Palestine: Its Origin, Composition and Future

Prof. Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (February 2011)

Intense international interest in the creation of a Palestinian state within the traditional territory of Israel is heading for a climax in the very near future. Major world powers as well as international bodies are directly involved with the establishment of such a state, thereby raising its significance to a key factor in efforts to secure peace and a new balance of power in the Middle East as well as the whole world.

However, serious fears are already expressed that the entire process of promoting the emergence of Palestine will not only be to the detriment of Israel but in fact threaten its very existence. From a biblical point of view, a future world without the physically and spiritually restored Israel will be an evil world that will open the way for the global control of the Antichrist. This new world will be utterly anti-Jewish and anti-Christian.

These fears are corroborated by the fact that the evil forces which drive the “Palestinian Plan” are far-reaching and intent on permanently changing the political, economic and religious landscape of the world. These forces will have an impact on global events far outside the Middle East, and have a strong potential of laying the foundations for an entirely new world order. All countries already show strong signs of taking decisions and adopting policies that will spur on such reforms as would change the world and determine their own destiny in an ominous way.

We will first review the origin of the name “Palestine” in order to determine the legitimacy of the present process of establishing such a state. The further implications of this drastic move will then be considered.

Origin of the name Palestine

The following is an abridged excerpt from the Wikipedia article titled, “Palestine”:

The name “Palestine” is the cognate of an ancient word meaning “Philistines” or “Land of the Philistines”. The Hebrew name Peleshet, usually translated as Philistia in English, is used in the Bible to denote the southern coastal region that was inhabited by the Philistines to the west of the ancient Kingdom of Judah.

In the 5th century BC, Herodotus wrote in Ancient Greek of a district of Syria, called Palaistinê, whence Palaestina, whence Palestine.

Palaestina was commonly used to refer to the coastal region and shortly thereafter, the whole of the area inland to the west of the Jordan River. The latter extension occurred when the Roman authorities, following the suppression of the Bar Kochba Revolt in the 2nd century AD, renamed “Provincia Judea” to “Syria Palaestina”, in order to complete the dissociation with Judea.

During the Byzantine period, the entire region (Syria Palestine, Samaria, and the Galilee) was named Palaestina. The Byzantines also renamed an area of land including the Negev, Sinai, and the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula as Palaestina Salutaris.

The Arabic word for Palestine is Philistine (commonly transcribed in English as Filistin or Falastin). When the Arabs took over Greater Syria in the 7th century, place names that were in use by the Byzantine administration before them, generally continued to be used.

The use of the name “Palestine” in English became more common after the European renaissance. The name was not used in Ottoman times (1517–1917). Most of Christian Europe referred to the area as the Holy Land. The name “Palestine” was officially revived by the British after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and applied to the territory that was placed under British Mandate.

Some other terms that have been used to refer to all or part of this land include Canaan, Greater Israel, Greater Syria, the Holy Land, Judea, Israel, Kingdom of Israel, Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael or Ha’aretz), and Zion. The events of the Four Gospels of the Bible took place almost entirely in this country, which in Christian tradition thereafter became known as The Holy Land. According to Biblical tradition, the United Kingdom of Israel was established by the Israelite tribes with Saul as its first king in 1020 BC. In 1000 BC, Jerusalem was made the capital of King David’s kingdom. The First Temple was constructed in this period by King Solomon.

The end of the 19th century saw the beginning of Zionist immigration. The First Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) was the first modern widespread wave of Zionist aliyah. Jews who migrated to Palestine in this wave came mostly from Eastern Europe and from Yemen. This wave of aliyah began in 1881-82 and lasted until 1903. An estimated 25,000 to 35,000 Jews immigrated during the First Aliyah. The First Aliyah laid the cornerstone for Jewish settlement in Israel and created several settlements such as Rishon LeZion, Rosh Pina, Zikhro Ya’aqov and Gedera. Tel Aviv was founded on land purchased from Bedouins north of Jaffa.

The Second Aliyah took place between 1904 and 1914, during which approximately 40,000 Jews immigrated, mostly from Russia and Poland, and some from Yemen. The Second Aliyah immigrants were primarily idealists, inspired by the revolutionary ideals then sweeping the Russian Empire who sought to create a communal agricultural settlement system in Palestine. They thus founded the kibbutz movement. The first kibbutz, Degania, was founded in 1909. Tel Aviv was founded at that time, though its founders were not necessarily from the new immigrants. The Second Aliyah is largely credited with the Revival of the Hebrew language and establishing it as the standard language for Jews in Israel.

Ottoman rule over the eastern Mediterranean lasted until World War I when the Ottomans sided with the German Empire and the Central Powers. During World War I, the Ottomans were driven from much of the region by the British Empire during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

Under the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, it was envisioned that most of Palestine, when freed from Ottoman control, would become an international zone not under direct French or British colonial control. Shortly thereafter, British foreign minister Arthur Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. A British-led force commanded by Edmund Allenby, captured Jerusalem on 9 December 1917 and occupied the whole Palestine following the defeat of Turkish forces.

Great Britain administered Palestine on behalf of the League of Nations between 1920 and 1948, a period referred to as the British Mandate. The mandate included a large region east of the River Jordan, referred to as Transjordan.

