So…have you read the news lately? If so, what you have heard is that Secretary of State John Kerry has been working to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. But to understand it, we must go way back in time to when this all started! If you recall, God called Abram (later named “Abraham”) out of Ur of the Chaldeans to the Promised Land, and Abraham became the father of the Jews. In Genesis 12:1-3, God made a 7-fold promise to Abram, including making him a great nation and blessing all the families of the earth through him.
In Genesis 15, God cut a covenant with Abram, promising a large land to his descendents. However, in chapter 16, the train ran off the rails! Though God had promised descendents through which the promises would be fulfilled, Abram and his wife, Sarai, were getting old and had no kids! Therefore, they decided to “help God out!” Bad move!
Sarai offered up her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to Abram and Hagar bore Abram’s first son, Ishmael. Later, Isaac, the son of promise, came miraculously through Sarai just as God had promised. (Genesis 21) We’ll have to fill in some history as we go along, but suffice it to say that, at this point, things did not go so well! There was a bit of rivalry that began here. Moreover, the rivalry was re-ignited with the birth of Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau! (Genesis 25)
The people groups of Israelites and Arabs descended from these patriarchs and the rivalry grew from there! Battles have been fought between the two people groups and it is no different today. So, let’s apply those tidbits to what we see today!
The definition of “Palestine” and “Palestinians” has changed over the course of history, but today “Palestinian” refers primarily to Arab people living in Israel (mostly in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip). For the most part, Palestinians are outcast from most Arab countries. None wish to take them in. Thus, they have found a home in Israel…but they are rivals by historical nature!
Lord willing, we’ll get around to enough history to help us understand that the land of Israel belongs to Israel. But for now, suffice it to say that the Palestinians occupy a large chunk of Israel, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Here’s a map to help with perspective. The areas shaded white are the Gaza Strip (to the south, on the Mediterranean coast), the West Bank (central Israel), and the Golan Heights (to the north…not occupied by Palestinians, but a buffer zone with Syria and occupied by Israelis).
So, what do the Palestinians want?
- More territory
- No Jewish state (they refuse to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish homeland)
- Jerusalem as their capital
What does Israel want?
- Peace (throughout history they have traded land, promised by God, for peace)
- Acknowledgement of Israel as a Jewish state
- Jerusalem to remain their capital
And what are the sticking points?
- Israel continues developing settlements in areas the Palestinians claim as theirs. (As prophesied, Jews are returning to Israel by the thousands and need places to live.)
- The Palestinians refuse to acknowledge a “two state” solution. Though they demand statehood, they refuse to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state.
- Despite Israel’s release of over 70 known Palestinian terrorist prisoners (as agreed), the Palestinians refuse to return to the peace talks.
Hopefully you get a sense of the tension. In my next post I’ll try to provide some additional insight, including what Israel is apparently willing to put on the table.
Check back soon for more. Meanwhile, here is a picture of a controversial new Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, and an Arab settlement near the City of David.