Can There Really Be Peace In the Middle East?
Peace has been a shifty little devil when it comes to the Middle East. Peacemakers have given themselves migraine headaches trying to sort out the myriad complications. I’m positive some have desired to slit their wrists while walking away from failed negotiations. Yet people, presidents, and pundits continue to call for peace at any cost. But can there be peace? In a one word answer, yes! But that is not the right question. You should be asking; “Will there be peace?” Again, the answer is yes. (Alright, I’m toying with you. Please accept my apologies.)
Let me give you a bit of a rundown, a chronology if you will, of the many attempts, accords, and affirmations that have been signed over the last twenty years. But first, a misnomer—myth that I must clear up before we start. The legal claim of the Jews over the land of Israel is not necessarily based on ancient rights given to Abraham. Now, as a Christian, I believe that covenant is eternally binding, but it won’t get us very far in a court of law. The truth is Israel’s right can be determined on the basis of continuous settlement in the land since ancient times. The Jews have been present in Palestine (The Holy Land) since Abraham. Add to that the fact that the Zionist movement developed the land in the mid-nineteenth century. They took it from deserted bogs right into productivity. Problem, the Palestinian/Muslim/Arab habitation also goes back over a thousand years. And there we have our problem. Now, enter the many attempts to solve the issues that divide these ancient cousins.
The OSLO Peace Process… Begun in 1993 when Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Declaration of Principles and the Oslo Interim Agreement. Administered by President Bill Clinton, the agreement created the Palestinian National Authority that would supposedly have the authority to negotiate with Israel and to govern the West Bank and Gaza. Israel was required to withdraw from those areas. For the most part they did. However, though required to denounce terrorism and recognize Israel’s right to exist, the radicalized Islamic organization known as Hamas began to expedite car bombings within Israel and the negotiations were derailed. The results of the Oslo Peace Process included the glorification of Yasser Arafat among the Palestinians, and the eventual assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a fellow Jew.
The Camp David Accords… July 2000. An attempt to re-start the Oslo Interim Agreement was derailed when the Palestinians insisted that refugees should have the right to return to Israel. This would have produced an Arab majority in Israel, and Israel said no. However, both sides agreed to an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. (This, of course, has proven itself to have been a horrible mistake on the part of Israel.)
The Saudi Peace Proposal and Palestinian State Resolution-- Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah proposed to end the long Arab war against Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights. Abdullah re-visited a 1947 UN Resolution that called for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. On March 12, 2002 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1397 affirming Abdullah’s proposal and calling for an end to the Intifadah. Result: Violence intensified and Israel backed away from the proposal.
UN Resolution 1402… After Colin Powell failed in an attempt to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the table, the Security Council called for an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories. Instead, IDF forces blockaded Yasser Arafat’s compound in Ramallah. The Un Security Council adopted Resolution 1403 expressing dismay that resolution 1402 had not been implemented. (Somebody threw a fit, evidently.) On April 19, 2002, Resolution 1405 was adopted, calling for an impartial investigation into the matter.
June, 2002… President George W. Bush made a long awaited speech on Middle East policy and called for a Palestinian state. However, he insisted on democratic reform of the Palestinian National Authority. Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon changed his hawkish position and agreed in principle. Result… and increase in car bombings, but also a call for elections among the Palestinians. Mahmud Abbas assumed the post of Prime Minister.
June 4, 2003, Aqaba. Sharon and Abbas shake hands and vow to fulfill Bush’s conditions found in the Road Map for Peace. Result, Hamas vows to continue the violence. Israel responded, and so on and so forth.
GENEVA ACCORD… Israeli opposition leaders and the Palestinians announce an agreement in principle for a final peace settlement. Israel would give up sovereignty of Arab controlled Jerusalem while the Palestinians would renounce the right of refugee return. Colin Powell supported the accord as did Yasser Arafat. Problem: Palestinian extremists stepped up bombings, and the Israeli government rejected the accord. Soon after, Israel began erecting the Security Barrier.
Sharm El Sheikh Conference.. February 8, 2005. Negotiations presided by Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah bring about an end to violence and the Intifadah. Agreement was made to resume the Road Map for Peace. Result: a Damascus controlled Islamic organization detonated a car bomb in Tel Aviv on Feb. 25th. However, the Israeli Knesset approved the plan for disengagement and a unilateral withdrawal from 21 settlements in Gaza and 4 in the West Bank.
June 21, 2005…. Sharon and Abbas meet in a long-awaited summit. No results beyond a resurgence of violence perpetrated by Islamic Jihad terrorists.
Hamas takes control of the Palestinian National Authority on January 26, 2006, after submitting to US pressure for a democratic election. Hamas immediately vowed never to recognize Israel and to never surrender their claim to all of Palestine. Qassam and Katusah rockets begin to rain down on Israel from the territories and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does practically nothing for nearly three weeks. Finally, Operation Just Reward is launched, but was ineffective in stopping Hezbollah rocket attacks.
TRUCE of November 26, 2006. Palestinians and Israelis announce a surprise truce that applied only to the Gaza strip. Olmert announces a new Israeli initiative offering peace. No peace followed.
Annapolis Conference, November 26-28, 2007. Palestinians and Israelis agree to renewed negotiations for a permanent status. The principle included Israeli withdrawal from occupied settlements, provision of military equipment to the PNA police, possible inclusion of the Temple Mount in an Arab-controlled annexation of Jerusalem, and recognition by the PNA of Israel’s right to existence and security. Result: Israel relinquished border crossings to the PNA in Gaza and the West Bank. Shipments of arms from Egypt into Gaza increase dramatically.
Israel Strikes Gaza… Feb. 27, 2008 in an attempt to stop weapons traffic and to destroy Hamas. The attempt ended with a truce on January 18th, 2009 when Israel, under pressure, declared a unilateral cease fire.
Since January, we have enjoyed President Obama’s pursed lips being given to the Islamic world in a speech made in Cairo. Then, ten days later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated a willingness for a certain level of recognition for a Palestinian state being created to exist side by side with Israel. Now the future:
There will not be true and lasting peace in Israel until the proper negotiations take place. For that to happen, a proper negotiator must take the lead. That negotiator will be the one and only Prince of Peace….Jesus, Yeshua, Yesu… the King of Kings. That will not happen for at least another seven years.
Stay tuned for PART Two of this article to find out what will happen next. Sorry to keep you waiting, but my fingers need a break.
Jimmy Root Jr
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