How Should Christians React to Israel’s Annexation Plans - Word&Way

How Should Christians React to Israel’s Annexation Plans

Shortly after the end of World War II, the nations of the world made an important decision. They wanted to be sure that powerful countries don’t just swallow the lands of their neighbors just because they could militarily. They resolved that might should never be right and, as a result, they came up with a simple but powerful understanding banning countries from taking land in war. This concept was included in every post-war agreement and treaty.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council entrusted with peace and security in the world insisted on including this in the preamble of the UN Security Council Resolution 242, which was agreed to unanimously after Israel occupied Arab territories in June 1967. The preamble stated: “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security.”

A Palestinian security unit mans a checkpoint at an entrance of in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 2, 2020. (Nasser Nasser/Associated Press)

For over five decades the idea of working for a just peace has failed. Israel claims Palestinians are stubborn in wanting to have all their lands back while Palestinians insist that by accepting the two-state solution, i.e. a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel, they are making a major historic compromise. Successive U.S. administrations have theoretically and publicly supported the Palestinian position but, in reality, have done little to force Israel to accept it. The oft-repeated U.S. position was that America can’t want peace more than the warring parties. But this was an oversimplification and a biased position towards the more powerful party, Israel.

Then came the Trump/Pence Administration, which was loaded with pro-Israel Christians and Jewish Zionists who quickly rejected all previous administrations’ positions, such as the need for Jerusalem to be shared between both sides and that Jewish settlements were illegal and an obstacle to peace.

The Trump administration in close coordination and collusion with the Israeli prime minister, now facing multiple corruption charges, decided that they know what is best for resolving the conflict and drew a plan with maps that gave Israel one-third of the Palestinian West Bank and offered in return land plots in the desert as a replacement for the water-rich Jordan valley area. Israel was kept in charge of all borders and overall security. Palestinians rejected the offer and Washington asked Israel not to do anything for four years to allow for negotiations.

But the Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been facing corruption charges, decided to jump-start the plan in a bid to get support from far right-wing Israeli settlers and decided to pocket whatever the Trump plan had suggested for Israel without paying attention to what Palestinians, Arab countries (including neighbors Jordan and Egypt who have peace treaties with Israel), or what the rest of the world thinks.

Palestinians have naturally rejected this annexation plan. But some have asked where do Palestinian Christians, including evangelicals, stand. Aside from the natural, normal tendency of people to stand with their own nation, Palestinians are also believers that peace without justice will not stand. Palestinian Christians don’t support expansionism and subjugation no matter what the justification is. Attempts to connect the secular Israeli government’s expansionist attempts and land acquisition based on some divine right or even a crocked interpretation of biblical prophecies just doesn’t resonate with any person who believes in the simple concept of self-determination championed after the First World War by U.S. president Woodrow Wilson.

The current Israeli attempts to rush into existence a law that violates world order should not be justified by any peace-loving person. If God wishes anything in this world, including in Israel/Palestine, he surely will not do it in an unfair and unjust way. As Israeli American Evangelical leader Joel C. Rosenberg argued June 14th in the Israeli Jerusalem Post newspaper “Nowhere in the Bible, certainly not in the New Testament, are believers commanded to focus on expanding Israel’s territory. Rather, the emphasis time and time again is on peace. King David commanded us to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ (Psalm 122:6). Jesus told us that ‘blessed are the peacemakers’ (Matthew 5:9). The Apostle Paul told us that ‘if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men’” (Romans 12:18).”

Peace must be based on justice and equal rights, and God has demanded of us to seek it with all our might. Any peace that is unjust can’t and shouldn’t be endorsed by Christians who cherish and value life, whether it be Israeli or Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, or Christian.

Written by

Daoud Kuttab, an award-winning Palestinian journalist and former Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton University, is the secretary of the Jordan Evangelical Council. Follow him on twitter @daoudkuttab