Small groups of Arabs (Muslims as well as Christians) inhabited Palestine, together with small Jewish communities. At that stage, the Arabs in Palestine had no national identity as a distinct people, and identified with nearby Arab countries such as Syria. Not all of them were satisfied with the mandate given to Britain and instead sought unification with Syria. In February 1919 several Moslem and Christian groups from Jaffa and Jerusalem met and adopted a platform which endorsed unity with Syria and opposition to Zionism. In April 1920 violent Arab disturbances against the Jews in Jerusalem occurred which became to be known as the 1920 Palestine riots. The riots followed rising tensions in Arab-Jewish relations over the implications of Zionist immigration. The British military administration’s erratic response failed to contain the rioting, which continued for four days. As a result of the events, trust between the British, Jews, and Arabs eroded. One consequence was that the Jewish community increased moves towards an autonomous infrastructure and security apparatus parallel to that of the British administration.

Palestine and Transjordan were incorporated, under different legal and administrative arrangements, into the Mandate for Palestine issued by the League of Nations to Great Britain on 29 September 1923. Even before the Mandate came into legal effect in 1923, British terminology sometimes used “Palestine” for the part west of the Jordan River and “Trans-Jordan” (or “Transjordania”) for the part east of the Jordan River.

On a 1927 British Mandate stamp of Rachel’s tomb, the word “Palestine” is shown in English, Arabic, and Hebrew – the latter includes an acronym for Eretz Yisrael (The Land of Israel).

The first reference to the Palestinians, without qualifying them as Arabs, is to be found in a document of the Permanent Executive Committee, composed of Muslims and Christians, presenting a series of formal complaints to the British authorities on 26 July 1928.

Under the British Mandate, the country developed economically and culturally. In 1919 the Jewish community founded a centralized Hebrew school system, and the following year established the Assembly of Representatives, the Jewish National Council and the Histadrut labour federation. The Technion university was founded in 1924, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1925.

As for Arab institutions, the office of “Mufti of Jerusalem”, traditionally limited in authority and geographical scope, was refashioned by the British into that of “Grand Mufti of Palestine”. Furthermore, a Supreme Muslim Council (SMC) was established and given various duties, such as the administration of religious endowments and the appointment of religious judges and local muftis. During the revolt of the late 1930’s, the Arab Higher Committee was established as the central political organ of the Arab community of Palestine.

In the years 1936-1939 the Arabs participated in an uprising and protest against British rule and against mass Jewish immigration. The revolt did not achieve its goals, although it is credited with signifying the birth of the Arab Palestinian identity. It is generally credited with forcing the issuance of the White Paper of 1939 which renounced Britain’s intent of creating a Jewish National Home in Palestine, as proclaimed in the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

When the Second World War broke out, the Jewish population sided with Britain. As in most of the Arab world, there was no unanimity amongst the Palestinian Arabs as to their position regarding the combatants in World War II. Some of them, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, sided with Germany and mobilised troops to support the Waffen SS in Bosnia. About 6,000 Palestinian Arabs and 30,000 Palestinian Jews joined the British forces.

In the years following World War II, Britain’s control over Palestine became increasingly tenuous. World public opinion turned against Britain as a result of the British policy of limiting Jewish immigration by preventing large numbers of Holocaust survivors from reaching Palestine, sending them instead to Cyprus internment camps, or even back to Germany, as in the case of Exodus 1947.

In early 1947 the British Government announced their desire to terminate the Mandate, and asked the United Nations General Assembly to make recommendations regarding the future of the country. The British Administration declined to accept the responsibility for implementing any solution that wasn’t acceptable to both the Jewish and the Arab communities, or to allow other authorities to take over responsibility for public security prior to the termination of its mandate on 15 May 1948.

On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13 with 10 abstentions, in favour of a plan to partition the territory into separate Jewish and Arab states, under economic union, with the Greater Jerusalem area (encompassing Bethlehem) coming under international control. Zionist leaders, including the Jewish Agency, accepted the plan, while Palestinian Arab leaders rejected it and all independent Muslim and Arab states voted against it. Almost immediately, sectarian violence erupted and spread, killing hundreds of Arabs, Jews and British over the ensuing months.

The rapid evolution of events precipitated into a Civil War. Arab volunteers of the Arab Liberation Army entered Palestine to fight with the Palestinians, but the April–May offensive of Yishuv forces defeated the Arab forces and Arab Palestinian society collapsed. Some 300,000 to 350,000 Palestinians caught up in the turmoil fled or were driven from their homes.

On 14 May, the Jewish Agency declared the independence of the state of Israel. The neighbouring Arab states intervened to prevent the partition and support the Palestinian Arab population. While Transjordan (which later became Jordan) took control of territory designated for the future Arab State in Palestine, Syrian, Iraqi and Egyptian expeditionary forces attacked Israel without success. The most intensive battles were waged between the Jordanian and Israeli forces over the control of Jerusalem.

On June 11, a truce was accepted by all parties. Israel used the lull to undertake a large-scale reinforcement of its army. During the first 6 months of 1949, negotiations between the belligerents came to terms over armistice lines that delimited Israel’s borders. On the other side, no Palestinian Arab state was founded: Jordan annexed the Arab territories of the Mandatory regions of Samaria and Judea (today known as the West Bank), as well as East Jerusalem, while the Gaza strip came under Egyptian administration.

