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Christian leaders around the world need to wake up and take notice of a rising new threat to Mideast security: the leaders of the Palestinian people are planning to go to the U.N. General Assembly this September and unilaterally declare their state in the “pre-1967 war borders,” and a dangerous momentum of international political support for this plan is growing.
Should the Palestinians proceed with their plans, growing evidence suggests they will receive an overwhelming majority vote at the U.N. in favor of dividing the land of Israel and dividing the city of Jerusalem. Indeed, a steadily growing number of countries around the world are signaling that they are ready to recognize a Palestinian state that includes all of the West Bank, all of Gaza, and at least half of Jerusalem as its capital. However, by making a unilateral declaration, the Palestinians will have chosen to refuse all negotiations with the Israelis. They will have chosen to abandon all diplomacy. They will have chosen to reject concessions and compromise. And they will have chosen to reject giving Israel the assurances of peace and security that the Jewish people so eagerly want. Even though Israel has given the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, withdrawn from southern Lebanon, withdrawn from Gaza, and offered even more sweeping concessions to Palestinian negotiators in recent years — indeed, far more sweeping than I personally am comfortable with — the Palestinian leadership continues to say “no, no, no,” just as they did after the June 1967 war when they issued their famous “Three Noes” declaration from Khartoum: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.”
“We want to generate pressure on Israel to make it feel isolated and help it understand that there can be no talks without a stop to settlements,” Nabil Shaath, who leads the foreign affairs department of Fatah, the main party of the Palestinian Authority, told the New York Times. “Without that, our goal is membership in the United Nations General Assembly in September.”
As I first warned in a detailed column on the subject last December, this is a very dangerous development. If the Palestinians make a unilateral declaration of what they want, what will stop Israel from unilaterally declaring what they want? What if the Palestinians try to forcibly evict the Jews living in the West Bank? Those Jews would certainly fight back. Would the Israeli military move to defend the Jewish settlers? Would Palestinian security forces then fire upon the Israeli forces? Would the U.N. move into to condemn and isolate Israel, and even impose draconian economic sanctions on the Jewish state? Events could spiral out of control. Indeed, the likelihood is that far more violence — not peace — would result by such a Palestinian declaration of statehood outside the context of negotiations with Israel. Still, one country after another around the world is encouraging the Palestinian leadership to go in this direction and promising to publicly support them at the U.N. this fall. Some believe that after a big victory in the U.N. General Assembly, a resolution will later be brought before the U.N. Security Council to ratify the legal status of the newly declared state.
On Tuesday, Israeli President Shimon Peres met with President Obama at the White House. Initial reports suggest they discuss the stalled peace process and how to proceed. I hope that behind closed doors Peres was very clear and direct with Obama about what a dangerous road the Palestinians are on. Indeed, Prime Minister Netanyahu has continually offered direct negotiations with the Palestinians, yet the Palestinians keep refusing to sit down and talk face to face. They claim Netanyahu isn’t serious about making peace or new concessions. Yet Netanyahu was the first Israeli leader ever to give land to Yasser Arafat when he gave away Hebron in 1997. I pray that Peres conveyed to the American President what Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last month: “We are facing a diplomatic-political tsunami that the majority of the public is unaware of and that will peak in September. It is a very dangerous situation, one that requires action….Paralysis, rhetoric, inaction will deepen the isolation of Israel.” An isolated Israel is not likely to feel secure enough to make peace with the Palestinians. What’s more, when Israel’s enemies (like Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas) see Israel increasingly isolated, they are more likely to launch a new war.
Publicly, the Obama administration says it opposes the Palestinian plan to unilaterally declare. But there is growing concern among pro-Israel leaders in Washington that should the issue come before the U.N. Security Council, Obama might direct his U.N. ambassador to abstain rather than to veto such a resolution.
Jesus Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9) Those who truly seek peace will encourage diplomacy, not rash, arrogant, unilateral actions on either side. Sadly, there are far too many leaders in the epicenter who do not seek true peace, and too many leaders around the world who are encouraging reckless behavior.
Bible prophecy makes it clear that the nations of the world will, in the last days, divide up the land of Israel. But the Scriptures are also crystal clear that the nations will face the judgment of Almighty God for doing so. “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat ["the Lord judges"]. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.” (Joel 3:1-2).
Let the nations be warned by the God of Israel: they are on a dangerous and disastrous road. I pray they will turn around before it is too late.
- New York Times: UN Vote on Palestinian State Could Force Israel’s Hand
- Weekly Standard: Bibi’s Choice — How Israel should handle pressure for a Palestinian state
- Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: The Palestinian UN Gamble – Irresponsible and Ill-Advised
- Haaretz: Obama: Changes in Mideast make Israel-Palestinian peace more urgent than ever — Peres spoke after meeting with the U.S. president in Washington, where the two leaders discussed the impact of recent Mideast turmoil on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- FLASHBACK — December 29, 2010 column: Serious and rising threat to Israel: Unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state by summer 2011