Are the Palestinians About to Gain Control of East Jerusalem?
Jerusalem lies at the heart of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. Peace deals, land concessions, dividing walls—until the controversy surrounding Jerusalem is settled, none of these measures will bring peace.
Over the past few weeks, events in Israel have once again thrust Jerusalem into the spotlight.
A draft EU report leaked to the press last month lambasted Israel for its activities in Arab-dominated East Jerusalem and inferred that Israel needs to restrict its influence in this part of the city if the peace process is ever to work. The report, though not officially endorsed by the European Union (which thought it bad timing to cause problems with Israel following the Gaza withdrawal and in the run-up to elections), clearly revealed that the EU has sided with the Palestinians and wants to see East Jerusalem come under Palestinian control.
In Israel, a poll conducted last Friday revealed that many Israelis also believe their government should cede East Jerusalem to the Palestinians; 49 percent say they would support the move as part of a peace deal. That number indicates that after decades of violence, the Palestinians are making solid ground in their quest to make East Jerusalem the capital of a new Palestinian state. It illustrates a definite weakening of Israeli fortitude.
With Israeli elections approaching in March, clearly Jerusalem will be a key issue of the election debate. While all leading candidates for leadership of Israel have publicly promised they would never allow the city to be divided, recent statements by the two leading candidates indicate that they might be prepared to renege on that promise.
A favorite for reelection, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his new party, Kadima, created quite the debacle last week when a Newsweek article quoted a senior adviser to the prime minister as saying that if Sharon were to win a third term in office, he is prepared to cede parts of East Jerusalem in pursuit of a final peace deal with the Palestinians. Although Mr. Sharon quickly denied the claim, many papers reminded readers that the prime minister has a history of floating such trial balloons and denying them, only for them to become reality soon after. The Gaza retreat was a prime example.
As the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz noted, “Every political plan for the resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians has also included a change in the borders of Jerusalem” (December 15).
Despite his denials, Prime Minister Sharon has indicated more than once that he would consider relinquishing East Jerusalem. A final peace deal with the Palestinians would be the capstone to a long and arduous career in Israeli politics for Sharon. Should the prime minister be re-elected, he is likely to make massive concessions to the Palestinians.
Even if Sharon loses his fight for a third term, it is still likely that the winner would consider yielding East Jerusalem. As one of the primary candidates opposing Sharon, Labor Party leader Amir Peretz stated last week that his primary goal, if elected, would be to conclude the final peace negotiations with the Palestinians. To up the ante, Mr. Peretz promised to secure the deal within a year.
How is that possible? Peace has eluded these people for decades, and Mr. Peretz promises to secure peace within a year. He must be planning to make some drastic concessions.
Last week, as each candidate ramped up his efforts to promote himself as the savior of peace, Ahmed Qureia—just before resigning as Palestinian Authority prime minister—took the opportunity to remind the two men that unless serious concessions were made with regards to Jerusalem, the peace negotiations were sure to fail.
As pressure mounts on Israeli candidates to secure peace with the Palestinians, watch for Palestinian leaders to exploit the situation and secure massive concessions. The Palestinians have Israel against the wall, and they know it.
This is a pivotal time in Israel’s history. Demands to cede East Jerusalem have never been greater. Most of the international community would support it. The Arabs would certainly champion it, and won’t stop fighting until it occurs. Many of Israel’s primary leaders are open to such a move. Even 49 percent of all Israelis would back the move. Meanwhile, the popularity of terrorist groups is increasing among Palestinians.
Jerusalem lies at the center of all these trends.
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.