Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan - Unveiled
“For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land. Joel 3:1-2
The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: 2 “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. 3 And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. Zechariah 12:1-3.
I recently wrote two articles, one specifically addressing Trump’s peace deal and the other (review of sorts) relates to news items I collated for my weekly news update. The latter I mentioned that “Netanyahu has twice been evacuated from a campaign event after a rocket attack” (during and after the second election) and that “Israel is now on its third election in less than 12 months…. This is not a coincidence - something is happening or about to happen.” Something has happened and more. The long-awaited “Deal of the Century” was unveiled last week even though the administration had previously decided to release the political portion of its plan, to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after the Israeli elections. There are reams of articles, analysis and opinions from the secular and the “Christian” media and as such this is not a detailed analysis, rather my thoughts.
After the White House press conference given by President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I was surprised by the positive reaction and the support for the deal by evangelical/prophetic ministries and shaking my head in disbelief, I immediately wanted to write and express the concerns I had. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable by what I was hearing that I decided to read the document myself, the 181 pages. Thankfully, in my previous job I had to review large documents, so I was more than prepared to take the time to read it. However, by the time I reached the first 20 pages, my concerns were confirmed. Coincidentally, after reading these pages I came across Pastor Andy Wood’s YouTube video in which he reviewed the document with another Pastor. I was delighted with his review because he concentrated on the pages I was reading and raised the same concerns I had. I quietly thank the Lord. Others like John Haller, JD Farag (very funny and passionate), and Pastor Brandon Holthaus of Rock Harbour Church, followed suit.
The release of this deal at this time is very significant because it was forced upon them to do so now as circumstances worked against them. They had no choice but to realise the peace initiative before the Israeli elections and I don’t think it is a coincidence that two largest parties twice failed to form a government. To understand this, you have to understand that Israel and Jerusalem are vitally important to God, you cannot disengage what is happening now from the biblical narrative, that the Jews are His Chosen People and that Jerusalem and the rest of the land is His Land. This is why I believe that this deal could not be actioned or endorsed by Netanyahu while he was still in power. For we now know that he approves the deal and furthermore his opposition leader, Benny Gantz, who supports a two-state solution, was unable to form a unity party with Netanyahu or the Arab Parties. Netanyahu has never been consisted on his views regarding two state solution, he continuously accepted the concept of creating a Palestinian state in 2009, but during his 2015 election campaign when asked directly “whether no Palestinian state would be created under his leadership, the prime minister answered: “Indeed.” A year after the 2015 election he told the Knesset that he was in favour of two-state solutions with conditions and mocked an opposition leader when he said “a negotiated two-state solution was not currently possible debate”, Netanyahu replied “It seems you are the last to realize the reality.” So, there is no doubt in my mind that this is his favoured position. But it needed the right environment for the Israelis, and for Trump he needed his conservative and Christian voters to endorse such a deal and that’s how the “art of the deal” was executed, as Trump puts it is a “win-win” solution for peace. The right environment started with moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, which is a big deal, but much later I became uncomfortable with the constant diet of excessive praise bestowed upon Trump by Netanyahu. While Trump galvanised his supporters by praising himself for what he has done for Israel. Everything that’s been said in the linked articles is true and yes he has been “good for Israel”, which is fantastic. No one disputes the extraordinary actions he has taken, but could this have been the agenda all along. There is no doubt, though, that Trump has been the catalyst to change the "status quo" of Israel and the Middle East.
I have to say, just in case you are wondering, I am not anti-Trump or anti-Netanyahu, quite the contrary. I applaud him for what he has done and I am disgusted with the level of abuse against him and his supporters by the mainstream media. But I also have my concerns like the trade deals with China and USMCA, his actions in Syria concerning the Kurds and creating uncertainty for Israel by risking a potential Iranian presence along the Golan northern border, his appeasement of Turkey and North Korea's “rocket man” and, now the Middle East Peace Plan.
