Will the Current Peace Talks between Israel and the Arabs Succeed?
How will the peace spoken of in the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 be achieved?
Friday, January 10, 2014
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The 20 year anniversary of the signing of the Oslo peace accords, between Yitzhak Rabin and Yassar Arafat passed last year with little fanfare. There have been Nobel peace prizes, billions of dollars, countless hours of shuttle diplomacy and conferences, that have been put into — and continue to be put into — the "peace process", but in reality the whole fiasco has been a complete disaster. John Kerry, the United States Secretary of State, seems to have made the "peace process" the main goal of his office, making many visits to the region and pushing the sides toward reaching an agreement.
We are now in 2014 and the "peace process" continues. John Kerry has succeeded in getting the parties to the negotiating table. On January 9, hardline Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, turned around and seemingly supported John Kerry's plan in an interview with the UK Telegraph. This is an apparent success for John Kerry, however, exactly what Lieberman thinks is a little shrouded as the Telegraph also reported regarding Lieberman, that, "He remains unrepentant about Israel’s right to expand settlements in the West Bank..."
Prospects of the John Kerry plan succeeding are doubtful just from a purely practical point of view. There are some fundamental facts, that place the whole idea of pushing for a peace settlement in the current climate, as very foolish from Israel's point of view, as well as a practical impossibility. Here are three:
1. The regimes surrounding Israel are very unstable and may be history in a short period of time. A peace treaty signed with the Palestinian Arabs is of little value without the support of all the surrounding countries, where many so called Palestinian refugees reside. These people have been denied citizenship by their host countries in order to preserve the refugee problem and put pressure on Israel. The problem of the refugees and their supposed "right of return" to the land of Israel, is one of the major roadblocks for an agreement. This could only be solved with all parties being involved, which would for example include the Syrian government.
2. The proposed area for a Palestinian State is currently divided between two warring Palestinian Arab factions, the Islamic Hamas which rule the Gaza strip and the PLO which have civil jurisdiction in the West Bank autonomous areas. The two territories are not contiguous and the West Bank area is landlocked without an airport or seaport. Even all the territory together is hardly a viable state. Currently the main problem however, is that the current negotiations do not include half the Palestinian Arab side, making it impossible to have an agreement. In reality Kerry has only succeeded in getting some of the parties to negotiate.
3. By many estimates the Jewish population in the West Bank area of the proposed Arab state is past the point of no return. Population estimates vary depending on which areas are included. CBS reported in 2013 that there were 341,400 Jews living in the West Bank. This does not include over 200,000 living in East Jerusalem which Israel annexed right after the six day war. Even if Israel retained all the major settlements it hopes to in a peace treaty, this would still leave approximately 85,000 largely ideological Jews, who would have to be forcibly removed from their homes and resettled in the rest of the country. It is openly acknowledged that this could lead to civil war in Israel and is logistically impossible. (8500 settlers were forcibly removed from the Gaza strip in 2005 and they still have not all found proper housing and jobs in Israel.) There is also the immoral aspect, of forcibly transferring a population based on race alone — simply because they are Jewish.
From these three facts alone, it is evident that the current round of talks, on a purely practical basis, cannot go anywhere. In the meantime Israel continues to build in the areas it considers hers, announcing this week construction tenders for 1800 new housing units in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Recent polls show that Israelis in general reject further concessions to the Palestinian Arabs as reported on Israel National News this week.
A potentially explosive report broke in Israel this week reported on mainstream Galei Tzahal, which is the IDF Radio station, reporting from government sources that John Kerry is behind European Boycott threats and that "Kerry is making sure the threats stay in check, but as soon as the peace talks fail he intends to open the floodgates and spur on full-blown international boycotts on Israel."
The prospects of peace in Israel has been watched carefully by students of Bible Prophecy for many years. This is because it is a fundamental requirement of the prophecy of Ezekiel 38. The Oslo peace process was at first greeted as a possible means to this end. However, as the real intention of this process has come to light, it is now clear that it does not meet the requirements of Bible Prophecy.
Writing in the publication "Milestones to the Kingdom, A Review of 1989 World Events in the Light of Bible Prophecy", Graham Pearce considered the then current American efforts to implement a peace treaty, which in many ways don't differ much from what we see today, although they probably had a greater chance for success. In 1989 the Jewish settlement population, excluding East Jerusalem was only 72,800. This is about a fifth of what it is today! Graham Pearce considered, "What the Bible Indicates" - and this certainly hasn't changed today. This is what he wrote:
"At the time of the northern invasion Israel is a people "that dwell in the midst of the land". Ezek. 38:12... the midst or central part of the land is just where the West Bank is. Whatever, other part Israel may give up it could hardly be the West Bank, which she now occupies."
Some of the requirements that must be fulfilled according to Ezekiel chapter 38, in regards to the Jews and the land of Israel are as follows:
1. There will be Jews who have returned from exile living on the "mountains of Israel" (verse 8) in the "midst of the land" (verse 12). That there is no doubt that this refers to the area known today as the West Bank; this is reinforced by Joel chapter three where the prophet says: "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem..."
2. These Jews will be living in prosperity, having acquired cattle and goods (Ezekiel 38:12)
3. They will be dwelling in peace. Verse 8 says, "...they shall dwell safely all of them". Verse 11 pictures the returned Jews on the mountains of Israel as, "them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates". In verse 14, God says to Gog, "In that day when My people Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?" These passages are fairly emphatic that a significant situation of peace and rest exists, at the prophesied time of Gog's great invasion.
Will the current round of peace negotiations lead to the peace spoken of by the prophet Ezekiel? The answer is that while they may play some kind of a role, the main goal of these negotiations is to establish a Palestinian Arab state in midst of the land of Israel, upon the mountains of Israel; whether this can be accommodated while still fulfilling the requirements of Ezekiel seems extremely unlikely.
How then will the peace spoken of by Ezekiel come about? Time will tell the answer to this question as events unfold and all the pieces of the final great scene in this drama come into place. It should be clearly understood however, that while we look for these events to come to pass, there is nothing to suggest that this situation of peace will not transpire after the return of Jesus Christ. The current transforming of the Middle East is leading to this situation described by Ezekiel and we can be certain that we are on the very verge of these events becoming a reality. Please return next week, as we God willing, will continue to consider the Bible in the News. This has been David Billington with you.
Printed: Friday, January 10, 2014
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