On the same day that the State of Israel was announced, the Arab League announced that it would set up a single Arab civil administration throughout Palestine, and launched an attack on the new Israeli state. The All-Palestine government was declared in Gaza on 1 October 1948, partly as an Arab League move to limit the influence of Transjordan over the Palestinian issue. The former mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was appointed as president. The government was recognised by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, but not by Transjordan or any non-Arab country. It was little more than an Egyptian protectorate and had negligible influence or funding. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the area allocated to the Palestinian Arabs and the international zone of Jerusalem were occupied by Israel and the neighbouring Arab states in accordance with the terms of the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Palestinian Arabs living in the Gaza Strip or Egypt were issued with All-Palestine passports until 1959, when Gamal Abdul Nasser, president of Egypt, issued a decree that annulled the All-Palestine government.

In 1950 Transjordan was renamed the “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” to include officially those portions of Palestine annexed by King Abdullah in 1949.

In the course of the Six Day War in June 1967, Israel captured the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

From the 1960s onward, the term “Palestine” was regularly used in political contexts. The Palestine Liberation Organization has enjoyed status as a non-member observer at the United Nations since 1974, and continues to represent “Palestine” there.

The 2.4 million West Bank Palestinians (according to Palestinian evaluations) live primarily in four blocs centred in Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, and Jericho. In 2005, Israel withdrew its army and all the Israeli settlers were evacuated from the Gaza Strip, in keeping with Ariel Sharon’s plan for unilateral disengagement, and control over the area was transferred to the Palestinian Authority. However, due to the Hamas-Fatah conflict, and to local elections, the Gaza Strip has been in control of Hamas since 2006. Even after this disengagement, the UN, Human Rights Watch, and many other international bodies and NGOs consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip because Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, and does not allow the movement of goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea. (End of abridged excerpt from Wikipedia article).

A name born from hatred

It is very obvious from the above account that the name “Palestine” is derived from Philistia, the land of the ancient Philistines, which was situated in the southern coastal regions of Israel, more or less in the area of the present Gaza strip. The Philistines disappeared as a distinct group by the late 5th century BC. The application of the term “Palestine” to the entire region west of the Jordan River was an ill-conceived and propagandistic decision by the Romans in an effort to undermine the national interests of Israel by depriving them from any rights to their land.

Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman Empire in AD 70, and 97 000 of the survivors were taken captive. This was the beginning of the world‑wide dispersion of the Jews (the Diaspora). Despite their shattering defeat, the remaining Jews again tried to restore the country. A mere 62 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, in 132 AD, they staged the Bar Kochba revolt against their Roman oppressors. 580 000 Jews were killed in this revolt which lasted for three and a half years. Practically all the remaining survivors were driven away. The Romans even pulled a ploughshare over the ruined Mount Zion, thereby fulfilling a prophecy in Micah 3:12. Jerusalem was left behind demolished and desolate.

The subsequent changing of the territorial name of “Province of Judea” to “Syria Palestine” was a deliberate attempt by the Romans during the second century AD, to alienate Israel from their national heritage and to obliterate their name in the Middle East. Names such as Canaan, Israel and Judea that were firmly established for centuries (in die case of Canaan for more than two millennia) were ruled out in favour of Palestine, the land of the extinct Philistines, and also erroneously linking Palestine to Syria.

Nevertheless, the campaign of hatred against Israel, as well as the attempted genocide against this nation, was heartily approved by the surrounding nations who all spontaneously started using the name Palestine when referring to the land of the subjected or dispersed Israelites. This name was in general use up to the restoration of Israel in 1948. But this was only the name of a territory and not of a distinct people who referred to themselves as Palestinians. Arabs of Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and Transjordanian extraction roamed the area, while scattered Jewish families also lived there. It was only in 1928 that certain Arabs living in Palestine started referring to themselves as Palestinians. Because of this artificially created name there were even Palestinian scholars who questioned the validity of the term Palestine. Dave Hunt says:

“As late as the 1950s Arabs refused to be called Palestinians. To the British Peel Commission in 1937, a local Arab leader testified, ‘There is no such country as Palestine. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented.’ Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, testified to an Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in 1946, ‘There is no such thing as Palestine in history – absolutely not!’ To the UN Security Council in 1956, Ahmed Shukairy declared, ‘It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria.’ Eight years later, in 1964, Shukairy became the founding chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No ‘Palestinian,’ like Arafat, he was born in Cairo” (The Islamic Threat to Israel, Part 1 – 2005.01.14).

After the 1956 war against Egypt, the political and military situation in Israel soon again became critical. The unceasing hostility from across Israel’s borders gave rise to strained relations with neighbouring countries. The Arabs refused to conclude peace with Israel or to recognise the new state. Border incidents became the order of the day. All Israel’s efforts to defuse the explosive situation and ease the tension, had failed.

During this phase, and leading up to the Six Day War of 1967, an internal threat arose from the ranks of the Arabs within Israel. They regarded it as politically expedient to identify themselves as Palestinians who should strive to regain their so called ancient homeland. Consequently, they started rallying themselves under the banner of a deprived Palestinian people who are called upon by various Muslim leaders to fight the Zionist and imperialist forces that illegally occupy their land. Many Arabs form surrounding countries were invited to come to Palestine and join forces in the struggle against the Zionist occupation. They also, overnight, became Palestinians.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established and they accepted a highly revolutionary constitution. The following articles, or sections of articles, clearly demonstrate this approach:

Article 7. It is a national duty to bring up individual Palestinians in an Arab revolutionary manner. All means of information and education must be adopted in order to acquaint the Palestinian with his country in the most profound manner, both spiritual and material… He must be prepared for the armed struggle and ready to sacrifice his wealth and his life in order to win back his homeland and bring about its liberation.

