As Israel Storms Jericho, the U.S. & Britain Blamed
Collusion? or election politics?
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
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Welcome once more to the Bible in the News! This is Paul Billington saying ‘Hello’ yet again, and looking at those points in the news that contact with the word of God—the Bible.
As always, there are many different points of contact this week, such as the archeological dig that is unearthing Cana of Galilee, or another dig close to the Egyptian border which some are saying brings to light the period of the Exodus. But the main headline this week is the storming of a Jericho prison by Israeli troops. This say the Israelis, was to capture a Palestinian who had assassinated Israel’s Minister for Tourism in 2001. On coming to power in Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas had said that they would release Palestinian prisoners held by the Palestinian Authority--and it seems that Israel had different ideas, and so went in and captured them, including the Assassin.
The whole episode became complicated when the United States and Britain were accused of collusion with Israel. Within ten minutes of British monitors being pulled out of Jericho, the Israelis--about 1,000 troops--moved in.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Palestinian leader Abbas has said that there was close coordination between British and American inspectors at the prison and Israeli forces. His proof was rather slim--he said (and I quote), "I’m giving the facts. They (the monitors) left at 9:20 a.m. and the Israelis came in at 9:30 a.m. How can we explain that?"
Well, the possibility is there I suppose. Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, says that the British monitors were pulled out for their own safety. In the House of Commons in London, Blair said (and I quote the news report here):
"For the past three months we have been warning the Palestinian Authority that the security of these monitors was at risk, that the procedures at the particular detention centre were not adequate and proper," he said.
"That culminated last week on march 8 with both the UK and US consuls general jointly writing to President Abbas, making it clear that unless the Palestinian Authority met its obligations, we would have to terminate involvement with the mission with immediate effect. So the fact is, for months we have been warning about this."The news report continues to say that:
"British and American officials said they had complained repeatedly about security conditions at the prison and threatened in a letter last week--a copy of which was sent to Israel--to remove the monitors if things did not improve immediately. Israeli officials said that once the monitors left, they were forced to act in light of recent statements by Palestinian officials and Hamas leaders--including incoming Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh--of plans to free the prisoners."So Israel did know that the British and American inspectors were about to be withdrawn--is that collusion? Well, maybe; but others are saying that the whole operation was undertaken in order to improve the chances of Kadima winning the Israeli elections--coming up in two weeks time. That is the party of acting Prime Minister Olmert--who is, by the way, not a very good actor and not a very good Prime Minister either!
Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud says the Jericho operation changes nothing. In a report in the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu said (quote):
"Olmert’s strategic plan is wrong and dangerous, and this is the issue the Israeli public will vote on. Every voter should ask himself whether he is willing to support such a significant withdrawal."
The report went on to say:
"...Likud sources expressed concern that the operation would help Kadima and prevent a further slide in the polls. For Olmert--a prime ministerial candidate with a shortage of military experience--the timing of Tuesday’s raid two weeks before the March 28 election could not have been better. Olmert denied that political considerations were involved in his decision making. His aides insisted that the timing of the operation was just good luck, and they called politicians who thought otherwise "sick in the head.""So it remains to be seen just what happens next. The election is still about two weeks away--and who can tell what other events may yet influence the outcome?
We will be travelling to Israel this weekend, God willing, and will be there to speak with you about things next week. So listen in next Thursday as we speak to you from an on-the-spot vantage point. The upcoming election may determine the immediate future of the West Bank--though in the long-term, we know from Scripture that the Jews will be living there. This means that if Israel withdraws now, circumstances will cause them to move back in again soon afterwards. But events could yet put a stop to any withdrawal plans. We hope to visit the West Bank area and dodge the bullets sometime in the next two weeks.
In the meantime, it is interesting to note the way in which the US, Britain and Israel are bing seen as an enemy group by the Palestinians. A picture of Palestinians burning the flags of the United States, Britain and Israel, following the Jericho operation has appeared on news sites. It expresses a very interesting situation from the viewpoint of Bible prophecy, and once again fits the circumstances that are described in Ezekiel 38:13.
We have commented on this passage several times in the past, but whatever we may choose to make of it, we cannot escape the fact that we have merchant powers, or trading nations, speaking up in Israel’s defence in this verse. Here we see that the invasion of the mountains of Israel is being protested by these merchants of Tarshish and their young lions. They are sympathetic to Israel’s cause, and they are concerned about their investments there--silver, gold, cattle, goods, and a great spoil.
This indicates something more as well. Not only is there a supporting group of trading nations here, but when this prophecy is finally fulfilled, Israel will have become prosperous. It is clear that they will have become rich. This means that some fundamental changes must yet take place in order to bring this about. As we were saying on our edition for March 2nd, there could yet be a major conflict in the Middle East that could bring considerable changes to the general scene. This is not impossible and could be triggered by any one of the current hot spots--Iran, Iraq or the Israel-Palestinian situation itself. Any of these could unite the United States, Britain, Australia--and now India--in an alliance that exactly matches that seen in Ezekiel 38:13.
Exciting developments are under way, and as we continue to watch them from a Bible perspective, faith is more and more confirmed, and we see that the time is now very close when Christ will return, when he will summon his saints and redeem his people.
So we continue to watch the working out of God’s purpose in the news--we see the Bible in the News; so join us again next week when, God willing, we will bring you a special edition direct from the Land of Israel.
Printed: Wednesday, March 15, 2006
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