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Of Ballrooms and Borders
Israel - Middle East
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Wendy Wippel

It's 2013, and Abbas and Israel again begin the dance (it's been five years) towards the consummation of a real peace, driven primarily by pressure from European powers and the US.  Both of the dance partners are already expressing little hope of an acceptable finish.  Why?  One word: Borders.  And one number:1967.

Abbas, head of the PLO has refused to agree to talks as long as Israeli settlements remain in the Palestinian state (of his dreams), and the his Palestinian contingent insists that they will not come to the table until the border issue is on it.  Netanyahu, for his part, has reluctantly agreed to a Palestinian state.

If there's to be a Palestinian state, it would have to have borders, right?  So borders would have to be a topic for discussion, wouldn't they?  So what's the problem? 

Abbas wants the borders reset to 1967 lines.  And to add insult to injury, Kerry, according to two senior Palestinian officials, has given Abbas assurance-- in writing-- that the US will back that demand.  Others involved deny that claim.

But it has precedent.  FDR, agreeing to support Israeli statehood in 1945, secretly promised King Ibn Saud, of Saudi Arabia, that we would not agree to statehood without Saudi permission.  They finally demanded it in writing, and FDR complied on April 12, 1945.  He dropped dead, exactly a week later. 

(I'll leave interpretation of that little historical tidbit to you, dear reader.  (But you might want to check out what God promised Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 12:3)

I report, you decide.  So who knows what Kerry did or did not do.

But another log hit the fire Saturday, in the form of Baroness Catherine Ashton.  Ashton is currently serving as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Basically a stuffy British title for the Grand Poobah of dealing with all those not British.

She was appointed to that position in 2009, to the shock of, well, pretty much everybody.  London newspaper The Economist described her as an unknown with no political record or foreign policy experience.

The Spectator called her unqualified for every job she had ever had and offered the reason for her appointment as a slavish devotion to political correctness.

The Guardian quoted an anonymous source who called her a "garden gnome", ostensibly meaning a face in the landscape not expected to actually contribute to anything.

The gnome, apparently, didn't get the memo.

Ashton is behind the release Saturday of a new European union directive that lays down,

"These guidelines set out the conditions under which the Commission will implement key requirements for the award of EU support to Israeli entities or to their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967. Their aim is to ensure the respect of EU positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967," said the statement. The rules also include the EU decision of not recognizing Israeli occupation in the territories, the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967."

Translation: None of the 28 current members of the EU can do business with any Israeli company that has any association with those areas.  Because, according to the directive,  they don't really belong to Israel because they weren't Israel's before 1967.  Otherwise? No EU country can give Israel any contracts any scholarships, any research funding,  you get the idea.  Israel is cut off unless they agree to give back the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

Including East Jerusalem.

Borders aside, most Israelis support a two-state solution.  But not one in which the Arab State owns any part of Jerusalem.  The debate in Israel has coined a new phrase for the borders proposed: "Auschwitz Borders."

Called that because:

A) at 9 miles across at one point, the borders are barely bigger than Auschwitz, and

B) those borders would guarantee pretty much the same result.

The good news is that Ashton's directive has pretty much shut down any hope of real peace talks, because with the weight of the EU and the US apparently behind him, Abbas knows he doesn't really have to compromise.

With the weight of law (for what that's worth anymore) behind him, Netanyahu knows he shouldn't have to.  The 1967 borders resulted from an agreement between the two sides.  And that agreement was expressly defined to stand until the parties both agreed to something else.

More importantly?  Israel can't agree to "Auschwitz borders" which, with today's military technology, would guarantee their obliteration.  So it won't happen.

And thus the stalemate, before the dance has really even started.

Interior Minister Gideon Saar told Israel Radio that the chances of an agreement were not good.

“The Palestinians are not ready to make the historic decision to end the conflict between them and us.”

And a member of Abbas' Fatah Party agreed:

“We are skeptical about these talks because the Israelis are not going to stop building in the settlements." 

If the treaty doesn't happen under Kerry's watch?  Likely the pressure will continue, with Israel painted further  and further into a corner.  We can certainly understand how, eventually, Israel will be forced into that fateful treaty --the one that, according to Daniel, will open up the chapter that the Lord himself described as unlike any other it had faced before.

And in that day, interestingly, the Bible describes a scenario very much like the one we are witnessing now:

"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples..." (Zechariah 12:2 NKJV)

The whole world, at one point, will be drawn together to surround Jerusalem, and lay seige to it

And we know what will happen.  For two reasons:

History: Attacks on Israel usually end with the nation putting another holiday on its calendar.

Prophecy: We know how this ultimately ends.  Zechariah continued in verse 3:

"And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. In that day…says the Lord, “In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place—Jerusalem….It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem." (Zechariah 12:3,4,6,9)

(Interesting that verse emphasizes that Jerusalem is her own place, isn't it? )

Is this the beginning of that end?  Who knows.  Ashton intended to unveil the directive several weeks back, but, reportedly,  Kerry persuaded her to wait.  And as of today, an army of European, Israeli, and North American lawyers have launched a counterattack.

And even if Israel-- improbably-- did agree to 1967 borders (as they have before) their adversaries may walk away.  They have before, because, as they have admitted before, no Jewish state is acceptable.

What we do know is that God is not a man that He should lie.  What He has predicted will come to pass.  And He's made promises to Israel:

"Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice." (Jeremiah 31:4)

"Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together; For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow." (Jeremiah 31:13)

And there's a reason to dance.

About Wendy Wippel

Last week: Missional Myopia

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