Will the latest Middle East peace plan succeed? Or will it prove to be like all other manmade solutions—noble intentions that ultimately fail?
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Bombings—shootings—assassinations—death threats—kidnappings—military strikes. Since its creation as a sovereign, independent state in 1948, the nation of Israel has long struggled for peace, yet it continues to be plagued by violence and turmoil.
For decades, all eyes have looked to the Oval Office to solve disputes anciently rooted in thousands of years of hatred and strife. Time and again, United States presidents have stepped onto the world stage, each offering his own vision of how to establish permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. Yet, these same well-intentioned leaders have since passed into the pages of history—and so have their failed solutions for peace.
In April 2002, President George W. Bush unveiled the latest Middle East peace plan: “A performance-based roadmap to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Diplomats and journalists refer to it as “the roadmap to peace.”
Devised by the U.S., the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, the roadmap is a three-phase blueprint designed to reach a peaceful settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians by 2005. The plan (explained in the informational graphic below) contains a step-by-step process calling for both parties to take certain actions to reach its eventual objective: The creation of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, peaceably existing side-by-side with the nation of Israel.
In order for the roadmap to reach its ultimate goal, several roadblocks must be overcome. Otherwise, this current peace plan has no real chance for success.
• Terrorism and violence: The roadmap requires Palestinian authorities to stop militants from planning and committing acts of terrorism and violence against the Israeli people. So far, the Palestinian prime minister has been relying on persuasion to do this, while Israel calls for him to take action, such as making arrests. Until then, Israel refuses to withdraw from Palestinian towns.
Fueling suicide bombings and other murders are three militant Palestinian groups: Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Founded in 1988, Hamas is the largest of the three, and has carried out terrorist attacks against both military and civilian Israeli targets. They oppose the peace plan, claiming that the roadmap is only a trick to get Palestinian militias into laying down their arms. Also, while the roadmap offers a two-state solution for peace, Hamas (which means “zeal”) is dedicated to the creation of a single, Islamic state—including all of Israel, along with the West Bank and Gaza.
Inspired by the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Islamic Jihad is cloaked in secrecy. This group believes that peace with Israel is impossible, and claims that the mere existence of a Jewish state amounts to surrendering lands that rightfully belong to the Palestinian people. Like Hamas, the Islamic Jihad has ordered numerous suicide bombings, as well as attacks against Israeli military targets and security officials.
The third group, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, splintered off from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement. It calls for the removal of Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Publicly disavowed by Fatah for its violent actions, al-Aqsa has carried out suicide attacks against Israeli citizens.
“Ending terror and violence, normalizing Palestinian life, and building Palestinian Institutions”
• Acknowledge Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.
• Call for immediate and unconditional ceasefire to all acts of violence, terrorism and incitement against Israelis.
• Arrest, disrupt and restrain individuals and groups from planning and carrying out violent attacks against Israel.
• Undergo government reforms in preparation for independent statehood. Includes drafting a constitution, appointing an empowered interim prime minister, and holding open democratic elections.
• Affirm its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state.
• Call for an immediate end to violence and end acts of incitement against Palestinians.
• Take all necessary steps to help normalize Palestinian life.
• Withdraw troops from Palestinian areas held since Sept. 28, 2000.
• Freeze all construction of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories and begin dismantling those built since March 2001.
Timeframe: Originally intended to take place by May 2003
• Palestinian leadership must decisively act against terror, and be able and willing to build a practicing democracy.
• Progress will be based upon the consensus judgment of the Quartet (the U.S., EU, UN and Russia) of whether conditions are appropriate to proceed, taking into account the performance of both parties.
• New constitution for democratic, independent Palestinian state is finalized and approved. Arab states restore pre-intifada links to Israel, such as trade offices.
• Revive talks regarding regional water resources, environment, economic development, refugees, and arms control issues.
• Formally establish an empowered reform cabinet with the office of prime minister, consistent with a draft constitution.
• The Quartet will promote international recognition of a Palestinian state, including possible UN membership.
• Phase II ends with the possible creation of an independent Palestinian state, with provisional borders.
Timeframe: June-December, 2003
“Permanent status agreement and end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”
• Reform and stabilize Palestinian institutions, and establish Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at a permanent status agreement in 2005.
• Talks convened by the Quartet, in consultation with Israel and the Palestinians, concerning finalized borders between the two states; the status of Jerusalem (which is claimed by both sides as their capital); right of return for Palestinian refugees; and the status of Jewish settlements.
• Parties reach final and permanent status agreement, ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and ending the occupation that began in 1967. Includes “an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue, and a negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account the political and religious concerns of both sides, and protects the religious interests of Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide, and fulfills the vision of two states, Israel and…Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.”
• Arab states’ acceptance of full normal relations with Israel and security for all the states of the region.
Source: CTV News, BBC
Last June, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad declared a three-month ceasefire—yet, both groups later claimed responsibility for an August 19th bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed 20 people, including six children. Days later, Israel responded by killing a senior Hamas official, then four more in an additional response almost immediately following.
As of this writing, both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have ended their ceasefire.
• Fear, doubt and suspicion: The last three years of continuous bombings, shootings and other acts of terrorism and aggression have claimed thousands of lives. A chasm of distrust, doubt and suspicion has greatly widened between the two sides.
