JERUSALEM and the 2-state solution

JERUSALEM and the 2-state solution

The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:12).

Undeniable truth: the current Gaza conflict between Jews and Arabs is founded on animosity that is millenia-long and history that is deeply complicated.

The current suffering of the residents of Gaza – and the Jewish families whose loved ones have been hostages for 5 months now – is unspeakably heartbreaking. 

And somewhere among the political knots and visceral rage, tangled in the hyperbole and partisan posturing is the Old City of Jerusalem – generally linked at some level to every Arab-Israeli dispute. 

The Jewish prophet Zechariah, living 5 centuries before Christ, proclaimed that Jerusalem would be the future capital of the Kingdom of God, and home to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac. And after a future eviction, the prophet predicted that the Jews would one last time, take back the City, never to be relinquished.

I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God (Zechariah 8:8).

Many contemporary observers have opined that if Israel would simply accede to a 2-state solution – with the Jews and Palestinians each having their own self-governed homeland within the land of Palestine and shared governance of the Holy City – then a wave of long-desired peace and tranquility would flood the Promised Land. 

However, the history of 2-state initiative tells a decidedly different story.

Jews began to pour into Palestine in the early decades of the 20th century. As a consequence, the British Peel Commission recommended the creation of both Jewish and Arab states within Palestine in 1937 – 11 years before the birth of modern-day Israel. The Commission made this observation: "though the Arabs have benefited by the development of the country owing to Jewish immigration, this has had no conciliatory effect. On the contrary, improvement in the economic situation in Palestine has meant the deterioration of the political situation".

Peel proposed the Jews be granted much of the Galilee region in the north and the Palestinian Arabs would possess and occupy most of the rest – the majority of land. Inside the Arab region would be an enclave including Jerusalem which would be managed under international control. 

Although significant opposition to the plan existed among the Jews in Palestine and in the US, it was decided that further consultation be undertaken before an official Jewish response was communicated.

However, such became irrelevant as the entire spectrum of Arabs promptly and flatly refused.

Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God’ (Zechariah 12:5).

The next attempt was introduced through the United Nations Partition Plan proposal of 1947. This bid, timed to be implemented with the conclusion of the British Mandate, saw the Jews being given 56% of the territory (but including large swaths of the Negev Desert), with the Arabs receiving 42%. The remaining 2% included Jerusalem which would again be under international control.

With significant ambivalence, the Jewish leaders accepted the plan, while the Arab Higher Committee representing Palestinian Arabs and the Arab League speaking for six Arab neighboring nations again rejected the proposal. Furthermore, a refusal to accept any form of territorial division was officially affirmed by the Arab representatives.

Israel declared independence and statehood on May 14, 1948. The surrounding Arab nations attacked the fledgling Jewish nation the next day.

Two decades later, Israel shocked the world by winning the 3-front 1967 war with the Arabs. What was historic and incredible is this: the Jewish state concluded the war after only 6 days, doing so in the face of intense international pressure after their resounding and decisive victory.

And, as a result of the Six-Day War, the City of Jerusalem – for the first time in over 2000 years – was firmly within Israeli control.

This is what the LORD says: "I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth” (Zechariah 8:3).

Subsequently, the Arab League met in Sudan in September of 1967 concluding their official position post-war as framed in 3 “Nos”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of the Jewish state, and no further negotiation.

In the year 2000, U.S. President Bill Clinton hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Nasser Arafat at Camp David. The goal: creation of a two-state plan.

Again, the city of Jerusalem was fundamental to the discussions.

Barak offered Arafat a Palestinian state which would include Gaza and most of the West Bank. Surprising to many observers – and against the advice of many Jewish voices – the Israeli PM offered the PLO leader custodial administration of portions of East Jerusalem including the Temple Mount, and the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City.

But the offer was rejected. Speaking much later, Clinton conceded, “Arafat was here 14 days and said no to everything…I regret that in 2000 Arafat missed the opportunity to bring that nation into being.”

The Palestinian response, unsurprisingly, was to launch a horrific wave of violence on Jewish targets, including suicide bombings.

The repeated cycle of failure brings to mind a rather cynical observation by former Prime Minister Golda Meir (1969-74). Her conditioned conclusion was that comprehensive, lasting peace with the Arabs in any form “could not be settled by compromise—they want us dead. We have decided to stay alive.” 

What is important for 21st century observers to understand – and the record is well-chronicled – is that over the course of the now 76-year history of Israel, multiple plans and proposals for peace have been formulated.

All have failed. These include the Oslo Accords of 1993 and the Gaza Disengagement of 2005.

Then in 2008, after 36 sessions of negotiation, a comprehensive plan for peace known as the Ehud Olmert Offer was made optimistically by the Israeli PM to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jerusalem would be shared city, and the official capital of the new Palestinian State. This offer too was rejected.

PM Olmert has since recounted to journalists, “I told him, ‘Remember my words, it will be 50 years before there will be another Israeli prime minister that will offer you what I am offering you now. Don’t miss this opportunity.'”

But the current war has seen anti-Zionism morph into anti-Semitism on a global scale.

Will it be increasingly hazardous to simply be a Jew – whether in the Holy Land or the diaspora? Canadian Jewish pundit Barbara Kay touched on that potential reality at a recent speech: “Our kids should be reassured that protesters can scream ‘free Palestine’ and ‘from the river to the sea’ into the faces of Jews until they are blue in their own faces. It is purely performative…Hopefully this knowledge can help them to ignore the antisemitic heat and take comfort from the statutory light.

Takeaway: The Holy City will – according to prophets like Zechariah and ultimately as predicted by the Lord Jesus – be at the nexus of events concluding this current phase of human history.

And, although pivotal to any peace negotiation – in the past and continuing into the future – Jerusalem will be in Jewish hands when the Messiah returns.

Christ will be predominant in those extraordinary events, returning to liberate Jerusalem and finally be embraced by the Hebrew people.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zechariah 12:10).

On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south (Zechariah 14:4).

About Us

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28 The community at Bethel includes a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Young and old, families and singles, English-speakers and those with a French mother-tongue, various ethnic and religious backgrounds. We reflect the make up of the city of North Bay. More importantly though, we are a group of people who Jesus has saved through his work on the cross. By God's plan of redemption we were all brought into one family as brothers and sisters in Christ, given a mission to reach into our world and make disciples for Him. We hope you will find at Bethel a friendly, loving group of people striving to live for Jesus Christ. Whether you are visiting for the day or trying to find a permanent church home, you are welcome to join us as we together seek out Him.