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A Christian house divided — a look at the Israel-Palestine debate

A Christian house divided — a look at the Israel-Palestine debate

Israeli settlementsThe United Nations has been scheduled to  vote on Palestine's request for statehood recognition on Friday, a request that is sharply criticized by fundamentalist Christian groups and Israeli and United States officials.  Haaretz reports, however, that the vote may be delayed by weeks due to a 'silent agreement' that exists among Western powers to act to postpone the Security Council vote.  Such a delay would open negotiations for an Israel-Palestine settlement.

Observer Status on the UN Could Open the Door for Palestinian Claims Against Israel Before the International Criminal Court.

Should a vote occur on Friday, the U.S. is likely to veto any Palestinian resolution at the U.N. Security Council, the first stage of the process. According to the Canada Free Press, "the United Nations General Assembly will almost certainly approve an upgrade of the status of the Palestinian Authority from nonvoting “observer entity” to “observer state,” placing it on par with the Holy See. This will happen whether or not the Palestinians try for full UN member state status, which would first require approval by the Security Council."

The United States has one vote in the General Assembly and cannot stop the General Assembly from granting observer state status to the Palestinians if they request it. The Canadian Free Press explains that such a status would open the door for the Palestinians to join various UN bodies and treaties and could allow the Palestinians to become a treaty member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and pursue claims against Israel for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Israel is not a member of the ICC, but the Court could still take jurisdiction of such claims if they are alleged to have arisen within the territory of a Palestinian state that is an ICC member.

UN General Assembly Members Accused of Having an "Immoral Majority."

Nations opposed to the recognition of a Palestinian state at this point say that Palestine is not organized or prepared to have a legitimate government.  Former ambassador to Israel, Dan Gillerman, sat down with Fox News on Sunday to say that he would be overjoyed to favor a Palestinian state but that it is a "no brainer" to not do so now.  "You do not create a state by making speeches or presenting resolutions," he said (see video below).

Gillerman opined that the UN General Assembly would vote in favor of a Palestinian state, but that the General Assembly members have an "immoral majority" in their opposition to Israel.  He likened the vote to the creation of a Disneyland state:

If  someone came and declared Disneyland a state, it would become a state tomorrow.  And you would have Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck run the world […] This is that block that is automatic against Israel […] We live in a world where speech-making is preferred over peace-making.

Gillerman believes that Palestinians will suffer as a result of a General Assembly vote recognizing it as a state.  He wants them to have a viable state through private negotiations. "There are two things you avoid doing publicly," he said. "Love making and peace making."

Gillerman thinks that President Obama enjoys credibility in the Arab world and that he has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to avert a train wreck and bring both sides together in quiet, discreet and successful negotiations.

Settlement Expansions and Borders.

In December, Human Rights Watch slammed Israel's treatment of Palestinian communities in the West Bank. The organization reported that Israel is using a two-tier system to promote illegal settlements, while deliberately stifling Palestinian development.

Last year, Al Jazeera reported that Israel was planning to build 50,000 more housing projects in East Jerusalem, threatening the  Palestinian neighborhoods that remain. Israeli officials say that the settlement expansion reports were exaggerated. The expansions have been condemned by the international community and criticized as an effort to push Palestinians out of Jerusalem.

This current debate goes back to the 1967 boundaries.

The wall dividing Israel and PalestineIn the 6-Day War in 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and annexed the old city of Jerusalem and surrounding Arab villages into what it calls Greater Jerusalem. Most countries do not recognize this annexation.

As The Economist explains (see video below), shortly before former President Bill Clinton left office, he suggested that Jerusalem be divided between Israel and Palestine.

In 2003, Israel began building a barrier between itself and the Palestinians, keeping out terrorists but also blocking the Arab parts of Jerusalem from the West Bank. Other groups have been building micro-settlements within the old city. Outside Greater Jerusalem, Israel wants to build more settlements, blocking in the Arab parts. Because of these building patterns, it is now nearly impossible to create a clear boundary between the Palestine and Israeli parts of Jerusalem.

Christian Right Believes that Israel Should Continue to Expand Beyond 1967 Border; That Palestinians Have No Rights to Jerusalem Property.

bible godAlthough 31% of Palestinians have been reportedly displaced by Israel's ever-expanding settlements, Mike Huckabee — then considered to be a probable GOP candidate for president — attended a groundbreaking ceremony for an Israeli construction project in February and said that Israel's expansions were a God-given freedom.