I have always liked and admired Netanyahu specially for his stance against Iran but like Trump he has made a huge mistake by entertaining the idea of dividing again the little land that Israel has left. However, over the years his governments has made mistakes like allowing Chinese companies to take over key strategic infrastructure, a country that has close relationship with two of its enemies, Iran and North Korea. Israel has also allowed thousands of Palestinians to obtain work permits to work in Israel reportedly as a concession, following an agreement with Hamas. Finally, “there are parallels between the two leaders” as both are facing politically motivated charges.
On 23rd January, during a visit to Jerusalem, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announces the White House plans to release its plan for peace in the Middle East. There was some confusion as to whether Gantz will attend the White House press conference with Netanyahu but for me both these events were significant. Firstly, Israelis will now know what the deal is. Secondly, they now know that the two leaders will accept the deal. Lastly, in the event that the election results are split, again, between Netanyahu and Gantz, there is the possibility of a unity government, reinvigorated by the White House, to support the peace initiative. The threat of failure will be great for Netanyahu because his usual coalition partners, mainly the right-wing parties, do not support the two-state solution, and to complicate the situation even more 250,000 Arab Israeli voters (Arab citizens of Israel) have been demonstrating against the deal. So, the likelihood that either Netanyahu or Gantz will win an election is highly unlikely unless they form a unity government.
The Collapse of the Israeli Government and the Elections
On 14 November 2018 Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned after a sharp disagreement over the Gaza ceasefire deal and withdrew his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, from the ruling coalition with Netanyahu’s party, which triggered an election in April 2019. Initially, he had opposed a draft law (supported by the ultra-Orthodox parties) which would allow full-time Torah students exemptions from serving in the IDF.
Since then there has been two elections in April and September 2019 and another scheduled for March 2020. Twice the Trump Administration had to cancel announcing the Middle East Peace Plan due to the Israeli elections. After the failure of the last election, the Trump Administration were forced to unveil the “Peace to Prosperity” economic plan in June 2019 and address the political plan i.e. the land proposal separately. If Netanyahu had managed to form a government after the two elections, Trump could depend on Netanyahu to sign the deal but opposition came from Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, that are committed to a two-state solution. Gantz’s plan was to form a minority government with any parties (except Likud, unless they nominate a party leader to replace Netanyahu) including the Arab Parties, known for their support of terrorists. Even a proposed unity government, to avoid a third election, between Netanyahu and Gantz, collapsed too. The latter could not agree who should govern first as Netanyahu’s was facing the possibility of indictment. So, it was inevitable that the plan to release the “Deal of the Century” was not going to happen as Jared Kushner will be in charge of the President’s 2020 re-election campaign.
"Art of the Deal"
According to some news outlets Trump decided in 2003 while watching the show of a questionable “televangelist”, Paula White Cain, that he wanted to gain better understanding of Israel and he also wanted to build a “Crystal Cathedral for God’ with her in charge. But it was during his 2016 election campaign speech to AIPAC that “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem….” Stating also that "I’m a deal-maker, and let me tell you this deal is catastrophic for America, for Israel, and for the whole of the Middle East,". He reiterated this again in November 2016 when he gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he hinted at his ambitions to present a plan seeking to bring a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “That’s the ultimate deal,” Trump told the newspaper. “As a deal maker, I’d like to do… the deal that can’t be made. And do it for humanity’s sake.” However, he announced in June 2017, after he has been in power for nearly six months, that the embassy will not be moved “because forging a peace deal with the Palestinians, who strongly oppose the move, is a priority”. Like all the previous presidents Trump signed the waiver that blocks the law from going into force, keeping the US embassy in Tel Aviv. The White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement that "President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America's national security interests," Spicer added. "But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when."
