More Israeli Airstrikes and a New Palestinian Capital City?

Keeping up with, and understanding, developments in the Middle East is never an easy task, but more and more intriguing happenings beg for attention in the news!

The Times of Israel is reporting a second round of Israeli airstrikes near Damascus in the past 3 days.  After hitting a military base thought to be occupied by Iranian soldiers and equipment on Friday night, the IAF (Israeli Air Force) reportedly attacked a Syrian military installation on Monday night, thought to include a scientific research center and weapons warehouses.

Interestingly, Monday night’s target is supposedly the same site attacked by Israeli aircraft in January 2013 when Israel took out convoys of Russian-made SA-17 missiles enroute to Hezbollah.

Once more we are reminded that Israel is seeing “red lines” crossed and, true to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promises, Israel will not sit silent while enemies bent on the destruction of Israel set up camp on Israel’s border.

Meanwhile, on the Palestinian front, very interesting news is coming out of Saudi Arabia, regarding the Palestinian peace plan.  The New York Times apparently broke a story indicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presented a plan to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, seemingly slanted toward Israeli interests.  For example, the proposal supposedly grants the Palestinians a state of their own, but with the capital in Abu Dis (in the West Bank).

That is sure to draw criticism from those supporting a divided Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.  Most Israeli “settlements” in the West Bank would remain, and there would be no right of return for Palestinian “refugees.”

Even more interestingly, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, reveals a totally different Saudi position: “the Kingdom remains committed to a settlement based on the Arab peace initiative of 2002, including East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. To suggest otherwise is false.”

The White House has denied the Crown Prince’s stated conditions, leaving the world to wonder who is pulling the strings and what cat and mouse games are being played behind the scenes.  Is the Saudi Crown Prince simply cozying up and taking his position in the alliance between Israel and the US?  Is he pre-empting American peace plans in order to establish himself as a leader in the Middle East?  Is Abbas feeling so much pressure due to his weakening political position that he is shifting focus from his sliding popularity to make it look like he is being pressured by the Saudis?

Add to the mix that President Trump is expected to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a speech tomorrow.  Now we’ve got the recipe for increased tension in the Middle East, with nations forced to “pick a side.”  The battle lines may soon become very clear.

Peace in the Middle East is an unrealistic goal.  The last days will not be days of peace (other than in hearts where the Prince of Peace dwells!)  Rather, they will be days of “wars and rumors of wars,” along with all sorts of other calamities.  We would do well to keep our eyes on Damascus, while keeping our hope fixed on the Author and Perfecter of our faith! (Hebrews 12:2)

Why eyes on Damascus?  Isaiah 17:1 tells us Damascus will be utterly destroyed in the last days, and it is hanging on a thread it seems.  Once Damascus falls, the dam could break, making way for the full-on invasion of Israel from the north.

Regardless of the chaos we see in the world, our noses should be to the grindstone…being about our Father’s business.  Whether by rapture or death, our time on this earth is short.  Let’s make the most of it before our Bridegroom comes to escort us home!

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