2017—All Eyes on Jerusalem
Jerusalem—2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War in which the tiny Jewish state of Israel defended itself against numerous Arab armies simultaneously. Israel not only survived, but by the war’s end, it had taken possession of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank from Jordan, expanding its territory threefold. At the time, many Jewish leaders and foreign journalists alike recognized this was a miraculous victory.
However, the most symbolic and emotive part of the war for the Jews occurred on the third day when Israeli Army Chaplain Rabbi Shlomo Goren gathered soldiers before the Western Wall to blow the shofar at Judaism’s holiest site. The solemn blast announced to the world that the Jews had captured the Old City and the Temple Mount. For the first time in almost 2,000 years, Jerusalem was united under Jewish rule.
But now, 50 years on, we must ask: Will united Jerusalem make it to 51?
UNSC Unilaterally Divides Jerusalem
As we enter 2017, more attention is being focused on Jerusalem than any year in recent memory.
On December 23, the United States broke with its traditional role as Israel’s protector at the United Nations Security Council (unsc) by choosing not to veto a resolution that called Israeli communities in the West Bank illegal and invalid. The resolution, however, has a more sinister aspect than most previous attempts to impugn Israel’s claims over the territory it won in the war.
In that resolution, we see the UN taking aim at Israel’s control and sovereignty of Jerusalem itself, not just the territory of the West Bank.
Notice the first three points of the resolution. The unsc (emphasis added):
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard; 3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations ….
Why single out Jerusalem in the resolution? Why not just mention the West Bank, or the more general term of the “territories” as in previous resolutions?
Why? Because the unity of Jerusalem was the real target of this resolution.
The resolution isn’t about settlements in far off regions of the West Bank. The key difference in this resolution to all others is that Jerusalem itself is now on the chopping block. According to the unsc, which is the closest thing we have to a world government, Israeli rule over East Jerusalem has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law.
In these three separate instances, the resolution draws specific attention to East Jerusalem, not just the West Bank. East Jerusalem of course is technically part of the West Bank, but all previous negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, such as the Oslo Accords in the 1990s and the Camp David Summit in 2000, dealt with Jerusalem as a separate issue from the territory of the West Bank.
The future of Jerusalem wasn’t predetermined. The issue of Jerusalem in a final peace deal was to be negotiated separately.
But now, according to the UN—and supported by the U.S.’s decision not to veto—the Israelis not only cannot build or live in Judea and Samaria, but now, any building in East Jerusalem beyond the now invisible 1967 lines is illegal.
The UN has unilaterally divided Jerusalem—and Israel didn’t even have a say in it.
It is true that some Israeli leaders in the past had offered East Jerusalem to the Palestinians in an effort to reach a peace agreement. One of these was former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
In 1993, the government of Yitzhak Rabin signed the first set of Oslo Accords. They became the new foundation and platform from which Israeli-Palestinian peace would be negotiated. As part of the accords, the future of Jerusalem was declared to be a separate subject for future negotiations. The likelihood of Israel giving up sovereignty of East Jerusalem in a peace deal was highly unlikely. Rabin even declared in his last Knesset speech, one month before he was assassinated in 1995, that Jerusalem must always remain the united capital of Israel.
However, one of Rabin’s own followers, Ehud Barak, would go against Rabin’s intentions just five years later.
In 2000, during the waning months of his time in office, Barak offered terrorist and Palestinian Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat the West Bank and East Jerusalem in return for peace as part of the Camp David summit negotiated with U.S. President Bill Clinton. Although Arafat refused, Barak’s offer of East Jerusalem signified a huge departure from Israel’s negotiating position.
But now the cat was out of the bag: Israel was willing to negotiate away East Jerusalem. Israel had always said Jerusalem would be undivided, but apparently there was division on that position.
As Dore Gold, adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recounted in his book The Fight for Jerusalem, the Israeli public was absolutely furious when it learned that Jerusalem was being offered as part of a peace deal. This led to the largest demonstration in Israel’s history, as 400,000 citizens marched to the Old City walls to protest.
At the time, even though Arafat did not accept the deal, some leftist Israeli officials even considered proposing a unsc resolution where the new parameters for peace including East Jerusalem would be locked in to the new negotiating position of the Israelis. But that didn’t happen. There was no security resolution in 2001.
But fast-forward to December 2016, and we now have that Security Council resolution. The international community has unilaterally decided, with U.S. support, that East Jerusalem does not belong to the Jews. East Jerusalem is no longer up for negotiation—it is Palestinian land, and the Jews have no right to it. Jerusalem, according to the United Nations, is not the united capital of the Jews.
Setting the Stage for Fulfilling Bible Prophecy
Why is this important? It would be easy to disregard the unsc resolution as nothing more than talk. Israel today, especially under the leadership of Mr. Netanyahu, would refuse to concede the Old City and East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu himself has said as much. If the UN wanted to enforce this resolution, they would have to march member-nations’ armies into Jerusalem to force Israel out of East Jerusalem.
Most people would agree that it would be highly unlikely and irregular for the UN to be able to organize itself that way.
It is possible, however, that the Palestinians themselves could react to this resolution in an armed uprising and try to simply take what the UN has now said already belongs to them. At which point, Israel would need to suppress the violence. That action would put Israel at loggerheads with the international community.
This is important because the Trumpet has long forecast this exact scenario we see developing. Pointing to a prophecy in the biblical book of Zechariah, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said for many years that half of Jerusalem will indeed fall into Palestinian hands. In March 2006, he elaborated on how it would come about:
It seems the Palestinians could get East Jerusalem, minus the Temple Mount, without a fight. Zechariah’s prophecy implies that there will be an impasse over the Temple Mount—which the Palestinians “resolve” by taking East Jerusalem by force. That is why I believe the conservatives could regain control in Israel. They have a stronger will to fight for the land they believe belongs to the Jews.
At the time he made this statement, a passive left-wing government was in power. But for this prophecy to unfold, conservatives would have to return to power.
This has since happened.
Mr. Netanyahu will not accept Palestinian control of the Temple Mount or East Jerusalem. Yet buoyed by this resolution and likely further action by the international community in the coming months, the Palestinians could be motivated to make a run for it themselves.
Clearly the unsc resolution doesn’t further the chances for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Instead it undermines Israel’s negotiating position, and actually encourages the Palestinians to fight for the land, which brings into play Zechariah’s pivotal prophecy of half of Jerusalem falling.
In 2017, all eyes are going to be on Jerusalem. Zechariah’s prophecy of half of Jerusalem falling is not some obscure or relatively unimportant end-time event. Rather, it is a verifiable and highly visible event that sets off a chain reaction of further prophecies leading to the coming of the Messiah. To understand in detail the events to follow the fall of East Jerusalem, please request Jerusalem in Prophecy by Gerald Flurry.