The current unrest in the Middle-East focuses on the civil struggle between the government of Israel and its Palestinian people who want to establish a separate Palestinian state. Most of the Arab and/or Islamic nations in the area are also involved. The United States, the U.N., the European Union, and even Russia are all trying to broker peace in the region.
The current wave of violence could die out and become one of many such cycles in the area, or it could lead to more serious war. The outcome of this war could be a most welcome peace agreement.
Such a peace agreement might be just another phase in the age-old struggle between these nations, or it could be the false peace mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (NIV)
When Israel finally is at peace, it will be the first time since they became a nation in 1948 that they have enjoyed such security. This could cause them to lower their guard, which would set the scene for yet another war, such as the one predicted in Ezekiel 38 and 39. (Many good Bible teachers think that war is more likely at the end of the Tribulation, but it does not correspond exactly to the Battle of Armageddon.) If it does come before the Tribulation, it will most likely correspond to the 2nd Seal of Revelation 6.
The dramatic end of this great war of the 2nd Seal could produce the treaty predicted in Daniel 9:27, which many prophecy scholars identify as the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period.
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Dec. 20, 2004 - President Bush told reporters for an Israeli newspaper that he would make peace between Israel and the Palestinians a top priority of his second term.He said, "I am convinced that, during this term, I will manage to bring peace."
Washington regards the Palestinian elections on Jan 9 as a crucial first step to consolidate the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate with whom Washington believes it can work, following the death last month of Yasser Arafat.
Dec. 18, 2004 - An agreement is scheduled to be signed on Sunday forming a coalition between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party and Shimon Perez's Labor party. Perez will become Deputy Prime Minister if the deal is concluded. Such a coalition will presumably strengthen the peace process.
Dec. 17, 2004 - Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, speaking at an academic conference Thursday evening, said that Yasser Arafat had been the main obstacle to peace and his death in November turned 2005 into a "year of great opportunity." He said he would continue the pull-out from Gaza, and that this action could lead to future peace talks and a separate Palestinian state.
Dec. 15, 2004 - Hezbollah was identified by President Bush as a terrorist group of global reach, and, an such, an enemy of the United States. The group has become so strong that Israel is unwilling to attack them. The group is entrenched along the northern border of Israel.
Israeli senior commanders estimate that Hezbollah has as many as 15,000 rockets and missiles of varying ranges that could blanket most of the Jewish State.
A full-out attack by Hezbollah could destroy northern Israel and possibly force Israel to use non-conventional weapons to survive. This gives Hezbollah and their sponsoring country, Iran, great influence in the area, and makes it very difficult for the U.S. to broker a peace agreement there. That is why the U.S. welcomes European influence in the peace process.
The Bible tells us that any eventual peace agreement will only be temporary, and that the the war that began with Israel's declaration of statehood in 1948 will not be settled at the negotiating table but by the Battle of Armageddon.
Dec. 4, 2004 - Hamas may have softened its hard-line insistence that Israel be replaced by a Palestinian state. Speaking to Associated Press reporters, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, the top Hamas leader in the West Bank said,
"Hamas has announced that it accepts a Palestinian independent state within the 1967 borders with a long-term truce."
Dec. 3, 2004 - During a Nov. 29th interview on Iranian television, Fatah co-founder Farouk Kadumi said that the struggle for a two-state solution is just a “stage” on the road to only one state. His statement was a virtual re-affirmation of the PLO's 1974 "destroy Israel" program. He said that the Arabs would ultimately succeed because there are "300 million Arabs, while Israel has only the sea behind it.”
Dec. 2, 2004 - Marwan Barghouti, the convicted terrorist henchman for Yasser Arafat, had originally said he would back the candidacy of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) for the presidency of the PLO. His wife convinced him to run for the office because it would be his only chance to get out of prison.
Barghouti was found guilty by the Tel Aviv District Court this past May of organizing three terrorist attacks in which five Israelis were murdered... The court sentenced him to five life sentences plus 40 years.
Nov. 23, 2004 - Although many expected Secretary of State Colin Powell to resign after the elections, he evidently wanted to stay on for at least one more year. The President asked him to step down because Powell wanted more power to confront Israel over the peace process.
The Sunday Times reported that Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice is convinced Yasser Arafat's death has created a unique opportunity and she believes the revival of the peace process leading to a Palestinian state will be her top priority.
Nov. 13, 2004 - President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to work toward a separate state for Palestinians, only if they persue democratic government.
"Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security" is the goal, Bush said in a White House press conference with Blair.
