted movement of goods in and out of Gaza and make living in Gaza like living in any normal state of the Middle East.
Whether this is what unfolds remains to be seen, but what we know from the Bible is that at the time of Christ’s return Israel will be at peace, dwelling on the mountains of Israel. Despite this we know from Joel 3 that “the coasts of Palestine” will be inhabited by people that hate God’s people Israel and will be judged for their hatred of them. From prophecy we therefore do not look for the removal of Palestinians from Gaza, nor them suddenly becoming in any way fond of the Jewish State, but their ability to attack Israel completely removed. Perhaps this situation could be much closer than we think.
However, we know that the peace and safety mentioned in Ezekiel 38 is short lived, because Gog’s host invades from the north, with its whole confederacy – and so our prayer is for true peace in Jerusalem, when Christ rules not only Israel, but the whole world in peace and righteousness.