Article 8. The phase in their history through which the Palestinian people are now living, is that of national struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Thus the conflicts among the Palestinian national forces are secondary, and should be ended for the sake of the basic conflict that exists between the forces of Zionism and of imperialism on the one hand, and the Palestinian Arab people on the other. On this basis, the Palestinian masses, regardless of whether they are residing in the national homeland or in a diaspora, constitute… one national front working for the retrieval of Palestine and its liberation through armed struggle.

Article 9. Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle, and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it.

Article 15. The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty and its attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine…

Article 22. Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world. It is racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist, and colonial in its aims, and Fascist in its methods. Israel is the instrument of the Zionist movement, and a geographical base for world imperialism placed strategically in the midst of the Arab homeland to combat the hopes of the Arab nation for liberation, unity, and progress. Israel is a constant source of threat vis-à-vis peace in the Middle East and the whole world. Since the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian people look for the support of all the progressive and peaceful forces and urge them all, irrespective of their affiliations and beliefs, to offer the Palestinian people all aid and support in their just struggle for the liberation of their homeland.

Article 23. The demands of security and peace, as well as the demands of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations… (End of excerpts from the PLO constitution).

The hatred of Jews is clearly evident from these statements, as well as the fact that no future of any nature is envisioned for Jews in Palestine. According to Palestinians, their land comprises the whole region between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan, bordering on Lebanon in the north and Egypt in the south. No provision is constitutionally made for a so-called two-state solution, and therefore no recognition is given to Israel.

Any subsequent decisions to recognise Israel and enter into peace accords with them were justified in terms of a long-term strategy to ultimately drive all the Jews from their land. The former PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, said: “We will take Israel piece by piece by peace.”

Palestinianism became synonymous with hatred of Jews and the total annihilation of Israel, whether by peace accords that demand big concessions from Israel, terrorist activities, full-scale war, or a combination of these methods. The revolutionary cause of the Palestinians was soon accepted, financed and supported by all Muslim countries, particularly those in the Middle East. The creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital became the vision of all Muslims as they see it as a global control centre for Islam’s future world empire.

International support

As time passed, hatred of the Jews increased world-wide. (The author of this article prefers not to use the term Anti-Semitism as the Arab nations are also Semitic peoples, and they are obviously not turned against themselves. This term was popularised by Hitler in the 1930s at a time when Israel was the only important Semitic nation). The Jews are still singled out as the real aggressors who are the cause of all the problems and warfare in the Middle East.

Even the former friends of Israel, like the US and England, are gradually turning their backs on the Jewish state by rendering more and more support to the Palestinians. They insist on a two-state solution that demands, among others, Israel’s withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, which means that large parts of Samaria and Judea, including East-Jerusalem (the entire West Bank region) be handed over to the Palestinians.

John Haupt says: “It must grieve the Lord no end that the Jewish state has already given so much of her inheritance away to the Arabs. Christians are grieved, even vexed, when they now see biblical places like Bethlehem, Bethany, Hebron and Jericho in Palestinian hands. God led Israel to triumph in the Six-Day War (1967) so that she could reclaim all of her inheritance, but her past and present leaders have been duped by their so-called friends into believing that they can trade land for peace. Together, they are now planning to establish a separate Palestinian state within the geographical boundaries of this very land. They hope that this will finally appease the Arab world, but such foolish thinking is tantamount to committing suicide” (The End of the Matter! A Christian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict, 2010: p. 65).

Much pressure has been exerted on Israel to make these concessions.

Now, at the beginning of 2011, preparations for the establishment of a Palestinian state before the end of this year have reached an advanced stage. The Palestinian Authority is not deterred by the fact that their negotiations with Israel have stalled and allegedly plan a unilateral declaration of independence. They have assessed the international diplomatic climate and are confident that all the major powers will support their move.

In an article, America, Russia implicitly recognize Palestinian State (Israel Today, Jan. 19, 2011), Ryan Jones writes:

“The United States and Russia followed the example of a growing number of South American countries by taking steps to openly recognize a Palestinian Arab state on the ancient Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria. Speaking to the press in Jericho during his visit to the Palestinian Authority, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev noted that Russia had already recognized a Palestinian state when Yasser Arafat first declared independence in 1988. ‘We have supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital since the last century, and we still support it,’ said Medvedev.

“Palestinian officials declared Medvedev’s remarks to be historic and graciously thanked Russia for joining the chorus of voices recognizing a Palestinian Arab state in the absence of a peace agreement with Israel. The Russian leader’s statement was ‘an historic move to make the Palestinians proud for a very long time to come,’ said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. Medvedev’s visit was also notable as it was the first time that the leader of a major world power had visited only the Palestinian Authority without first touring Israel and meeting with its leaders. Medvedev backed up his words by actually treating the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign state.