World Reaction to Arafat's Death
Nov. 12, 2004 - Arafat's body has already travelled to Cairo, Egypt for funeral services, and then back to the West Bank, where it was buried in Ramallah. Reaction from world leaders is predictable. Israeli leaders say his death will provide a new opportunity for peace, U.S. and British leaders extend condolences to the family and hopes that a Palestinian state may now become a reality. Most other dignitaries are full of praise for the controversial life of the man.
Nov. 11, 2004 - PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat died early this morning in a Paris hospital. His body will be taken to Egypt for funeral ceremonies, and it will then be taken to Ramallah for burial near his West Bank compound. He had wanted to be buried near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but Israeli officials denied that request.
Oct. 29, 2004 - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been ill for weeks, and is now in serious condition. The nature of his affliction has not been disclosed. Blood tests revealed he has a low platelet count. Israel has allowed him to be transported to Paris for treatment, and has said they will allow him to return if he recovers.
Oct. 27, 2004 - By a 67 to 45 vote, Israel's congress, the Knesset, approved Prime Minister Sharon's plan for withdrawal of Israelis from the Gaza strip by the end of 2005. Labor's Dalia Itzik called the vote "a historic day for the State of Israel." There is still strong opposition to the plan because Jewish settlements in the area will be abandoned. The action could be overturned by a public referendum. Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is currently Finance Minister, has threatened to quit if Sharon does not agree to hold a national referendum.
Oct. 14, 2004 - Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher warns that the hope of a two-state solution is fading as Israel persues its unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass said last week that by freezing the peace process, "this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda."
Sept. 24, 2004 - The "Quartet" (U.S., Russia, E.U., U.N.) that devised the "Road Map" peace plan, has expressed concern that the process has stalled. Then President Bush, speaking at the United Nations, signalled concern about the attitudes of both sides in the conflict.
"Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption, and maintain ties to terrorist groups," he said. "The long-suffering Palestinian people deserve better."
To Israel, Bush advised that they should put a freeze on settlements and dismantle those that are unauthorized, and should "end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and avoid any actions that prejudice final negotiations."
Sept. 16, 2004 - In two recent Palestinian television appearances, Islamic leaders have called for the mass killing of Jews. They both quoted the same Hadith ( Islamic tradition attributed to Muhammad):
The Hour [Resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. And the Jews will hide behind the rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!
According to their teachings, killing Jews is a necessary stage in history that must be carried out quickly.
Aug. 31, 2004 - Two busses have been destroyed by Palestinian suicide bombers in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. At least 12 people were killed and injuring dozens of others. This is the first suicide bombing in Israel since an attack in Tel Avive on July 11th.
Ambulance worker Avi Zohar said the buses were full of parents and children shopping for educational items on the final day of the school holidays.
July 23, 2004 - It has not yet been decided whether the summit will be a meeting of Foreign Ministers or of presidents, but plans are underway for a summit between Israel, Egypt and the United States in preparation for Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
July 21, 2004 - Israel can not honor the United Nations General Assembly resolution that calls for Israel to dismantle their security wall.
"After a thousand Israeli fatalities in the last four years, and 150 suicide bombing attacks, Israel has every moral right to complete the fence as planned," said former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold.
Gold also said that the UN resolution was unbalanced since it does nothing to stop the terrorist threat that makes the wall necessary. The resolution actually encourages Palestinian terrorism.
July 19, 2004 - Following widespread protests and near-anarchy in the Gaza Strip, Yasser Arafat has decided to annul his appointment of his nephew Moussa Arafat as head of security there. The unrest also came after prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, submitted his resignation in frustration over his inability to effect change.
"I totally reject your resignation and consider it nonexistent," Arafat told Qureia on Sunday, according to Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat, who attended the meeting. Qureia told his Cabinet earlier he was firm in his decision to quit.
June 29, 2004 - Yesterday, Palestinian rockets killed two people in a town in southern Israel. This was the first time Israelis were killed by missiles. However, analysists are saying that the Intfada, or uprising of the Palestinians that began in 2000 is almost over. Many of their top leaders have been eliminated, there is not sufficient financing to continue their efforts, and Israel has created a "new reality" by building a separation wall between Israeli populations and Palestinian cities. At this time last year, Palestinians had committed 20 suicide bombings killing 141, but thus far this year, there have been only two bombings in Israel proper, killing 19.
"In the West Bank city of Tul Karm," writes Isabel Kershner in the Jerusalem Report, "everyone from Yasser Arafat's governor to the remnants of the Al-Aqsa Brigades says the Palestinian uprising is as good as over."
June 24, 2004 - By an astonishing vote of 407 to 9, during the height of a presidential election, The House of Representatives endorsed President George W. Bush's April 14 declaration, which effectively rejected key Palestinian demands for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 war borders and a right of return for Palestinian refugees. The President's declaration stated that it was "unrealistic" to expect Israel to pull back to borders that existed before the 1967 Mideast war because of the large Jewish populations that have settled in contested areas.
