I watched online yesterday as President Trump presented his Middle East peace plan. He announced his proposal alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House.
The plan calls for a two-state solution including the state of Israel and the “future” state of Palestine with a capital in East Jerusalem.
How the plan benefits Palestinians
The president’s plan offers significant benefits to the Palestinians. They would have a contiguous state in the West Bank that would be connected via a tunnel with the Gaza Strip. The proposed map would more than double the Palestinian territory, according to Mr. Trump, who stated that “no Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes.”
Israel would freeze new settlement activity for four years while Palestinian statehood is negotiated. Israel would ensure Muslim access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and respect Jordan’s role regarding holy sites. The plan also creates a $50 billion economic revival fund for Palestinians, Jordan, and Egypt.
Mr. Netanyahu and his opponent in Israel’s March 2 election, Gen. Benny Gantz, have both agreed to implement the plan. This is the first time Israel has accepted a Palestinian state with defined borders.
How the two sides are responding
However, the plan also contains elements that are certain to meet with Palestinian objections.
The US would recognize Israeli sovereignty over major portions of biblical Judea and Samaria, including the entire Jordan Valley. The Palestinian pathway to statehood requires that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state with its capital in Jerusalem, disarm Hamas, stop payments to terrorists, and eliminate incitement in schools.
The Jerusalem Post calls the plan “the best one Israel has ever been offered.” By contrast, Palestinian leaders have already stated that the plan “doesn’t constitute a basis for resolving the conflict.” They largely broke off relations with the White House after the president moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem in 2017.
For Israel to unilaterally annex much of the West Bank carries enormous risks. It could undermine Israel’s strategic peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt and could fuel Palestinian unrest or a violent reaction in the region. For the Palestinians to reject the plan or continued negotiation, however, leaves them divided between Gaza and the West Bank with no state and no road map for the future.
The ultimate solution to human conflict
I believe strongly that both Israel and the Palestinians deserve a homeland. Across thirty trips to the Holy Land over twenty-five years, I have yet to meet an Israeli or a Palestinian who disagrees with me.
Whether President Trump’s plan will become the pathway to such peace remains to be seen. Hamas (which governs Gaza) is led by militants who profit from conflict with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah (which governs the West Bank), said he refused to speak with President Trump by phone and has called for a “Day of Rage” to protest the plan.
Negotiations between such intractable opponents are predictably challenging. Israeli and Egyptian leaders nearly failed in their efforts to achieve the peace that eventually resulted from the Camp David Accords. Relations between Jordan and the US were severely damaged by the 1990 Kuwait crisis, but the two eventually worked with Israel to create an enduring peace.
The ultimate solution to human conflict is mutual commitment to the Prince of Peace. The One who transformed the persecutor of the church into its global apostle (Acts 9) can change any heart that is given to him.
“As soon as God becomes real”
Unfortunately, our secularized culture views God as irrelevant to our lives and world. In the media coverage of the Middle East peace plan, I have not seen a single reference to his sovereignty in this region.
It would seem that God’s miraculous creation of the Jewish nation never happened or that his love for Ishmael’s descendants is irrelevant to the Arab people (Genesis 21:12–18). And it would seem that peace in the future depends entirely on the frailties of fallen humans.
It is not surprising that secular people would focus on secular solutions to perennial problems. What is surprising is the degree to which their worldview can influence our own.
Do you live in light of God’s sovereignty over your world? Do you acknowledge his reality in every place and moment of your life? Do you remember that he is watching all you think and do? That you will stand before him in judgment one day?
One of the strongest deterrents to temptation I have found is remembering the reality of God, the fact that Jesus is praying for me right now (Romans 8:34) and his Spirit lives in me (1 Corinthians 3:16). Every sin grieves him (Ephesians 4:30), but every act of obedience pleases and honors my Lord (Galatians 1:10).
Oswald Chambers: “The one thing for which we are all being disciplined is to know that God is real. As soon as God becomes real, other people become shadows. Nothing that other saints do or say can ever perturb the one who is built on God.”
Are you “built on God” today?