A Palestinian State? Where Does Israel Stand?
by Dan Juster, Director, Restoration From Zion
Some of my friends find Israel's policy very confusing. What does the current Israeli government really want? Further complicating the matter is the lack of unity among those who form the ruling government coalition. (Cabinet members regularly speak out for their preferred policies even when it is not the policy of the Prime Minister.)
In light of this hard-to-understand, yet vital subject matter, I want to share some of my thoughts about the Israeli approach regarding the West Bank and the idea of a separate Palestinian State.
What Israelis Really Think about Palestinian Intentions
Israelis generally believe that the Palestinians have no intention of negotiating a real agreement that would safeguard the security and the Jewishness of Israel as a state while making room for a Palestinian state. This is their conclusion after the Palestinian rejection of the last two big Israeli offers - the first in the year 2000 by Ehud Barak to Yassir Arafat; the other in 2008 by Ehud Olmert to Mahmoud Abbas. Most Israelis currently believe any language of peace coming from Palestinians is a ruse to deceive a naïve world and destroy Israel.
So while the Israeli government gives lip service to a two state solution, they no longer think that it could really work. Most Israeli Jews believe the Palestinians are not a genuine or credible partner. Two issues clarify this.
Firstly, the major Jewish settlement blocks in the "West Bank" are cities with 20,000 to 50,000 citizens each. Altogether 750,000 Israelis live on the "other" side of the "green line". The Abbas position to accept none of these existing settlement blocks spelled the end of negotiations with him, even though all previous plans kept the major blocks as part of Israel with land swaps for the Palestinians.
Secondly, the idea of the return of Arab refugee in large numbers is another condition that is impossible for Israel to approve. Netanyahu can say he is in favor of a two state solution, and maybe theoretically he is if Israel's red lines are not crossed. But this hardly seems possible now. The recent UN resolution declaring all communities on the other side of the green line to be illegal, may have made it impossible forever.
So the Israeli approach is to call for negotiations, but basically just to wait. For what then might Israel be waiting? One thought is that the day could come when the world would realize that Jordan is really a Palestinian state, and that Palestinian areas should be part of Jordan and the Jewish areas part of Israel. West Bank Palestinians would have Jordanian citizenship and Gaza would either be independent or go back to Egypt. In fact Jordan was originally part of the Palestine Mandate for Jewish settlement. Today, the great majority of the Jordanian population is Palestinian. So the logical Palestinian state is Jordan. But King Hussein is not Palestinian and rules through a minority tribe. He does not want any more Palestinian citizens and hence wants a second Palestinian State.
The Palestinian Tactic and Israel's Response
Abbas is seeking to establish a state without solving the security issues for Israel, nor compromising on the large settlement blocks. This makes Israel's waiting game difficult. Hence the push by some to see Israel annex the large settlements and additional West Bank areas. Such unilateral moves by Israel would match the recent unilateral moves of Abbas and the UN. On the other hand, some are urging the government coalition to be quiet and stop calling for annexations. They want to act in close cooperation with President Trump, including pushing back the disastrous UN resolution that declared even the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem, to be illegal.
It's quite a mess, and we have no choice but to wait and see what will happen. In the meantime we should be praying fervently for God's intervention.
Here are some prayer points:
1. Pray that Christians will not be deceived by Palestinian propaganda.
2. Pray that the government of Israel will receive supernatural wisdom to navigate the great difficulties of the present situation.
Pray that the Messianic Jewish community and the Arab Christian Community in Israel will join together as a witness to truth.
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