The Senate is expected to ratify the measure by a wide margin later on Thursday.
June 23, 2004 - Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman will visit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ramallah today in preparation for a special meeting later this week in Egypt with the "Quartet" that has been working on a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. The Quartet includes U.S., Russia, the European Union, and the U.N.
New features of the plan have been proposed by Egypt. Under that plan Egypt would retrain and oversee the Palestinian Authority's security forces. Power would be transferred from PA president Yasser Arafat, to Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.
June 7, 2004 - The cabinet of Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, voted 14 to 7 to endorse his plan to pull Israeli forces and residents out of the Gaza strip area. Another vote will be needed before Jewish settlements there can be dismantled, but Mr Sharon said that the process of disengagement has already begun, and would be completed by the end of 2005.
In Washington, the Bush administration welcomed the move, describing it as "a courageous and historic step".
May 26, 2004 - According to OneVoice, an organization aimed at promoting Mideast peace, 75.6% of Israelis and 75.8% of Palestinians approved the existence of two states, "each recognizing the other as such, both democratic and respecting human rights, including minority rights."
May 16, 2004 - "Israel's Strategic Future," A report delivered to Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, calls for a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities before they become operational. Iran claims to be interested only in nuclear power, but skeptics ask why they need it since they are oil-rich. If Iran does uses the plant to develop nuclear weapons, Israel would need a deterrent second-strike capability that would destroy the viability of 15 enemy cities.
May 16, 2004 - On Israel's 56th anniversary, PLO chief Yasser Arafat said that the international community had no right to allow the establishment of a Jewish state, and that Palestinians must continue their struggle for an independent state. He called for a continuation of the four-year long terrorism campaign. He said Palestinians need to "terrorize your enemy."
May 7, 2004 - The UN General Assembly has adopted a non-binding resolution granting the Palestinians self-determination and sovereignty over the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and eastern Jerusalem. The resolution was cosponsored by 27 Arab, Muslim, and non-aligned nations. It states that Palestinians
"have the right to self-determination and to sovereignty over their territory, and that Israel, the occupying power, has only the duties and obligations of an occupying power" under the Geneva and Hague conventions.
May 3, 2004 - Approximately 60% of Israel's Likud party voters rejected Ariel Sharon's current plans for "unilateral disengagement," meaning withdrawal of Jewish settlers from Gaza and four other West Bank settlements by the end of 2005. A defiant Sharon may still have the ability to get around his party's action by calling for early elections or a national referendum. In any case, it puts his plans on hold for now and is an embarrasment to him as well as to President Bush, who backed his plan openly.
April 23, 2004 - The "quartet" of world powers (the EU, the United States, the United Nations and Russia) that drafted the "Road Map" peace initiative will meet in New York on May 4 to try to revive the plan.
[The plan] has been sidelined by Israel's unilateral decision to withdraw from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, which the Palestinians claim is a move to redraw borders.
April 19, 2004 - Jordan's King Abdullah II postponed a White House meeting with President Bush this week, apparently upset over the President's endorsement of Israel's plan for unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. Jordan also objects to plans for keeping some Jewish settlements in West Bank areas.
April 19, 2004 - Bill Koenig, White House Correspondent, reports that many significant events have occured this week that affect Israel and the Middle East. President Bush met with Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarek, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He held a prime-time news conference to explain actions in Iraq and Israel to the nation. On Saturday evening Israeli forces assassinated the brand new head of Hamas Abdel Aziz Rantisi. And, there is more...
Apr. 15, 2004 - Following a meeting in Washington between President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the President endorsed Sharon's plan to pull Israeli forces out of the occupied territories and dismantle settlements. The announcement startled many world leaders because it means a change to the current peace plan, and virtually ignores the input and the claims of Palestinians. It may also be a hard sell to Israelis because it abandons most Jewish settlements in West Bank areas.
April 11, 2004 - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon leaves Monday to meet with President Bush to discuss Sharon's disengagement plan. The President plans to present him with a letter stating that Israel will not be asked in the future to withdraw to the 1949 cease-fire lines (the Green Line) on the West Bank.
Mar. 24, 2004 - The U.S. did not draw a "red line" for Israel concerning Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin. Therefore, his assasination may cause further alienation between the Arab world and the U.S. At the same time, we are trying to promote a "Greater Middle East Initiative," and trying to enlist European support for a program to promote reform and democracy in the Arab world.
Mar 23, 2004 - Following yesterday's assasination of Ahmed Yassin, protesters in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Sudan and Yemen, have all demanded that the Arab leaders act against Israel's bold action.
