This year of 2017 will see 3 significant anniversaries for Israel:
1. June 7, 2017, will be the 50th anniversary of Israel’s retaking of its capital city of Jerusalem.
2. Nov. 29, 2017, is the 70th anniversary of the U.N.’s approval of the plan that returned Israel to statehood after a dispersion that lasted nearly 1,900 years.
3. Nov. 2, 2017, will be the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Balfour Declaration, the United Kingdom’s pledge to seek the re-formation of the Jewish state in the region of Palestine.
In addition, as part of his very first overseas trip, US President Donald Trump will be coming here to Israel sometime during the week of May 21. Since this trip is coming on the heels of Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas’s meeting with President Trump, there is great concern that Mr. Trump will perhaps try to push the long defunct “peace process,” thinking that he alone can “make a deal.”
Chances for such a “deal” are indeed remote. Little has changed since the days of the Madrid Conference of 1991 or the Oslo Accords of 1993. In his Mosaic Magazine essay, Do Palestinians Want a Two-State Solution?, Daniel Polisar of Shalem College reviewed some 400 surveys carried out by five Palestinian research centers. From the data he has establish that the Palestinians hold three related views of Israel:
1. Israel has no historical or moral claim to exist.
2. Israel is inherently rapacious and expansionist.
3. Israel is doomed to extinction.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand the Palestinian mantra, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
In 2008, under PM Ehud Olmert, Israel offered to withdraw from 93% of the “West Bank”. The overture was rejected by Abbas. Similarly PM Ehud Barak was willing to relinquish 95% of Judea and Samaria including the Temple Mount to Yassir Arafat in 2000. This too was rejected.
Then there was Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in August, 2005. Instead of the hoped-for peace, it brought only death and destruction. From 2006-2016, there were 10,412 rocket attacks, an average of 947 per year, the highest number coming during Israel’s three wars with Gaza: 925 during the 2008-9 war, 845 during the 2012 war and 3,852 during the 2014 war.
Palestinian textbooks are full of hatred toward Israel. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was recently exposed for incitement and anti-Semitism in their schools. Nevertheless, they refused to make any changes to their textbooks. Palestinian children in grades 1 to 4 are being indoctrinated with a radical curriculum. It “teaches students to be martyrs, demonizes and denies the existence of Israel, and focuses on a ‘return’ to an exclusively Palestinian homeland.”
Perhaps what should be shocking to most Western societies is that families of terrorists who are “martyred” are rewarded with monthly stipends. As a matter of fact, they have just received an increase in their monthly payments. Why? Because it’s important to “keep up with the cost of living.” In 2016, more than 32,500 martyrs’ families received payments. At his meeting with Abbas, President Trump raised concern about the PA’s program of paying terrorists and their families. A senior Palestinian leader later called the idea mad and drew a moral equivalence to the IDF paying the salaries of Israeli soldiers.
In examining all of the above issues I fail to see how any kind of peace agreement can be reached unless Abbas and the PA leaders can be pressured to make serious concessions (highly doubtful!). The problem however, not only exists with the Palestinians, but with the West itself. In his brilliant article, The 100 Year Betrayal of Israel by the West, Ted Belman lays out point by point the many times the West and particularly Britain and the United States turned their backs on Israel, especially during times of crises.
It remains to be seen how Trump, who brags about his “dealmaking,” will respond to both Netanyahu and Abbas. My prayer is that God may give him wisdom so that he will not pressure Israel to make foolhardy concessions. A peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians under those conditions will be no more than an exercise in futility.
With all that is going on in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iran, I think it is time to leave us in Israel alone, and allow the only true democracy in the Middle East continue to bless the world with all its scientific and technological advances. God is truly fulfilling the promise that He made to Abraham:
I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:3