On January 9, 2017, Kushner was named Senior Advisor to the President (formally, "Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor"). Trump put Kushner in charge of brokering peace in Israeli–Palestinian conflict and he was welcomed by evangelicals supporting Trump. On August 24, 2017, Kushner travelled to Israel to talk to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then travelled to Palestine to meet President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to restart a peace process in the Middle East. The rest is history:
December 2017: Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
January 2018: Partial freezing of UNRWA funds
May 2018: Inauguration of US embassy in Jerusalem
August 2018: Cut all US funding to UNRWA
September 2018: Closure of PLO mission in DC
February 2019: End of USAID funding to the PA
March 2019: Recognition of annexed Golan Heights
June 2019: Release of the economic plan
November 2019: Recognition of settlements as no longer illegal
With all these momentous events, he was embraced by conservatives, Christians and Israelis. He was compared to King Cyrus by evangelical Christians and Rabbis. The nascent Sanhedrin and the Mikdash (Temple) Educational Center in Israel minted a coin engraved with the image of President Trump alongside an image of King Cyrus. Soon a train station and a new town in the Golan Heights will be named after Trump.
There is absolutely no doubt that Trump has accomplished a great deal in the international stage to recognise and push Israel’s interest, but it was obvious from the above statements that the agenda was to smooth the path for him and his team to do a deal with Netanyahu. With Trump you have to think in terms of business deals, emotions or beliefs doesn’t count. In his world everything is viewed clinically affirmed by his catchphrase “the art of the deal”. All the concessions and deals are a process to achieving an end goal and choosing his ambitious son-in-law, Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew and a family friend of Netanyahu, was the icing on the cake.
The White House Middle East Peace Framework
The official document calls the peace plan the “Peace to Prosperity - A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” but in the document it is collectively referred to as the “VISION”. There are number of apparent contradictions in the VISION and misleading statements were made at the Press Conference. For example, Trump said “This plan will double Palestinian territory and set the capital of the Palestinian state in eastern Jerusalem where the United States will happily open an embassy,” and at the same time said “Jerusalem will be undivided” again an obvious contradiction as the VISION clearly states “the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine should be in the section of East Jerusalem located in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier, including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis, and could be named Al Quds or another name as determined by the State of Palestine,”. The Palestinians currently occupy Eastern Jerusalem, also known as al-Quds al-Sharqit to Palestinians. Al Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, literally meaning the "The Holy One" in English. In the Islamic world it signifies the mission of liberating "Muslim land", the land of Israel, to Islam. It is why the Quds Force, a unit of the Iranian armed forces, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), takes its name from the Quds Force, "Jerusalem Force" in English. So, how is that not dividing Jerusalem? Also, in the VISION the Palestinians will get 70% more land in Judah and Samaria (the West Bank) and the territorial border will continue.
In the document, after recognising Israel’s connection to the land in page 19, they then contradict this by stating “For Islam, Jerusalem acquires prominence as stated in the Holy Koran: “Glory to Him who made His Servant go by night from the Sacred Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram) to the Farthest Mosque (al-Masjid al-Aqsa) whose surroundings We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs.” According to Islamic tradition, the verse refers to the Prophet Muhammad’s nocturnal journey from Mecca to Jerusalem (al-Isra’); he arrives at the area of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, where he ascends to Heaven (al-Mi’raj), to meet the earlier prophets and receive the commandment of prayer. In early Islam, when Muhammad had taken his followers from Mecca to Medina, he established Jerusalem as the direction of Islamic prayer (the first Qiblah) before later changing the direction of prayer to Mecca. There have been Muslim rulers who also emphasized the religious importance of Jerusalem. The Ummayad Caliphate, based in Damascus, oﬀered Jerusalem as an alternative place of pilgrimage when Mecca was controlled by a rival caliphate. The victory of Saladin over the Crusaders in 1187 led to a revival of Islamic interest in Jerusalem, and in 1517, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt its walls and religious sites. Today, it is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam.”
How can you make this comparison? Historically, Islam came after Judaism and Christianity and furthermore Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Quran. Archaeological evidence shows that from antiquity to the present, Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people.