“Hours later, the Obama Administration allowed the Palestinians to raise their flag over the Palestinian Authority diplomatic mission in Washington for the first time ever, symbolically transforming the location into a national embassy. Republican officials were furious with the move. Voicing the concern of many, including many in Israel, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) noted that ‘raising this flag in DC is part of the Palestinian leadership’s scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition of a yet-to-be-created Palestinian state, while refusing to directly negotiate with Israel, or accept the existence of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state.’ Ileana, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Palestinians believe they can continue ‘extracting concessions without being required to meet international commitments,’ and that Obama is playing right into their hands.” (End of quote).

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declared in January 2011 that the majority of the international community will recognize an independent state by September. Speaking to a group of Palestinian journalists, al-Maliki said that the Spanish Foreign Minister had assured him the European Union will announce their recognition of Palestine at the beginning of September 2011. Palestinian leaders are continuing a major international diplomatic push to encourage world leaders to recognize them as an independent nation with pre-1967 borders.

According to the Jerusalem Post of Jan. 23, 2011, Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat confirmed his insistence that a Palestinian state will be created soon. He said, “A Palestinian state is coming, with 1967 borders and with a capital in East Jerusalem, and Israel cannot stop it anymore.”

President Obama and his Administration are strongly supporting this effort behind the scenes. Reportedly, Mr. Obama personally promised King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that he would force Israel to hand over Judea and Samaria along with East Jerusalem to the Palestinians before the end of his first term in office.

Mahmoud Abbas, however, said that the PA will not make a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. In an interview with Al-Jazeera the PA president warns that if no progress is made by September there could be dangerous repercussions which could lead to an Intifada.

Whose land is this?

The calling of Israel started with Abraham, who is the progenitor of Israel. God said to him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants for ever (Gen. 13:14-15). This promise of the land was later confirmed to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 26:3, 28:13).

In a very special sense they are the Chosen People of God. He called them to be a holy people and led them to the Promised Land; He then dispersed them among the nations because of their disobedience; and it is the same immutable covenant God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who will restore Israel to the land of their fathers in the end-time. Note how explicitly Israel’s ownership of the land is stated in this scripture:

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you… Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezek. 36:24-28).

The land to which Israel returns after their long exile is still called Israel by God and not Palestine: “Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel” (Ezek. 11:17).

Keep in mind that “Israel is the major topic of the Bible. The word ‘Israel’ occurs 2,565 times in 2,293 verses. More than enough prophecies have already been fulfilled in Israel’s unique history to prove that the God of Israel (203 times) is the true God” (Hunt: Judgement Day Approaching, Feb. 15, 2010). In connection with the Palestinian claim to the land, Dave Hunt says:

“The land to which God brought Abraham and which He gave to him and to his heirs, was called ‘Canaan’ (Gen 12:5, 6-8; 13:7-17, etc.). There was no such land as Palestine and no such people as Palestinians. Its early inhabitants were Kenites, Kenizites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizites, Rephaims, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites (Gen 15:19-21). God never promised anything called ‘Palestine’ to Abraham and to his heirs. The only land He promised was Canaan: ‘And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God’ (Gen 17:8) … Even had there been a land of Palestine and Palestinians, the Arabs could not possibly be descended from them. They claim descent from Ishmael, who was certainly not a Palestinian. His father, Abraham, was from Ur of the Chaldees, and his mother, Hagar, was an Egyptian. Neither of them was one of the original inhabitants of Canaan, nor even remotely related to such a people. The land was already settled when Abraham with his wife, Sarah, and her maid, Hagar, arrived there” (The Islamic Threat to Israel, Part 1 – 2005.01.14).

Judgement against Israel’s enemies

Israel’s divine mandate on the land surely implies that God will judge those nations who fail to recognize Israel’s biblical right to the land, and who are guilty of persecuting Israel, driving her from her God-given heritage, or trying to divide the land between Israel and her Arab enemies. God says: “For behold, in those days and at that time when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgement with them there on account of my people, my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up my land” (Joel. 3:1-2).

Dave Hunt says: “In Zechariah 12:2-3, God declares: ‘Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.’ This is an amazing prophecy not only that Jerusalem, which was then in ruins, would become a burden to the whole world, but that all of Israel’s neighbours would be united against her. They have fought one another in the past. Yet today, for the first time in history, ‘all the people round about’ are united by Islam to destroy Israel. For more than 50 years, Israel’s neighbours have launched surprise attacks against her and she has proved too strong militarily, even though they outnumber her forty to one. God said, ‘I [will] make...Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood…and they shall devour all the people round about…’ (Zech 12:6). Soundly defeated every time, her Muslim neighbours feign a desire for peace, hoping to deceive and ultimately destroy her – a strategy established by Muhammad. The real battle is not between Arabs and Jews, but between Allah and Yahweh. There is no question of the outcome, but it will be costly for both sides: Israel will be severely punished for rebellion, and her enemies will be destroyed. Exactly as foretold, Jerusalem is a burden to all people of the world. More than 60,000 individual votes have been cast in the UN against Israel. This tiny nation with one 1,000th of the world’s population has occupied one-third of the United Nations’ time – a burden indeed! … Scripture declares that every nation in the world will join together to invade Israel in the last days and be destroyed in the battle of Armageddon: ‘I will gather all nations [surely all includes America] against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken… Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations…’ (Zech 12:9; 14:2-4.) … There is no more appropriate place and way to destroy the nations that have abused Israel than when they, in the spirit of Satan, come to effect once and for all what Hitler called the ‘final solution to the Jewish problem’.” (Judgement Day Approaching, Feb. 15, 2010).

