The Truth Behind the Peace Process

President Bush is trying to resuscitate the peace process. How will the participants fare after another failed attempt?
From the July 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

The last time the Mideast peace process filled daily headlines, it failed—disastrously.

That was Camp David, in July 2000. There, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered an enormous bill of goods to Yasser Arafat, asking for only peace in return—a simple acceptance by the Palestinians of Israel’s right to exist. But the Palestinian leader turned him down. And shortly after, things turned ugly. An intifada began that still continues, having claimed about 3,000 lives to date.

The outcome was hardly a shock. Why? Because Israel’s real war has always been one of just trying to win acceptance.

This is a tiny, Western-style democracy of 6 million—80 percent of whom are Jewish—crowded by hostile, autocratic monarchies and Islamic republics with combined populations approaching 400 million. Some of the fiercest hostility comes from the Palestinian portion of Israel’s own population, which has fought an off-and-on war for independence from the beginning.

Israel held its ground for decades by prevailing in military struggles—but still never won its war for acceptance. In weary exasperation, in 1993 it turned to the path of negotiating for that acceptance. But negotiation doesn’t win wars, and seven years of Israel giving up land didn’t bring the Palestinians any closer to accepting the Jewish state. Camp David proved that.

Now, after two and a half years of responding to the drumbeat dirge of Palestinian terrorist attacks with military reprisals, again Israel is talking about negotiating for acceptance. The Arabs will take whatever Israel is willing to give. But they will never embrace the idea of having a Jewish state in their midst. The situation is insoluble. The peace process will fail again.

So as we watch this awkward dance, this doomed flirtation, between Israel and the Palestinians, with principally the United States and Europe looking on, the question is not whether they can succeed—they cannot. Rather, the interesting points to consider are twofold. First, what is motivating these four parties in trying again? Is it mere naïveté, or are other agendas at play? And second, what will be the effects upon each of them of yet another failure? How will one more breakdown hurt—or benefit—these four parties?

The answers to these questions are very telling.

America’s Motivation

Why try again?

The common reasoning for resurrecting the peace process could roughly be described, Yes it looks impossible, but we can’t afford not to try.

To fulfill promises he made before the Iraq war, President George Bush became personally involved. Before this, he was virtually hands-off; last summer he essentially dodged the question by saying the U.S. wouldn’t deal with Arafat. But this year, as tension over Iraq increased, Mideast leaders accused the U.S. of ignoring the real issue in the region while going after something much less critical. “The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the litmus test for United States-Muslim relations, and it has increasingly become a source of great hostility toward America” (Current History, January 2003).

After dispatching Saddam Hussein, the U.S. naturally turned its attention to Israel—at least in some measure, to defuse Mideast anger over lingering post-war problems in Iraq. The reasoning of President Bush’s administration seems to be, At least we need to try—even if it fails, as long as we are seen as being involved, no one can really fault us. By this point, the Palestinians had put Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in place—someone Bush agreed to deal with. The president reiterated a formerly stated goal to establish a Palestinian state by 2005.

The U.S. is certainly entering the situation with pragmatic skepticism, but its goals are easy enough to discern: It would like nothing more than to be the mediator of Mideast peace—to project its benevolent power in a diplomatic rather than a violent way. Its best-case scenario: By finally solving this age-old problem, it turns the global tide of rising anti-Americanism and decreases the terrorist threat to its interests.

There are flaws in this line of thinking, however. As Charles Krauthammer wrote last year after Bush’s first public suggestion of accepting Palestinian statehood, violence in Israel is not likely to decrease if the Palestinians are given their own sovereign territory. “Today terrorism is reduced (Israel stops 90 percent of planned attacks) because the Israeli army goes into Palestinian territories to seize and stop terrorists. After statehood, this becomes an invasion of another country. The terrorists will have sanctuary. Every time Israel pursues them, the Security Council will be called into emergency session, and America will be censured unless it condemns this Israeli ‘invasion.’ The net effect will be more terrorism and increased resentment of American diplomacy” (Washington Post, June 20, 2002).

As the last two and a half years have amply proven, the Palestinians are host to several terrorist groups. It seems ironic that, while President Bush has declared war on states that support terror and harbor terrorists, he is now taking specific and concrete steps to create another one of them.

Again, the issue gets back to Arab acceptance of Israel. Clearly, any peace pact would be based upon the illusion of acceptance. But in reality, there would simply be one more Arab state in the region resenting Israel’s existence—another state with internal terrorist factions it could not control, intent on Israel’s destruction.

Israeli and Palestinian Motivations

Now, what is motivating the other players in the peace process? Why, firstly, would Israel get involved in more peace talks? The answer is, they are tired of war.