There is no comparison for time and time again archaeology has illuminated the history of ancient Israel, Jerusalem, the First and Second Temple, the world of the Hebrew Bible, the world of the New Testament and even some of the oldest empires in the world. In 2017, the newly appointed United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple." When there was uproar from the usual suspects, he later reaffirmed the same view “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple,” and that “no one can deny the fact that Jerusalem is sacred to the three monotheistic religions.” In response, the Palestinian Authority declared that Guterres had “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs, overstepped his role as secretary general,” and demanded that he “issue an apology to the Palestinian people.” Islamic tradition doesn’t cut it. Muslims will happily quote the Quran, chapter and verse, but because Jerusalem is not in the Quran, they try to find a way to connect the two. Even the VISION states that there are “700 separate references to Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible”. If this is so obvious to them why bother mentioning these Islamic traditions. It is absurd.
This VISION is nothing more than a two-state solution with Israel giving more land away and risking their security by having Palestinians towns in close proximity to Israeli people. The VISION recognises this danger and naively advocates that “If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must commit to the path of peace with the State of Israel …. explicitly recognizing the State of Israel, committing to nonviolence, disarming of all terrorist groups….. The international community should be willing to provide compensation in the form of major investment for a complete and verifiable demilitarization of Gaza.” The VISION at best is naive, but at worst it is misleading and at times laughable. Apparently, they believe that Hamas and all the Jihadist groups will amazingly surrender their weapons, abolish their charter that calls for the “extermination of Jews”, start loving Jews, and the State of Palestine will live “peacefully alongside a secure and prosperous State of Israel”. There is absolutely no way that this could happen. They totally misunderstand the culture and hatred that defines these groups and the Arab world. Yes, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others maybe warming relations with Israel, but the reason is purely because of Iran. It is just an ongoing political hatred between the Sunni and Shia Muslims, and while they exhibit hatred for one another, they have two things in common that is deeply ingrained in their world view and that is Islam and hatred for Jews, that includes killing. These views are encouraged and commanded in the Quran, those who ignore this, do so at their peril. It is as simple as that. Islam is a way of life, it incorporates family, social, work, home and religious lifestyle, that’s why a former Muslim like myself can never be part or be welcomed – you are left with no identity and no life outside this framework. Note also the following: Quran (16:106) establishes that there are circumstances that can "compel" a Muslim to tell a lie. The term is called Taqiyyah derived from the Arabic word waqa (“to shield oneself”). This verse Quran (3:28) tells Muslims not to take those outside the faith as friends, unless it is to "guard themselves" against danger, meaning that there are times when a Muslim may appear friendly to non-Muslims, even though they should not feel friendly.
But this proposed VISION, though it may not understand the complexity of Islam and although many are trying to change the true narrative of Islam, they should at least use the evidence available. Principally, the danger of the Islamic/Jihadists Terrorism that continuously erupts globally, and in Israel and its borders. The leader of the Palestinian National Authority, Mohammed Abbas, claims in his PhD dissertation that the “Holocaust was a Zionist-Nazi plot. He repeatedly rants antisemitic speeches and allows his government to incite violence against Jews. To further explore the contradictions and the naivety of the VISION, watch Pastor Brandon Holthaus on his YouTube channel or you can read it for yourself right here.
How can you negotiate with those who refuse to acknowledge your existence or deny your connection to the land. These are the organisations that will apparently abandon their weapons:
The Hamas Covenant also known as Hamas Charter, refers to the Charter of the Hamas, issued on 18 August 1988, outlining the movement founding identity, stand, and aims.
The Charter identified Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." The charter states that "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel. It emphasizes the importance of jihad, stating in article 13, "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." The charter also states that Hamas is humanistic, and tolerant of other religions as long as they "stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region". The Charter adds that "renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion" of Islam.
Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad voiced Hamas' views on Jews and the imperative to rid the area of them in a Dec. 14, 2010 interview on Al Aqsa TV. He explained:
“The Jews have become abhorred and loathed outcasts, because they live off corruption and the plundering of the peoples – not only the Arab and Islamic peoples, but all the peoples of the world. The world has begun to be aware of this corrupting danger, and to applaud Hamas. The entire world says: "Bravo, Hamas, for confronting these people pf corruption." Whenever we score a goal, by achieving something against the Jews, the world applauds us....
