I recently read the following article about the Middle East peace process. It was written by a friend who is a Jewish Christian living in Israel. Ron is an assistant pastor at a church in Jerusalem and a missionary voice for Christ in the Holy Land. I agree with his assessment about the peace process and thought his perspective would be interesting for whoever reads this blog. You can find out more about his ministry at http://cantorlink.com/
Annapolis, Shamapolis or Can Anything Good Come out of Annapolis?
A Brief Analysis of the Middle East Conference in Annapolis
By Ron Cantor
“It’s not right to negotiate with the Palestinians when they are firing rockets at us every day.” (jpost.com) This quote by Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of Israel Beiteinu (Israel, our Home) political party and the minister of strategic affairs in the Olmert cabinet, pretty much sums up my position. Aside from the biblical admonitions of carving up God’s land (Joel 3:2 – read it!) and the judgment that comes upon those who insist upon it, the idea of giving into the demands of the “kings of the earth” (Psalms 2:2) is ludicrous from even a human standpoint.
Even my daughters understand this concept. Just the other day Yael (15) came to me, offering to massage my shoulders, telling me how much she loved me…in no time I was agreeing to do for her whatever she wanted…and she definitely wanted something – I just can’t remember what. However, had she come to me with insults and curses, seeking to hurt me physically, it is highly unlikely she would have received anything from me other than punishment. Since the infamous handshake between former Prime Minister Rabin and that chameleon, Yassar Arafat, the Palestinian leadership has done little to cause Israel to believe that they genuinely want to co-exist peacefully with us.
- We gave them Gaza and they repay us with a continuous onslaught of Kassam rockets on our southern cities.
- We release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and they kidnap ours.
- In the mid-nineties we developed economic partnerships between Jewish and Arab cities in the West Bank, and they sent suicide bombers into the very markets we established for them.
- They have never changed their charter that calls for the destruction of Israel.
- The Palestinian people elected Hamas, one of the worlds most infamous terror groups, to lead them in their parliament (although that was probably more a reaction against the corruption in the Palestinian Authority than it was a vote of confidence for Hamas. I don’t think Hamas will win again, as Palestinians prefer corruption to being beheaded).
My point is this: With each agreement, summit, meeting, or conference between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, both parties come away with a list of obligations. Israel fulfills hers for the most part and the Palestinians rarely do anything. This is why a majority of Israelis saw the Annapolis conference as a joke; another failure in long list of fruitless gatherings. Even left-leaning Israelis have become quite skeptical that the Palestinian leadership truly wants peace with Israel, and if they do, that they have the power to enforce peace upon their people.
Gaza, as was predicted before the disengagement, has become Hamas-controlled. Lieberman remarked that, “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is as much a representative of the Palestinians as he himself is a representative of the Norwegians” (jpost.com)—meaning that he is powerless to implement any agreement that he makes with Israel.
And this is why Annapolis was not much more than a photo op for politicians. Most Israeli ministers have finally arrived at the place where they will not give up any more land or concessions before the Palestinians prove that they can govern that land. Internal Security Minister (and former Mossad chief) Avi Dichter, a key ally of Prime Minister Olmert, “stressed that Israel should not engage in negotiations over core issues before it has made sure that ‘the Palestinians were keeping their end of the bargain, by fighting terror and establishing a proper law enforcement system.’” (jpost.com)
Another minister, Shaul Mofaz, said that that Israel should not negotiate with the Palestinians over central issues until they enforce the rule of law over the territory that they presently govern – including Hamas-controlled Gaza. This is what opposition leader and former Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has been saying for years. Reciprocity! Reciprocity is a trade term meaning that each side gives up something of equal value. Up until now, Israel has been doing all the giving. He says that Israel should give nothing more until the Palestinians fulfill their obligations under past agreements. Who can argue with that?
For example: Imagine that I tell one of my daughters, “Clean your room before you go out with your friends.” I check and find out that she did not clean her room and went out anyway. Imagine that there is no consequence. There is no punishment. It happens again and again. I keep letting her do whatever she wants despite the fact that she never does what I ask of her. Is this any way to raise a child? Am I teaching her anything about responsibility or respect? Yet this is how Israel has been pressured by the international community to deal with the Palestinians… and that is why most Israelis would agree with me by saying Annapolis, Shamapolis.
So weak was the Annapolis conference that the only agreement they arrived at, was that they agreed that they would later come to an agreement (by the end of 2008). Both sides are expected to immediately implement their obligations under the infamous Road Map. This is good news for those Israelis who don’t want to see a Palestinian state, as they know the Palestinians never fulfill their obligations and thus, even the agreement to come to an agreement will be null and void.
Can Anything Good Come out of Annapolis?
There is one thing good that came from Annapolis. For the first time ever, many Arab states are more terrified of something other than the idea of a Jewish state. And that is the creation of a radical Islamic Middle East. Iran was furious that her new friend Syria attended this conference. Despite her connections to Hezbollah and Iran, even Syria understands that the goal of radical Islam is to destroy secular Arab states like herself and set up Islamo-fascist states like Iran and formerly Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. It is possible that President Bush is seeking to create a collection of moderate Arab states. He is seeking to woo states like Saudi Arabia and Syria into embracing more moderate positions, telling them that it is either this – or “you are on your own against Al Queda and Hezbollah.”
Israeli Messianic leader Asher Intrater wisely points out that, “Most Israeli political commentators see this conference not so much as a peace effort between Israel and the Palestinians, but as an effort by the Bush administration to gather a coalition of moderateArab national leaders to stand together with them … against radical Islamic extremists that threaten their own regimes as well. Ahmadinajad is reported as having made angry phone calls, both to Saudi Arabia and to Syria, for their cooperation with this conference.”
While I have written this report from a mostly political or pragmatic point of view there can be no doubt that the Middle East is ever the tempest that it has always been. We know from scripture that the world will always seek to control Jerusalem, but the Lord will have the last laugh as He installs His King in Zion (Psalm 2:4-6). She will be the praise of the earth (Isaiah 62:7) and the nations will stream to her to worship the King (Zech. 14:16). There will be war first (Ezekiel 38-39; Zech 12), but in the end Yeshua will reign over all the earth (Zech 14:9).