The religious dimension of the conflict

It is obvious that the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has a very strong religious base. Satan is the adversary of God and opposes God in every possible way. He wishes to rule the universe and also to be worshipped as the God of this world (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4). To be able to do this, he needs a false monotheistic religion headed by one God. This “God” needs the full collaboration of prophets who proclaim a false peace but at the same time will not hesitate to use military means as well as the harshest forms of torture and violence to subject all people to the dictates of their God. Islam is such a monotheistic religion, and its heartland is well positioned in the Middle East to fulfil such a role.

Islam offers the world another Creator-God, Allah, who explicitly states that he has no son through whom he revealed himself to the world – only a prophet, Mohammed. The commands of this ‘other God’ are not recorded in the Bible but in the Koran. The main method of spreading this religion is through preaching the Koran’s account of Allah’s dealings with mankind, as well as his demands for worship. In the process, a strong stand is taken against the Bible-based monotheistic faith of the Jews and Christians.

Islam regards all non-Muslims as infidels and often in history resorted to intimidation, violence and military means to subject infidels all over the world to the authority of Allah. Even so-called moderate Muslims defend the Koran, which clearly incites violence against Jews and Christians. Involvement with a holy war (jihad) is seen as a holy mission to enforce Allah’s authority upon non-believers, and also to punish them for deviant behaviour and blasphemy.

To most of the Palestinians and their radical supporters – notably Lebanon, Syria and Iran – it is fully justified to wage a holy war of annihilation against Israel and their Christian supporters. This campaign is not only aimed at eradicating all opposition, but also to lay hold of the sanctuaries of the true God and dedicating them to Allah. This implies that Israel should be obliterated and their main sanctuary, the Temple Mount, dedicated to the worship of Allah alone. Israel knows what the intentions of their evil enemies are:

“Do not keep silent, O God! And do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You... have taken crafty counsel against Your people... They have said: Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more. For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You: the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagarites; Gebal, Ammon and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also joined with them... [they] said, Let us take for ourselves the [houses or habitation] of God for a possession. O my God, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind!” (Ps. 83:1-8,12-13).

As an alternate religion intent on replacing Judaism and Christianity, Islam has committed itself to replacing Israel with the Palestinian people, to change Jerusalem from Jewish capital into capital of an Islamic world state, and to ensure that the temple of the Jews is not rebuilt so the entire Temple Mount may be occupied by high profile mosques. There are various radical groups in Israel that are fanning the flames of an Islamic revolution. The following is just one example of them. Scott Shiloh (Arutz Sheva, November 16, 2005) says:

“Islamic radicals have been using the Temple Mount as a focal point for planning and preaching the establishment of a world Islamic state with Jerusalem as its capital. One of the radical groups operating on the Temple Mount is Hizab Altahrir (The Islamic Liberation Party), which espouses an ideology similar to Al Qaeda. Hizab Altahrir’s network spans most Western European countries. The party puts Islamic revolution and an uncompromising form of jihad at the top of its political agenda. The group advocates subjecting the entire world to Islamic law (sharia), and destroying non-believing nations and religions. The party has targeted Europe for spreading its ideology...

“Sheikh Riyad Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, has also been actively teaching the tenets of Islamic revolution. ‘We are at the gates of the Islamic revolution,’ he proclaims in his sermons to Arab citizens of Israel. ‘The global forces of evil will be eliminated from the world and the Islamic nation will remain in place in order to bring about the world Islamic revolution, with its capital, Jerusalem’... Salah’s organization contributed to efforts to repair Arab mosques on the Temple Mount, and also attempts to erase the remains of Jewish antiquities on the Mount... Thousands of young Arabs living in the Palestinian territories have been participating in the party’s youth movement under the slogan, Campaigning to Preach Revolution. Altahrir’s youth recently put up a giant banner on the Temple Mount near the Dome of the Rock, declaring: Revolution is a Divine Command. The youth were greeted by party members who shouted, Next year in Jerusalem, under the rule of the Islamic revolution.”

Israel, Jerusalem, and more specifically the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives, are destined to play a major role in Jewish, Christian as well as Islamic eschatology. Jews expect the Messiah to set foot on the Mount of Olives during the time of a great war against Israel (Zech. 14:1-5). Christians know that this prophecy will be fulfilled at the second coming of Jesus, who is not only the Messiah of Israel but also the Saviour of the whole world. Muslims expect ‘another Jesus’ – the one who is not the Son of God but only the son of Mary – to make his appearance in Jerusalem, and who will follow in the footsteps of his ‘brother’, Mohammed, in Islamising the word. From a biblical point of view he will be the Antichrist.

Jack Kelley (www.gracethrufaith.com) says: “As details of Islamic eschatology become more widely known, prophecy students are discovering a striking similarity between descriptions of al Mahdi, the Moslem Messiah, and a figure Christians call the Antichrist. I’ve made mention of these in previous articles, how both come on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth, both come claiming a desire to restore peace, both have a seven year reign, both head a one world religion and one world government, both claim supernatural origins, and both reigns end in a battle between good and evil that brings Earth’s final judgment.”