Having survived half a century with a commitment to preserving its national security through strength, Israel seeks an easier way. Its weariness is manifest even in the policy of limited military retaliation for Palestinian terrorist strikes: Israel wants to prove that it will not take terrorism lying down, yet it wants to avoid alienating the world if possible. It lacks the will to resolve the problem decisively, choosing instead a policy of low-level armed resistance.

The Palestinians certainly perceive the weakness in Israel’s tactic. “Wars begin when the attacker expects acceptable costs in relation to the benefits of fulfilling his objectives, whether rational or irrational, perceived or actual,” said Victor Davis Hanson to the Middle East Forum on May 6. “… Palestinians continue to murder Israeli civilians believing exhaustive violence will force their capitulation. They base this on Israel’s lack of military retaliation after 39 scud missiles landed within its territory during the first Gulf War; the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon; and the astonishing offer made at Camp David by the Barak government. These events have generally been perceived by the Arab world as indicators of a weak national character” (www.meforum.org).

Now virtually friendless, Israel is bearing pressure from all sides—even America—to cut a deal. It wants more than anything to believe that the Arabs can be simply bargained into giving up their goal of destroying the Jewish state—a ludicrous idea. There is an element of hopelessness in their commitment to the peace talks. Readers must watch Israel closely in this respect, because as we will see, this weariness is specifically prophesied to worsen to the point of desperation.

What about the Palestinians? What do they hope to achieve from more peace talks?

The Islamic world is rife with anti-U.S., anti-Israel sentiment. Generally it is a dull frustration; in some places, it is roiling anger. Do these peoples really want to see the U.S. successfully broker a peace pact between Israel and the Palestinians? Sadly, no. For that pact to be considered generally acceptable within Mideast Islamic populations, it would essentially need to eliminate the Jewish state! No deal considered workable to the U.S. and to Israel would ever meet with their approval.

So in what way do peace talks further their objectives? To the extremists among the Palestinians, the answer is that they don’t help at all. This is why terrorist violence will continue to be a problem. To the rest, there is a shrewd realization that after two and half years of fighting with little gain, clearly violence isn’t working in and of itself. It must be used in conjunction with negotiation. Perhaps the violence has worn the Israelis down, the thinking goes—softened them up for another round of peace talks.

The Palestinians largely have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from the resumption of peace talks. Because their only bargaining chip is abstract—a mere promise of security to Israel—they lose nothing permanent by signing whatever contract Israel puts in front of them. Still, deciding how much to accept and agree to requires some finesse, because, naturally, the better they play their hand, the greater the sympathy and support they retain from the international community.

Europe’s Motivation

Now, we cannot overlook one other critical player in this drama. What is Europe’s interest in the peace process?

First, it must be understood that Europe does not want to see the U.S. successfully bring peace to Israel.

The lead-up to the Iraq War exposed the true colors of the European Union’s relationship with the U.S., as France and Germany did everything they could to stonewall America’s war aims and frustrate its war plan. Although these countries are usually more guarded about their true objectives, they are staunchly against American superpower and want to limit its influence wherever possible. They didn’t want to see America win in Iraq—they do not want to see America win in Israel. No one could prevent America from achieving its simple war objectives in Iraq. But many people and factions can and do prevent the U.S. from achieving peace in Israel.

The vastness of U.S. power and hegemony is still a major issue in everyone’s minds except those of the Americans and the Israelis (to whom, the more powerful the U.S. is, the better). Joe de Courcy analyzed the situation this way: “Anti-Americanism in Europe, Russia, Latin America and Asia is growing, and there are signs of an incipient global anti-American coalition in the making, headed by Russia, China and France. … The importance of multilateralism is the key point of difference between the U.S. and this incipient anti-U.S. grouping, but U.S. support for Israel is also a defining issue” (Courcy’s Intelligence Review, May 14). Unfortunately for America, the Mideast peace process is where these two points of contention between the U.S. and the rest of the world coalesce.

Particularly in Europe’s mind, there is a massive chess game going on, with world power as the prize.

Europe wants to undermine the U.S., yet do it in a way that doesn’t make it look like a spoiler of Mideast peace. Of course, in this situation it isn’t too hard to do that, because the number of factors required for peace to prevail are extraordinary, and, even with all participants compromising all they could, it might still be impossible. When we watch the situation carefully, we easily spot how Europe is cannily undercutting the peace process.

Consider, for example, the power struggle going on between Arafat and the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas. Arafat is trying to marginalize Abbas and prove himself indispensible to the peace process; President Bush is doing everything possible to legitimize Abbas as a leader, including visiting with him personally—something he would never have done with Arafat.

Thus, the perfect opportunity for spoilage opens itself to Europe: It simply continues to speak and work with Yasser Arafat, and couches its defiance of everything the U.S. is trying to do in elevated language about the importance of not trampling on the will of the Palestinian people!

But Europe’s strategy is borne of something even deeper than mere anti-Americanism. Europe has a historical vested interest in gaining control in the Mideast—particularlyJerusalem.

