1973 Yom Kippur War Aftermath
In the 1973 war, the Israelis suffered 10,000 casualties which was an enormous loss in relation to their small population. They lost 107 aircraft and over 400 tanks, again enormous losses for the relatively small Israeli forces. While they emerged victorious at the end, they could not afford to wage such a war of attrition again. Israel was shocked that they had been so totally unprepared for the surprise attack. If they would have had Satellite cameras over the Suez Canal on October 5, 1973 they would have seen a very large Egyptian force on the west bank of the canal along with 600 tanks and 2000 artillery pieces preparing to attack on Oct.6. On the Israeli east bank of the canal they would have seen only a few handfuls of men and a few tanks scattered up and down the canal. After the war, the Israeli Agranat Commission investigated the lack of readiness and poor intelligence. Many generals were suspended, and the 1973 war ended the careers of Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan. In 1977, the people voted out of office the ruling Labor Party which had held office for 30 years, partly because of the war.
After the Six Day War of 1967, Israel underwent significant positive changes in the growth of its population, its economy, and its military. Perhaps the greatest change was in confidence. Israel and America came to believe Israel was invincible, and that it was a nation here to stay. However, over six years later, after the 1973 war, their bubble was popped. They had limited resources, a relatively small population, and could not survive a long war of attrition. The 1973 war exposed their weaknesses and need for a lasting peace to be attained. The good news for Israel was that their principle enemy for the last 25 years, Egypt, had attacked Israel with their best shot, yet Egypt had been soundly defeated. The war of 1973 marked the end of hostilities and fear of war between Egypt and Israel. Egypt had expelled the Russians and become an ally with America, and became dependent on significant aid from America. Since Syria would never attack Israel alone, and Jordan became an undercover ally of Israel, Israel has not had any danger of attack from an organized Arab country since 1973. All hostilities in the last 37 years have come from terrorist organizations or Palestinians from within Israel. In many ways, this threat has been even more difficult to overcome. There have been multiple organizations and leaders that claim to represent the Palestinians, and the most active extremists will settle for nothing less than the annihilation of the Jews, or as Helen Thomas said recently, “that all the Jews go back to Poland”.
Peace Negotiations based on U.N. Resolution 242
In January of 1974, Israel agreed to withdraw troops from the west side of the Suez Canal which they had taken in the Yom Kippur War. In Sept. of 1975, Israel agreed to withdraw east of the strategic passes in the Sinai that led to the canal and Egypt. On November 21, 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat flew to Israel and addressed the Israeli Knesset with the offer of no more war. In 1978, both Sadat and Israeli Prime minister Begin met in America and signed the Camp David Peace Accord for which they were both given the Nobel Peace Prize. Israel agreed to restore the Sinai to Egypt. The other Arab states expelled Egypt from the Arab League for signing this treaty and recognizing Israel. In 1981, Arab extremists assassinated Sadat because he made peace. After Egypt had made peace, the biggest issue in the Middle East became the Palestinian question. By 1982, there was a large contingent of Palestinians in Lebanon. Palestinians had fled to Lebanon and Jordan after the 1948 war with Israel and again in the 1967 war with Israel. King Hussein of Jordan hated the Palestinians because they openly opposed his rule, and threatened to depose him.
Black September in Jordan
In September of 1970, King Hussein attacked the militant Palestinian organizations in order to preserve his monarchy. The violence resulted in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians. In 1971 all the PLO and all Palestinian fighters in Jordan were expelled to Lebanon. The Palestinian Liberation Organization had become a force in Jordan after the 1967 Six Day War with Israel. The PLO branch called Fatah led by Yasser Arafat spawned a revenge group called “Black September” who were responsible for the 1972 Munich massacre at the Olympics.
The PLO fled out of Jordan into Lebanon where they helped start the civil war in Lebanon in 1975 which was ended by the intervention of Syria in 1976. Syria backed the Christian Militia group in Lebanon against the PLO, and Syria was blamed for several massacres of Palestinians. However, the PLO continued to attack Israel from southern Lebanon, so in 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon in an attempt to crush the PLO. The intervention of the USA allowed the PLO to retreat to Tunisia. In 1993 Israel began negotiations with the PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Oslo, Norway and later at the White House in the USA. The “Oslo Accords” were agreed to at the White House in front of President Bill Clinton on Sept.13, 1993. PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin actually shook hands in front of the world. The agreement provided for the recognition of the PLO as the spokesman for the Palestinian people. The PLO recognized Israel as a state with the right to exist, and Israel recognized the PLO.
The Oslo Accords were a framework for the future relations between the parties, but they provided for a Palestinian National Authority which would have responsibility for control of the territory known as the Gaza Strip and also the West Bank of the Jordan River. For the first time since 1967, the Palestinians would have land in Israel which they could live in and govern themselves. Other issues such as Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, security, a separate autonomous nation for Palestinians, and border controls were to be decided later. Naturally “the decided later” part was never decided, and these issues have led to a lot of bloodshed. Today the Palestinian Hezbollah is harassing Israel from southern Lebanon, and the Palestinian group Hamas is firing rockets and mortars into Israel from the Gaza Strip. I know this personally because I had dinner with a Christian Arab who lives on the border of the Gaza Strip, and his home is continually threatened by random explosions.
