U.S. foreign affairs expert Walter Russell Mead described the most recent round of Obama vs. Netanyahu as Bambi meets Godzilla. According to Mead, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress "eviscerated President Obama's foreign policy to prolonged and repeated standing ovations by members of both parties," and it "may have been the single most stunning and effective public rebuke to an American President a foreign leader has ever delivered." However, this was only because the prime minister had the facts, common sense, and the Bible on his side.
First, let us look at the facts. Though the president called on Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders, what he is really referring to is the 1949 armistice borders. This tract of land is less than was officially bestowed on the Jewish nation by the U.N. in 1948. As a result of being attacked by the Arabs the day after its official statehood began, Israel reached out to the defeated Arabs. In an effort to secure peace, the Jews gave away land. (Does that sound familiar?) Did it work? Not if one looks at history objectively and notes that the Arabs attacked again in 1956, 1967, and 1973.
The president seems to be asking Israel to return to borders that he believes represents the borders officially recognized by the international community. But the 1967 borders have NEVER been recognized by any international body as the land that comprises Israel. Thus, by this "generous" offer, the president is actually taking land from the Jews.
Moreover, it should be recognized that the Israel - Palestinian conflict is not a border dispute. Instead, from the vantage point of the Palestinians, it is the refusal to recognize the right of the existence of the Jewish nation in the land of Allah. After all, there is no territorial dispute with Iran, yet every Monday and Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls for the extinction of the Jewish nation. In addition, there is no territorial dispute with Lebanon, yet Hizbullah is seeking the elimination of Israel.
In addition, as Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu declared, withdrawing to the 1967 lines would be "indefensible". It would make Israel nine miles wide at its narrowest point, Jerusalem would be surrounded by enemies on three sides, and the West Bank's strategic highlands would provide a perfect vantage for terrorists to hit major, metropolitan areas of the Jewish nation.
Furthermore, Israeli Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon stated that since the Palestinians do not even recognize the right of Israel to exist, Israel has no current partner for peace. Thus, what good will even the greatest of concessions do if the other side does not recognize Israel's right to exist?
That Israel has no partner for peace right now should be self-evident. In the past two years, the Palestinians have proved they have absolutely no interest in negotiations with Israel. So what is the real reason peace between Israel and the Palestinians has not been achieved? Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu presented it very well when he explained it is because the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state—IF that means accepting a Jewish state alongside it. Thus, the only way Palestinian leadership wants a Palestinian state is if Israel no longer exists. That, of course, would mean for Israel to give away ALL of its land.
As the prime minister explained, "Israel can only make peace with the Palestinians if they are willing" to make peace. When Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas wrote his op-ed piece in the New York Times on May 17, he did not share the "inconvenient truth" that the Palestinians and Arab states rejected the U.N. partition plan in 1948, while Israel accepted it. Had the Palestinians accepted it at that point, they could have had their own state for the past sixty-three years.
Now, let us sprinkle some common sense on the mix. President Obama envisions Israel withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders and settling the settlement issues with land swaps. But this would be returning to a theme that did not work on at least three previous occasions. (The fourth time is the charm, right?) Palestinians rejected land swaps in 2000, 2001, and 2008. Each time land swaps were offered the Palestinian leadership, Palestinians said no and walked away.
President Obama has called Israel to leave the West Bank for peace, just as President Bush called Jews to leave Gaza to the Palestinians for the same cause. However, it would be good to learn from the Gaza experience. Since Israel gave that land to the Palestinians in the hope of obtaining peace, Hamas has launched 10,000 rockets against the Jews, which continue to this day. Now President Obama is asking Israel to get burned again—in a far bigger way, by turning over the rest of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. However, like the Jewish mantra learned from the Holocaust, Israel is now saying, "Never again!"
So, we have observed some of the facts and have glanced at some common sense issues; now we need to see what the Bible has to say about all of this.
President Obama's plan envisions Israel giving away East Jerusalem as a key component of "land for peace". However, the Bible shows that Israel will still be in possession of this area when the seven-year treaty with Israel is initiated. We know that because, as an integral part of the treaty, Israel will be given "permission" to rebuild the Jewish temple on the Temple Mount. Since the Temple Mount resides in East Jerusalem, the key component will not be given to the Palestinians. In fact, since the Palestinians have already pulled themselves out of the negotiations with Israel (by making a pact with Israel's enemies, Hamas, and by going to the U.N. Security Council for a September resolution declaring a Palestinian state), it appears Israel will not be giving away any land to them. In fact, by holding firm and not giving away any more land, God is positioning Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to be a strong leader for the Jews as we head toward the end-times treaty.
Netanyahu's Newfound Popularity & the End-Times Treaty
As a result of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's recent trip to Washington, the prime minister's popularity in Israel has soared. According to a new Haaretz poll, Israelis are giving the prime minister's Washington visit high marks, considering it an overwhelming success.
If he is the prime minister when the end-times treaty (the one that starts the clock ticking on the final seven years leading to the return of Christ), it will be important for him to be strong and popular in Israel when those talks begin in order for others in negotiation with Israel to take the demand for a rebuilt temple seriously.
There are indicators that show God is already orchestrating events in preparation for that time. Thus, it lines up well for Israel to have a leader who is wildly popular and whose name means "Gift of God," while heading toward that end-times treaty.
In the meantime, believers in Jesus Christ need to realize that in the midst of the chaos and apparent insanity, God is still in control, working in the hearts of leaders to produce His end-times alignment (cf. Proverbs 21:1). But as we see this alignment taking shape, we need to keep looking up!
[For a clear understanding on the riveting events leading up to the return of Christ—including the end-times treaty, the rebuilding of the temple, and the incredible events following, see Apocalypse 2012: The Ticking of the End Time Clock—What Does the Bible Say?]