Kelley further elaborates on the revelation of the Antichrist in terms of prophecies in Revelation 6: “‘Another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another, and he was given a great sword’ (Rev. 6:3-4). This is the point at which the Antichrist turns to war to establish his authority over human governments and turn the world toward his religion. The Moslem prophecies say this will be Islam, of course, and the Koran teaches conversion or death as the only alternatives available to non-believers. Current studies speculate that Europe, far into its post Christian era, may already be on the verge of yielding to the growing Moslem influence, but other parts of the world will resist, causing much bloodshed.”

In the light of these highly significant beliefs the Middle East conflict between Israel, the Palestinians and other Muslim nations is elevated to a level where it has the potential of radically changing the entire world as we know it. Two distinctly different, Jerusalem-based new world orders are coming – the one antichristian and the other Christian. The false messiah will rule over the first one for seven years, and he will deceive and abuse Israel, and eventually try to annihilate them when they abrogate their covenant with him. He will head the revived Roman Empire and vindicate the decision of his early predecessors in ancient times to change God’s land of Israel into Palestine, and to closely identify with Israel’s enemies. He will use all his powers of deception to draw Israel into his multireligious new world order, and when they eventually come to their senses and reject him, he will commit genocide against them.

The subsequent new world order will be Christian and it will be established shortly after the second coming of Christ (Isa. 2:2-4; Jer. 3:17; Zech. 8:22-23; Acts 15:16-17; Rev. 19:15-16). In this dispensation of the kingdom, the spiritually restored remnant of Israel will play a major role (Isa. 27:6; 28:5; 62:1-7). A remnant from Israel’s enemies will also be saved when the true Messiah comes, and serve Him together with Israel during the Millennium (Isa. 19:18-25).

Deceived Churches

According to Thomas Ice in his article, Christian Palestinianism, there is another big threat to Israel, known as Christian Palestinianism. That is a Christian movement which expresses itself against Israel and in favour of the Palestinians. This liberal theological dogma is in opposition to Christian Zionism, which is focussed on emphasising Israel’s biblical rights and also actively supports the full restoration of Israel in an undivided land. Christian Palestinianism propagates an amillennial and anti-Jewish theology in which the restored Israel plays no part, and in which the Palestinians are regarded as the legitimate owners of the entire Palestine without any state of Israel in the Middle East. It is, therefore, a kind of liberation theology for the Palestinians. Many of the Palestinian Christians have accepted this politically-motivated liberation theology and exercise it for the sake of their national survival. It is strongly anti-dispensational. Many of the Palestinian Christians do not even read the Old Testament because of the central role which Israel occupied during the dispensation of the law. Some of them do read it, but only selectively. They do not recognise any relationship between biblical Israel, the present Jews and the modern state of Israel at all.

Theological Palestinianism poses a very big danger. An Egyptian scholar, Bat Ye-or, has a chapter in her book Eurabia about the Islamisation of Christianity. According to her, Palestinianism paves the way for the Islamisation of the church. It is a kind of replacement theology in which Israel is replaced by the Palestinians. In the process the four Gospels are disengaged from their Jewish connection and attached to the Palestinians to make the New Testament more acceptable to Islam. In the process Jesus is rendered a Palestinian Saviour.

A British Jew, Melanie Phillips, has published a book entitled Londonistan in which she warns England that Islam is taking over their country and culture, mainly because the church has become pro-Islamic and against historic Christianity. She describes the rise of Christian Palestinianism as follows: “When Arab Christians reinterpreted Scripture in order to delegitimise the Jews’ claim to the land of Israel, this kick-started replacement theology, which roared back into the imaginations, sermons and thinking of the Anglican Church. This revisionism held that Palestinian Arabs were the original possessors of the land of Israel…. and that they are the true Israel.”

In this new form of replacement theology Israel is not only replaced with the church, but specifically also with the Palestinian Christians. In the process the Bible is robbed of many of its basic statements on Israel and gradually reinterpreted in terms of the Koran. Donald Wagner (Dying in the Land of Promise: Palestine and Palestinian Christianity from Pentecost to 2000; London, 2003) wrongly argues that about half of the population in Israel at the time of Christ was not Jewish, thereby justifying his claim that Arab Christians are racially descended from the original church in Acts 2 in Jerusalem. However, the church Father Eusebius confirms in his book on church history that the early church was virtually 100% Jewish.

Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute also rejected dispensationalism and the restoration of Israel, and now advances Palestinianism. He accuses Israel of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and describes supporters of Israel as racists. However, it is obvious that the Bible teaches the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel in their own land. People who object to this teaching are opening the door to replacement theology and the increased acceptance of Islamic points of view.

Christian churches have to decide whether they literally believe the Bible. If so, they are committed to accepting Israel as a people in their own right, to whom alone the promise was made that they would forever occupy the land of Israel. Their unbelief was indeed the cause of the Diaspora, but the Lord now brings them back to spiritually revive them and make them a blessing to the whole world (Rom. 11:1-32).

Israel’s future is not in the hands of orthodox Jews who are still rejecting the Messiah, but in the hands of Messianic Jews who have accepted Jesus as Messiah and are serving Him. Although they are a small minority group the Bible prophesies great and wonderful things for them. We should support them so that their testimony to unsaved Israeli’s would go out clearly and unambiguously. According to the Bible the whole remnant in Israel will eventually accept Jesus as Messiah. Do not associate with the enemies of Israel as, according to Genesis 12:3, the judgements of God rest upon such people.