President Clinton and the 2000 Camp David Meeting
In July of 2000, Bill Clinton was determined to make his legacy the bringing of a permanent peace to the Middle East. He worked very hard to get Israel to make concessions to settle all the “undecided issues” from the Oslo Accords. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Arafat met at Camp David for extensive talks. Israel offered the Gaza Strip, most of the West Bank, and more land from the Negev. Ehud agreed to Palestinian guardianship of key sites in Old Jerusalem, and cash to a fund for Palestinian refugees. Clinton felt that Israel had come a long way, so if he could get the PLO to concede a few of their demands, a deal could be made. Arafat demanded a reversion of all land to the pre-1967 Six Day War boundaries, and a Palestinian return to all that land. He also wanted East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian State. The Jews would only have rights to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Clinton felt like the deal Israel was offering was significantly better than what the PLO had, and that they would take it, but to his amazement Arafat declined. The failure at Camp David in 2000 was followed by a renewal of the Palestinian uprising and suicide bombers.
A Biblical Perspective
Biblically, until Christ comes back, Israel can never expect to occupy in peace all the land promised by God to Abraham. Part of the Mosaic Covenant that God made with Israel in Deuteronomy was that Israel would never live in peace and prosperity as long as they were breaking the covenant. A study of Israel in the Old Testament, and their relationship with God currently makes it obvious that the nation as a whole has and is living outside of that covenant made in Deuteronomy. Therefore there will never be peace in the Middle East until Christ comes back in the second coming. In addition, we believe that Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah who ushered in the New Covenant of grace promised by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, but was rejected by Israel.
Nevertheless, a survey of all the Old Testament prophets along with the New Testament authors makes it clear to me that the authors of the Bible believed Israel would be restored to the land in the end times. Before the second coming of Christ, Israel would be restored to the land, believe in God, and will be prepared to welcome the Messiah. Just consider a few of the O.T. predictions:
Isaiah 2:2-4; 4:2-4, “In the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established…and many people will say ‘Come let us go up…to the house of the God of Jacob…For the word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem. In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious…and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. When the Lord has washed away the sin of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem.”
Isa.62:1-4, “And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet…It will no longer be said to you, ‘Forsaken’, Nor to your land ‘Desolate’, but you will be called ‘My delight is in her”.
Jeremiah 31:38-40; 33:14-16, “Behold the days are coming”, declares the Lord, “when the city (Jerusalem) shall be rebuilt…and the whole city shall be holy to the Lord…it shall not be overthrown anymore forever.”
Ezekiel 36:24-28, “For I will take you (Israel) from out of the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land…Moreover I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you…and you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers and I will be your God.”
See also Hosea 3:5, Joel 2:31-32, Amos 9:14-15, Micah 4:1, Zeph.3:11,13,20, Zechariah 12:10-14
I know that many theologians believe that Israel has been replaced by the church, and that God has no future plans for Israel, but clearly the O.T. prophets believed that Israel would be restored to God in the end times, and the remnant of Jews alive at the return of Messiah would be saved. Paul confirmed this in the New Testament in Romans 11:25-26.
Prospects for Peace in the Middle East
The prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East are zero—until Jesus comes back and ends all worldly conflict and evil. If there is an absence of conflict in the Middle East, it is only because the parties are pausing to reload. Jews and Arabs will always be rivals just as the angel predicted in Genesis 16:11-12. Hagar was pregnant with Ishmael who would be the father of the Arab race, and the angel said he would be the father of a great race of people who would live to the east of Israel (and identified in Gen.25:16-18 as Arabia). Further, “His hand shall be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him” and “he settled in defiance of all his relatives (meaning the Jews)”. Isaac and Ishmael had the same father, Abraham, but the prophecy was that they would each be the originator of a race of people living near each other which would always be enemies.
A Rock in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the most unique city in the world from a religious viewpoint. Not only do Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all claim the city, but the Bible says that it is the center of the world in the sense that the Kingdom of God will be ruled from Jerusalem.
On top of what was old Mount Moriah, but is now called the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, sits the Dome of the Rock. You can see it from anywhere in the area. It is a Muslim Shrine built on top of what was the site of Solomon’s Temple, and later the Second Temple. That makes it the holiest place in the world to Jews. The Dome of the Rock is built over a huge stone that sits in its basement. Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven from that stone. Both Jews and Muslims believe Abraham brought his son to Mt. Moriah and placed him on that stone to be sacrificed as a test of God. Of course Muslims believe it was Ishmael, and Jews believe it was Isaac. Many Jews also believe the stone is the foundation stone of the Second Temple. Suffice it to say that both religions covet that site and that stone. There is another stone spoken of in the Bible as a cornerstone. Jesus called Himself the “stone that the builders rejected which became the chief cornerstone” in Matthew 22:42, and Peter wrote that Jesus is the “living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God…This precious value, then, is for you who believe” (1 Peter 2:4-7). Jesus is the true valuable rock that we worship, and when He comes back He will restore peace to the whole world. CHARLIE TAYLOR