BUSH PREDICTS PEACE TREATY BY END OF 2008 But first, don't divide Jerusalem. Stop the rockets from Gaza. Protect Palestinian Christians.
By Joel C. Rosenberg (Washington, D.C., January 10, 2007) -- A comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty by the end of 2008? Is President Bush dreaming? Is this merely wishful thinking? Or are the parties actually that close? While skeptics abound -- and many an American president has believed he could finally bring security and stability to a troubled region -- we should not write off this possibility too quickly. Behind the scenes, the Arab-Israeli peace process actually has been accelerating in a strange sort of way for several reasons: * the death of Yasser Arafat and the rise of Mahmoud Abbas, a slightly-more moderate tactician who seems intent on striking a deal with the Israelis if he can first survive assassination at the hands of Hamas or other radicals; * the sudden demise of Ariel Sharon due to a stroke and the improbable rise of Ehud Olmert, a man who seems almost desperate for a peace deal with the Palestinians, even if that means dividing Jerusalem (a terrible idea we should strongly oppose -- sign Natan Sharansky's petition to keep Jerusalem the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish State); * the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime and the rise of a moderate if currently weak regime in Baghdad that does not threaten Israel directly; * the rising threat that Iran and other radical Muslims pose to moderate reformers in the region (a dynamic that is reminding the moderates who their real enemies are, and Israel is not really on that list); * and finally the determination of President Bush to get a deal done before he leaves office, as evidenced in part by his current trip to the epicenter. For all these reasons, it is not entirely out of the question that some sort of treaty could be struck by year end, despite -- or perhaps because of -- the growing Iranian, Syrian and Hizbullah threat to Israel. What's more, while Bible prophecies such as Matthew 24 and Luke 21 indicate that there will be wars, rumors of wars and revolutions in the Middle East in the last days, Ezekiel 38 also indicates that for a season at least the Jews will be living "securely" in the land prior to the apocalyptic War of Gog & Magog (the Russian-Iranian alliance to destroy Israel). This could suggest the possibility of some sort of treaty being agreed to in the not-too-distant future, though it should be noted that no treaty is specifically mentioned in the text and the word "peace" -- shalom -- is never used in Ezekiel 38. Separately, the prophecies of Daniel 9 actually do indicate that Israel and her neighbors will sign a peace treaty -- albeit a false, deceptive and short-lived one -- in the last days, though Bible scholars are not clear as to which prophecy will come true first, Ezekiel's or Daniel's. Bottom line #1: Expect all manner of contradictions and cross-currents in the epicenter in the years ahead -- wars and rumors of wars, as well as intense efforts to bring peace, prosperity and security. Which brings me back to our operating motto at The Joshua Fund these days: "Pray for peace, but prepare for war." For no one but the Lord Himself knows for sure what 2008 holds. Bottom line #2: We must urge President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert to protect -- not divide -- Jerusalem. We must also urge the President, Prime Minister and Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to aggressively fight radical Palestinian terrorism, and specifically stop the rockets that keep getting fired from Gaza into southern Israeli border towns and cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon (2,500 since 2005, and 25 just since President Bush arrived in Israel). What's more, we must urge all of these leaders to fight to protect the human rights, civil rights, freedom of the press and religious freedom of all Israelis and Palestinians, especially Palestinian evangelical Christians in the West Bank and Gaza who are being targeted, threatened and attacked on a daily and weekly basis. -------------------- Excerpt from Haaretz: "U.S. President George W. Bush said Thursday that he is confident that the Israelis and the Palestinians will reach a peace deal in 2008.Bush was speaking in Ramallah after meeting with Palestinan President Mahmoud Abbas. The U.S. president is on a three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank to show support for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.He arrived at Abbas' headquarters on Thursday for his first-ever visit to the Palestinian territories. Abbas greeted Bush as he emerged from his car in the walled compound. The two men walked side by side along a red carpet, flanked by Palestinian security in olive-and-gold uniforms. 'In order for there to be lasting peace, President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert have to come together and make tough choices,' Bush said at a joint press conference after meeting with Abbas. 'And I'm convinced they will. And I believe it's possible - not only possible, I believe it's going to happen - that there be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office (in January 2009). That's what I believe.'"