Therefore, I expect that in the future, support for Hamas will grow. I also expect that in addition to the aid convoys, Hamas will get some "heavy stuff," which will help it be victorious. Hamas will receive its means of survival, its arms, and its supporters from where it is least expected, because the hatred for the Jews is on the rise, and people who hate the Jews find no [other] way to fulfill their hatred of the Jews and of the Americans – the Americans too have become abhorred throughout the world, because of their corruption, for they are led by the Jews – and they will support us”. [translated by MEMRI]
Hamas' Al Aqsa TV frequently broadcasts violent calls to slaughter Jews, for example, in this televised 2011 rally where the speaker declared it an act of devotion to Allah to harvest the skulls of the Jews. Palestinians were told that:
“You [Allah] have made our killing of the Jews an act of worship through which we come closer to you....our beloved Prophet Muhammed, You have made your teachings constitutions for us...the fire with which we harvest the skulls of the Jews...Oh sons of Palestine, oh sons of the Gaza Strip, oh mujahedeen, wage jihad, wreak destruction, blow up and harvest the heads of the Zionists.” (translated by MEMRI). There is ample evidence that Hamas intermingled its fighters among Palestinian civilians, using school compounds and private homes, and civilian centers to launch attacks against Israel.
Fatah is the main Palestinian faction of the PLO, and its leader - Mahmoud Abbas - governs the Palestinian Authority. Its previous leader was Yasser Arafat. Fatah charter was created in 1989 and the charter was revised in August 2009 to exclude any references to Israel, Jews or Zionists. But the hatred continues through its politics and through forming political alliances with rivals. On their website they are the ones calling for two state solution i.e. a solution that envisages an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River. The Fatah charter calls for the “eradication of the Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.”
The Fatah Party took the opportunity of its 48th anniversary to broadcast messages on its Facebook page that incite hatred, glorify terrorism and envision a world without Israel. Such messages come despite President Shimon Peres recently declaring that “Israel will have no better partner with whom to secure a peace agreement” than Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also chairs Fatah. Fatah glorified terrorism as acts of heroism on its Facebook page. The Palestinian party—which is the largest faction in the PA—displayed a map on its Web page that showed a world without Israel, despite statements from Abbas and other Fatah officials that their party and the Palestinian Liberation Organization have both recognized the Jewish state since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
And the hatred is still going on as Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hizballah and others continue to incite violence while the international communities looks away.
We now know that the Palestinian Authority and their partners have rejected the deal and that implementing the plan would bring “serious consequences” to the region, according to this statement. It warned, even before the announcement, that Palestinians will participate in a “Day of Rage,” including riots and protests in Judea and Samaria as well as attacks on Israeli security forces and police. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have praised Washington’s efforts and called for dialogue that didn’t directly criticize the plan. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Council of the Arab League, Turkey and Iran have all rejected it. Before the deal was even unveiled it was rejected by Jordan’s King Abdullah II. After the announcement only his Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, responded by confirming Jordan’s position on favouring two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, which is exactly what the deal has proposed. Even though many Jordanians have reportedly marched in their thousands against the deal, King Abdullah has remained quiet.
Trump’s “Deal of the Century” appears to be dead but what if this “VISION” against all the odds succeeds and the Palestinians Authority and Jordan accept the deal. The mood is changing in the Middle East and an ultimatum could be applied from various interested parties to force negotiation and ultimately a deal. It might also give them the incentive to regroup and devise ways to win back the land and that can only happen if America has been weaken and is unable to defend Israel.
I should say that this is not the Seven-Year Covenant that Israel will sign with the Anti-Christ as prophesied in Daniel 9:27, but I do believe that this endless push for a peace deal will finally happen but only when we, the church, departs and meet the Lord in the air “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor.1:51-52).