War Over Jerusalem Has Begun

A signal of events accelerating toward global conflagration: The eternal city, Jerusalem, is increasingly the focus of conflicting passions.

With the Arabs now having the Gaza Strip and a small portion of the West Bank under their belt, their attention is concentrated on Jerusalem more than ever.

The Palestinians have long laid claim to Jerusalem as capital of a future Palestinian state. Their triumph in the Gaza Strip has now renewed their efforts to wrest control of East Jerusalem from the Jews.

“The fight has begun for Jerusalem,” announced Palestinian Authority (pa) Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia last week, just days after the Israeli withdrawal was complete (Arutz Sheva,August 30). On August 28, at a meeting in the Arab section of Jerusalem, Qureia said that the pa would now focus its attention on that city. “The only viable country would be with the 1967 borders,” said the Palestinian prime minister. “The Palestinians will not accept less than a state on the lands occupied in 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital” (ibid.).

(Interestingly, what Israel is hailing as a victory in convincing Egypt to take over border security between Gaza and Egypt, was acknowledged by Qureia as a “positive step” toward the establishment of this state.)

The takeover of Jerusalem is indeed the dream of the Palestinian people. This was clearly demonstrated at a mass rally in Gaza during the week of the Israeli withdrawal, when about 10,000 Palestinians celebrated in the streets chanting, “Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem” (New York Sun,August 9).

Of course, the various terrorist organizations, particularly Hamas, have also been shouting from the rooftops their designs on Jerusalem. If positive thinkers put their hopes in the pa bringing Hamas and other terrorist groups under control, they fail to comprehend the level of passion they share for Jerusalem—a cause that makes way for complicity rather than crackdowns.

Two weeks ago, while Israel’s withdrawal was still underway, the Palestinian prime minister met in Syria’s capital with leaders of various terrorist groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to discuss “ways of cooperating with them” after the disengagement (Jerusalem Post, August 22). And what would be the goal of this cooperation, which included an agreement for Hamas and pij not to be disarmed? “Gaza is a part of Palestine,” Qureia stated after the meeting, “and there will be no calm until the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital” (ibid., emphasis ours).

The Palestinians—despite internal political rivalry and competition among militant groups—are united regarding Jerusalem. In fact, the challenge that Hamas poses, even politically, to the pa leadership will no doubt serve to focus the Palestinian Authority on obtaining control of East Jerusalem more fervently than ever in order to win the support of the people.

To this end, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with American, Russian and United Nations officials at the time of the Gaza disengagement, urging them to pressure Israel to withdraw from the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Of course, Israel is determined to hold on to Jerusalem. One Israeli politician who appears to see the danger of losing Jerusalem, however, is Benjamin Netanyahu, who resigned from the government in protest of the Gaza pullout. “Jerusalem is in danger,” he stated last week (August 31). “The Palestinians are actively trying to detach Jerusalem from Maaleh Adumim [an Israeli settlement in the West Bank east of Jerusalem]” (Arutz Sheva,August 31).

Netanyahu said that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s policies, including the freezing of Israeli construction in this area, are isolating Jerusalem. “The Palestinians are building from north to south, suffocating Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. “Sharon perpetuated that situation [by stopping Jewish construction] because he gave in to international pressures” (ibid.).

Of course, Netanyahu is using the weakness of Sharon’s policies to put himself forward as the solution to Israel’s predicament (he announced August 30 that he is running for Likud Party leadership). However, should he gain office, any success he achieves will be limited and fleeting. For even he, during his previous prime ministry (1996-99)—despite his hardline reputation—ceded the Golan Heights to Syria (though the plan has yet to be enacted). To think an Israel with Netanyahu at the helm would reverse the nation’s retreat would be rather naive.

We can expect the pressure on Israel’s leadership only to increase—especially when it comes to the issue of Jerusalem.

Bible prophecy tells us that the Arabs will partially succeed in their quest for Jerusalem—and that this will actually be the trigger event leading to the fall of the State of Israel and initiating World War iii. “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:1-2). Though this prophecy revolves around what the Bible calls the “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) and the Day of the Lord, verses 1 and 2 talk about the time leading up to that period.

Editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained, in the November 1997 Trumpet, “One half of Jerusalem is to be taken captive. That crisis triggers a series of events that leads to the return of Jesus Christ! One half of Jerusalem being taken captive is like the first domino to fall, leading to Christ’s return and battle against all nations in Jerusalem! It all begins and ends in Jerusalem.”

Read Mr. Flurry’s booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy for details on that series of events that is closer than ever to being ignited.