Deceived leaders

Many Western leaders have fallen victim to Islam’s false propaganda by describing it as a peaceful religion. In his newsletter, Berean Call of November 2006 (p. 3-4), Dave Hunt says the following:

“The pope’s inexcusable apology for ‘offending’ Muslims with the truth is a further example of how the West continues to be intimidated by Muslim threats and encourages their hypocritical denial to themselves and to the world of the horrible truth about Islam. Muslims ought to be ashamed that their ‘god’ promises rewards in Paradise for murdering innocent women and children. One would be hard pressed to find terrorism anywhere in the world for which Islam and Muslims are not responsible. Yet they persist with their incredible lie equating Islam with peace and threaten anyone who tells the truth: ‘If you dare criticize Islam as a religion of violence, we will kill you to prove that it is a religion of peace!’

“The shameful fact that Western leaders from Bush to Blair to Chirac to Billy Graham to the pope keep on praising Islam as a religion of peace because of such threats is a betrayal of their responsibility. This surrender to Islam’s blackmail will inevitably result in the complete Islamization of the Western world with the loss of the freedoms we hold dear. In fact, Islamization has already reached the point of no return in Europe and especially in Britain – and the US is not far behind...

“We are engaged in a war to the death – not against terrorists and extremists who, as President Bush insists, have ‘hijacked a peaceful religion,’ but with Islam itself – a fact that the West refuses to acknowledge. The ‘politically correct’ lies, so popular in the West, must be abandoned. We are losing this war and will continue to do so until the West faces the truth that our enemy is not terrorism perpetrated by Muslim ‘extremists’ but the violent religion if Islam itself...

“The Qur’an, which Muhammad claimed he received by revelation from Allah through the angel Gabriel, has more than 100 verses commanding the use of violence and slaughter to take over the world, such as: ‘Slay the idolaters [i.e., all who reject Allah as the only god and Muhammad as his prophet] wherever ye find them... besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush’ (Surah 9:5).” (End of quote).

Turmoil in the Arab world

Not only the Palestinians themselves, but many Arab countries are inflicted by serious internal turmoil because of political tension and power struggles, election fraud, religious differences (particularly between Sunni and Shiite factions of Islam), corruption in governments, economic problems such as poverty and unemployment, etc. Countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Iraq are in serious disarray which borders on anarchy. One of Israel’s ruthless enemies, Hezbollah, are strengthening their political position by gaining control over Lebanon. This is an ominous development as they are acting as a front organization to Syria and Iran in their continuous struggle against Israel.

The Palestinian Authority has of late lost much of the little credibility that they enjoyed among their own people because of the leaking of the Palestine documents to Al-Jazeera. From these documents it is evident that the plight of the four to five million Palestinian refugees is not seriously considered by the PA. Other compromises which they make with Israel are also unacceptable to their own people. The rift between the Hamas and Fatah factions of the Palestinian Authority has widened because of the seeming inability of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to make real headway towards Palestinian statehood. How are the Palestinians going to solve this political impasse? Outside intervention appears to be inevitable.

The Palestine documents reveal beyond any doubt that the US has been a poor negotiator in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The Obama administration is now regarded to be more incompetent than the previous Bush administration. Obama does not do anything to resist the Palestinian demands, but neither does he do much to actively promote them. It may just be that the role of the US will be minimised and that the Arabs will turn to Russia for assistance too achieve this goal.

One very certain result of the recent events is that the Palestinian conflict has obtained new prominence in the eyes of the world, and preparations for Palestinian independence are likely to be more vigorously pursued in the near future. The role-players may change, and most probably they will change, but the Palestinian dream remains very much alive. There are even signs that the process is gaining more impetus, even to the extent that some of the more radical leaders are rejecting the two-state solution in favour of a one-state solution. Voices are going up for an undivided Palestine in which there is no state of Israel, but where Jews will be welcome to stay on. The borders of the new state will, however, be opened to the five million Palestinian refugees, and it is not hard to guess what the economic and political consequences of that development will be. Keep in mind that there are still seven to eight million Jews dispersed throughout the world, who certainly have the right to return to their ancient homeland.

Conclusion

For very good reasons the Israeli/Palestinian conflict occupies a prominent place on the world stage. The unfolding events of the emerging new world order are focussed on Palestine, Israel and, specifically, the city of Jerusalem. Despite the fact that the Palestinians are not historically significant or ethnically a distinct and cohesive people, they happen to be in the location where the future of the world will be decided. Their demands for nationhood are used by the powers of darkness to gain a foothold in the midst of the land and city destined by God to be the centre of the Messiah’s world government.

It is a staggering fact that the powers of darkness have so permeated the modern world that not only Islam, but also Roman Catholicism, decadent Protestantism, as well as the UN, the EU and virtually all political leaders, are supporting the cause of the Palestinians which demands the partition of the land of Israel, the gradual weakening of Israel’s position, and their ultimate demise from the world stage. No wonder that the God of Israel will soon intervene in this serious conflict and enter into judgement with the nations who rejected and persecuted Israel, thereby also despising the God and the Messiah of Israel, as well as His Word.

The incompetence of the present PA leadership increases the possibility of outside intervention in the final advancing of their cause, which is regarded to be of vital importance for the interests of Islam as a world religion and a future world power which will be controlled from the Middle East – and more specifically from Jerusalem.