Regional leaders including President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and President Bashar Assad of Syria weighed in, criticizing Israel for ratcheting up the violence at a time when the first tentative steps toward peace were being taken in almost four years.
Many Islamic leaders are calling for acts of revenge against Israel.
Mar. 23, 2004 - Since The European Union and the United States do not have complete agreement on future policies for dealing with the Middle East, the EU will consider a proposal by the Irish Presidency, which currently heads the EU, containing 11 policy goals for greater engagement with the Middle East. They are especially interested in the creation of a "common zone of peace, prosperity and progress". US policy is more heavily focused on democratic reforms.
Mar. 22, 2004 - An Israeli missile strike killed Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas outside a Gaza mosque today.
The Yassin assassination was seen as an enormous gamble by Sharon, who is trying to score a decisive victory against Hamas ahead of a possible Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, but risks triggering a dramatic escalation in bloodshed ...
Mar. 17, 2004 - In response to the double suicide bombing at Ashdod Port on Sunday, Israel's security cabinet gave the military the go-ahead to commence operations against terrorist leaders in the Gaza Strip.
IAF helicopters fired three missiles at a home in Gaza City where a number of Islamic Jihad leaders were believed to be hiding.
Senior Islamic Jihad leader Mahmoud al-Haroubi escaped but two other Islamic Jihad members were killed and 14 others wounded.
Other strikes are expected in a series of planned military actions to target leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Mar. 9, 2004 - Israel's plan is to accomplish a unilateral pull-out from the Gaza area in the near future. Now there is news that Hamas is trying to raise a "popular army" to take control from the Palestinian Authority when that withdrawal takes place. They would then establish an Islamic terrorist mini-state.
IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon cautioned Sunday that Israel must not pull out of Gaza under fire, "considering the air of support such an action" would give to groups like Hamas, greatly increasing their ability to recruit new members.
Feb. 19, 2004 - The Palestinian Authority is running out of money because the U.S. has cut off all funds until they turn over the killers of 3 CIA security men murdered in a roadside explosion in the Gaza Strip on October 15. Now the EU, which pays the salaries of about 100,000 Palestinian Authority officials and security officers, may stop handing over cash to the corrupt Palestinian government. In that case they would transfer funds into the individual payees’ banks accounts. This would require wanted criminals to identify themselves.
...They can no longer be forced by their commanders and Arafat to engage in terrorists activities in order to feed their families. As PA officers, they will receive their paychecks directly from the EU.
Yasser Arafat responded that if this plan succeeds, "They’ll finish me off along with the entire Palestinian resistance movement!"
Feb. 19, 2004 - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is still committed to the "Road Map" peace initiative that would result in two states for the Israelis and Palestinians, but he says he has no partner with whom he can work on the Palestinian side of the process.
Jan. 30, 2004 - In a limited response to yesterday's bus bombing in Jerusalem, Israeli troops entered the Aida camp near Bethlehem, arrested several suspected militants, and dynamited the home of the bomber. Hamas has taken credit for the suicide bombing. Israel's response is considered light in comparison with its normal reaction to such terrorist attacks.
Jan. 16, 2004 - Following the Hamas-approved suicide bombing by a Palestinian mother, Israel says it will resume targeted killings of Hamas leaders.
Israel will hunt and kill the founder of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, in retaliation for a deadly attack on Israeli border guards, Israel's deputy defense minister said in the bluntest warning yet against leaders of the Islamic militant group.
Jan. 15, 2004 - Reem al-Reyashi, 22, a married mother of two, killed four Israelis and herself at a checkpoint for Palestinian workers. She was sent by the militant Islam group Hamas. In a recent video she said,
"It was always my wish to turn my body into deadly shrapnel against the Zionists and to knock on the doors of heaven with the skulls of Zionists."
Jan. 8, 2004 - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a commitment to President Bush in late 2003 to implement the so-called roadmap peace plan, including the establishment of a Palestinian state, even if the Palestinian Authority does not cooperate by eliminating insurgency groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Fatah-sponsored Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
Under the Sharon commitment, officials said, Israel would dismantle outposts established by Jewish settlers in the West Bank over nearly the last three years. This would be followed by an Israeli military withdrawal from much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...
Jan. 5, 2004 - A team of respected legal authorities will prepare a statemtnt to be given to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, stating that Israel rejects its authority to debate or rule on the building of the separation fence between Israeli and Palestinian areas.
Nevertheless, the sources said, Israel's statement to the ICJ will also present substantial arguments to justify the security need for the fence. These will also help Israel in a future campaign against any negative ruling made by the court.