Consider the question from a perspective of pure self-interest. What does Israel have to offer the world? Nothing—except Jerusalem. (What do the Arabs have to offer? Oil.) Is the U.S. interested in controlling Jerusalem? Not at all. The U.S. supports Israel because of their similarities in culture. There is a simple issue of loyalty at stake.

On the other hand, Europe, particularly Germany, harbors historical and present hostility toward the Jews. Anti-Semitism continues to be a black mark on Europe to this day—finding its way even into serious public discourse and political campaigns. The fact is, Europe has no interest in supporting the Jews—except insofar as they desire to appear fair and balanced as an alternative mediator of Mideast peace. But why do they desire that? Intelligent people could debate this matter forever, but the Bible gives us the real reason: a long-held yearning to conquer the Holy Land!

Effects

Having examined what is going on in the minds of the various parties involved, now let’s use the outline of Bible prophecy to speculate how the landscape might look after this latest peace initiative has gone the way of all its failed predecessors.

In the U.S., some analysts say President Bush has little to lose in undertaking this effort. If it fails, at least he could say he tried, and no one would blame him for failing to resolve an impossible situation. That may be, but considering the fact that campaigning for the 2004 presidential election is already underway, it seems fair to say that the president’s opponents—not to mention the liberal American media—will exploit any failure to the utmost.

The divisions within the U.S. are great, and loud is the criticism of Bush even over what many would consider to be his successes. Right now it is Bush’s foreign policy that is earning him about two-thirds approval among Americans—in spite of a widely perceived failure in his domestic policy. But what would happen if problems continued to simmer in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bush also proved himself powerless to bring Mideast peace? It seems unlikely that his approval ratings would withstand too many such failures. The bold nature of Bush’s foreign policy comes with political risk.

And will the next president actually be tougher in protecting American interests? Will the next president command greater respect among other nations? Be more effective in demanding concessions from the two sides of the Mideast conflict? It is unlikely.

But regardless of whether or not the current president remains in office, continued U.S. failure to achieve stability in Israel will mean it is increasingly sidelined as a peacemaker. This is exactly what Europe is hoping will happen.

As for the Palestinians, another failure in negotiation will not alter their basic strategy of pressuring Israel through violence.

Among the Jews of Israel, the more failure there is in the peace process, the more weary the people become. Like the ancient, biblical nation of Israel, it is increasingly trusting in men—even, to its own peril, in enemy nations—rather than the all-powerful God. As contradictory as it may seem, the longer the situation prevails without a solution, the likelier Israel is to pin its hopes on this catastrophic negotiation policy. And the more inadequate U.S. measures prove to be, the weaker and more desperate Israel will become for an alternate mediator to turn to.

Biblical prophecy illuminates Israel’s deplorable posture. As Trumpet Editor in Chief Gerald Flurry has explained, the Bible refers to the present nation of Israel as “Judah” (hence the name Jew). Hosea 5:13 reveals the true nature of the peace process by calling it Judah’s “wound.” “When … Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian [the biblical name for modern Germany], and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.” Judah’s wound is incurable—and it takes them right into the waiting arms of Germany—its historical archenemy—and the European Union.

This is how Europe will be the ultimate beneficiary of the doomed present peace effort!

Europe is effectively using a variation of the same tactic it employed in order to conquer the Balkans—allowing a crisis to devolve into seeming hopelessness, and then stepping in to offer itself as the solution.

The well-known prophecy of an end-time “abomination of desolation” (i.e. Matt. 24:15) is describing a European “peacekeeping” army moving into Israel—most likely at the invitation of the Jews! “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20). That army will be directed by a powerful church with religious designs on the holiest of cities. And what will appear to be Jerusalem’s ultimate salvation will suddenly become Israel’s bloodiest holocaust!

Pity the poor Jews who fail to recognize the resurrected spirit of the Holocaust, as events are marching inexorably in this very direction.

Yet, as eager as they are to invite the EU in, even the Palestinians are wholly unaware of Europe’s real intent. Prophecy reveals that they too will be blindsided when Europe’s armies march into the Holy Land.

“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south [an Islamic consortium that could include a Palestinian contingent] push at him: and the king of the north [the German-led European Union] shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships [probably launched from a European outpost in Cyprus]; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land [Israel], and many countries shall be overthrown …” (Dan. 11:40-41).

This is the terrifying end awaiting the inhabitants of the land of Israel! This is the terrible trap into which the Jews of Israel are directly walking! This will be the final “peacemaking” legacy left by today’s rising unholy European empire! A worse massacre than Jerusalem has ever seen.

This is the terrifying truth behind the peace process. Events are hurtling toward this crisis at the close. Time is desperately short. The Trumpet is to serve as a warning. God promises protection for the truly repentant. “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11).