Even among the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, various factions harbor their own ideas of how to bring about peace—and some involve the total destruction of the opposing side!
For the roadmap to succeed, both sides—and all parties within them—must set aside all fears, doubts, personal grudges and thoughts of revenge.
Now consider: It has been said that in the entirety of man’s history, there have only been about 100 years of peace—just 100 years in which a battle or war did not take place somewhere on earth. A quick browse of today’s national and international news headlines paints a picture of a world still mired in war, hatred, aggression and violence.
When you take into account the past and the present, what are the chances that any plan could establish lasting peace in the immediate future—especially between ancient enemies committed to claiming the same land, even to the death?
• Land settlements: Outnumbered by three million Palestinians, some 200,000 Jewish settlers live in about 150 settlement outposts in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Palestinians, and the international community at large, regard these settlements as illegal under international law, according to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.”
The Palestinians view such outposts as attempts to expand Israeli settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Believing that all such settlements are an illegal trespass on their land, the Palestinians claim that stopping all Israeli settlement construction is critical to the roadmap’s success.
However, Israel argues that this law does not apply to the Jewish settlements, since the West Bank and Gaza are not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state.
Even the Israelis are divided over what to do about these settlements. The vast majority believe that the Jews have a historical claim to the land. In a recent survey, BBC News reported that 43% of Israelis believed that settlers should resist a government order to evacuate—last year, the number was 12% (Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace). On the other hand, many Israelis debate whether, in return for peace, they should remove the outposts and surrender the land to the Palestinians.
Results from an April 2003 public opinion poll conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace:
• 55% of Palestinians and 61% of Israelis support the roadmap for peace.
• 39% of Palestinians and 35% of Israelis oppose the peace plan.
• 71% of Palestinians support a mutual ceasefire, while 27% oppose it.
• Under conditions of a mutual ceasefire, 50% of the Palestinians would support taking measures against those who would continue to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians; 45% oppose doing so.
• 57% of Palestinians support, in the absence of a mutual ceasefire, armed Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel; 40% oppose it.
• More than 90% of Palestinians support attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers.
• Two-thirds of Palestinians believe that armed confrontations have helped achieve Palestinian rights in ways that negotiations could not.
• 38% of Palestinians and 24% of Israelis would support deploying international forces, if necessary, into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in order to force both peoples to accept and implement the roadmap. (An additional 9% of Palestinians would support it only if the forces were European. An additional 13% of Israelis would support it if these are American forces, and only 3% support it if the forces are to be European.)
• 48% of Palestinians and 58% of Israelis support deployment of any international force.
• 65% of Palestinians and 77% of Israelis support reconciliation between both peoples after a peace agreement is reached, and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by the state of Israel.
For now, Israel has determined to dismantle only those outposts deemed unnecessary for the nation’s security.
• Religious differences: In the same survey, nearly 40% of Jewish settlers who choose to live in the occupied territories do so because of religious convictions. One settler called it “a God-given right to settle any part of the land.”
On the other side, the Palestinians are just as convinced that the land belongs to them—all of it, according to militants.
History has shown that many (if not most) of the longest, most devastating wars have been caused or fueled by religion and single-minded, uncompromising religious fervor.
• The West Bank “security fence”: Begun in the West Bank in June 2002, the structure, which is part wall/part fence, consists of razor wire, a ditch on one side (about 13 feet wide) and electronic sensors. When construction is finished, the structure’s total length will extend several hundred miles.
Israel claims that the fence will prevent potential suicide bombers from entering Israel and attacking civilians. But the Palestinians see it as a bid to pre-empt negotiations on the final borders of the yet-to-be-established Palestinian state.
• The right of return: Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled Israel due to decades of endless fighting and Jewish expansion. Israeli law prohibits them from re-entering Israel. But the Palestinians claim their right to return as refugees, citing UN Resolution 194: “Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practical date.”
Diplomats, politicians, government officials, journalists and others “in the know” are aware of these and other barriers to the roadmap. However, there is one particular roadblock that escapes their attention. In fact, few—if any—ever stop to consider it.
Of all the obstacles that will block this and all other peace plans from working, there is one that is most overlooked and least understood—yet it is basic to the very core of human nature. Described in the Holy Bible, this particular roadblock is the ROOT of every act of war, violence and aggression known to man:
“From where come wars and fightings among you? Come they not here, even of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: You kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: You fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts” (Jms. 4:1-3).
All wars, battles, riots and fights come from one thing: Uncontrolled carnal lust to possess what belongs to other people—land, money, power, etc. It is as simple as that.
When left unchecked, such wanton lust will drive people to do anything to get what they desperately want. ANYTHING—lie, cheat, steal, and even commit murder!
This is the reason for the many suicide bombings, massacres and other horrendous acts in the land of Israel—and throughout the world—and why they will continue! As long as human beings allow themselves to be consumed and driven by their carnal nature, peace will always remain just beyond man’s reach. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news: There is a peace plan that actually works! It existed long before man ever came into existence, and will soon be implemented among every nation on earth. It will bring true, lasting peace. You can learn more about it in our free booklet How World Peace Will Come!