Former President George W. Bush declared that the borders should be negotiated based on the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities.  In March, President Obama said that Israel should recognize the 1967 boundaries, igniting anger from the religious right — with one even suggesting that the tornadoes that devastated Joplin, Missouri, were the result of God's anger with Obama.

The notion that God will punish America for not "standing up for Israel" is widespread among fundamentalist Christians.

Last week, Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee's son Matthew explained that believers in the Bible have an obligation to protect Israel and that America will be blessed if it supports Israel, but will be cursed if it does not do so. He said that Bible-believing Christians who are for Israel are not against Arab countries.

"The word of the Lord endures forever," he said. "If you bless Israel, God's blessing will be upon you."

Yesterday, John Hagee urged his followers to pray for Israel because "the State of Israel and the Jewish people are under fire." Hagee clams that the Palestinians want a one-state solution and that in that single state solution, Israel would not exist. He says that they were created in 1964 for the sole purpose of wiping out Israel. He warned,

I'm asking you to pray this week for the peace of Jerusalem. I am asking you to pray for our leaders in Washington, that they will have the courage to stand boldly by Israel because God is watching. Every nation that stands against Israel will come under the judgment of God. I assure you, God is recording the votes of the United Nations for a later day of reckoning, and I pray that America is not on that list.

Around 200 churches and synagogues throughout Texas and the southwest have announced their commitment to join One With Israel September 23-25 to "prove that Israel has great friends during these difficult times."

True, Bible-believing Christians do not support a Palestinian state, according to Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, the author of the Rose Guide to End-Times ProphecyJones writes,

Most Christians believe God's covenant with Abraham, particularly the Jewish people, is still in effect. In other words, God's promises millennia past supersede political land-for-peace agreements.

When it comes to how God fulfills his promises of land and blessings, evangelical Christians take a variety of viewpoints. These viewpoints fall into three main beliefs: Dispensationalism, Covenantalism, and New Covenantalism. By far, the majority of fundamentalist Christians fall into the first category which suggests that the Jews will possess the land promised to Abraham.

Because Christians view the land of Israel and the Jewish people as part of God's bigger end time plan, support for both the political as well as the covenantal "Israel" is strong.

Christian Support of a Palestinian State.

The Associated Press reports that in the Holy Land, a joint statement by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran priests urged the recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

The Vatican has remained neutral on the Palestinian statehood issue before the United Nations, the Energy Publisher observes, noting that more vocal Catholic priests have joined the Holy Land clerics in urging the recognition of Palestine.

Public Opinion Favors the Creation of a Palestinian State.

Newser reports that the majority of people worldwide support creation of a Palestinian state, citing survey results from 19 countries conducted in July and August. According to Newser,

Palestinian statehood was most strongly supported by Muslim countries and China, led by Egypt with 90% of respondents supporting and only 9% opposed. Turkey was 60% in support versus 19% opposed, and Pakistan supports the move 52% to 12%. China is also in favor 56% to 9%. The United States polled the highest rate against Palestinian statehood, but even there support outweighs opposition 45% to 36%. The lowest support came from India, where only 32% of people support Palestine and 25% are opposed. Across the EU, support was fairly consistent, with 54% of people supporting in France, 53% in Germany, and 53% in the UK.

About D.

  • Bigmo

    The decision to support Israel by political Christian groups is based on the perception of Jewish influence in US politcis. The religious argument are a cover to hide that influence. No Christians wround the world interprets the conflict the way Christian groups in America. And their view (Christian zionist) of Israel is exactly the same view as liberal members of congress who all support Israel to the teeth. Its always some justification or another but never Jewish influence and power in America.

    Who are you fooling?

  • Karen V

    It is not accurate that Obama said Israel should respect the 1967 borders. He said the 1967 borders with modifications negotiated to reflect current realities.

    The rapid settlement by Harredi families is intended to expand Israeli territory well into the Palestinian state. These settlers who often do not even believe in the State of Israel exacerbate tensions and make negotiation with the Palestinians, either now or when they get a more coherent government, close to impossible.

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