As well as loss of land and denial of rights to aquifers, Israel has imposed severe restriction on Palestinian movement.
Israeli soldiers halt a photojournalist
Fortified checkpoint in the wall
Image courtesy PENGON/Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. See Stopthewall
Most sectors of the economy are in decline, unemployment is over 50%, 2/3 of Palestinians live below the poverty line and 85% of factories are shut.
Youth inspects a radio at a Palestinian trash site
Around 300 Palestinian structures (including wells) have been destroyed in the Jordan Valley since 2005. Some families have had their homes built, destroyed and rebuilt several times, see Resist Demolition
Another Palestinian home is crushed
Image courtesy PENGON/Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. See Stopthewall
Why this suffering?
The discussion on this page looks first at the recent history of the region, although this does not really answer the question. Then we look at the current political impasse, and finally at what the Bible says!
End Times - Summary
End Time Signs
The True End Time Church
Electronic ID - Human Implants
Middle East War
Israel - its Purpose
Equality Law & End Times
Roman Catholicism - Babylon?
Climate Change - IPCC
Climate Change - Hoax
Prophecy Coming True
God Judging Nations
Second Coming of Christ
End Times - Indepth Study
End Times - The Millennium
Apologetics - Summary
Abortion: Facts & Ethics
Truth - What is it?
Truth - The Source
Laws of Life
Paths of Life
Pluralism - Ways to God
Entry to Heaven
After Death - What?
Israel's Legal Borders
Israel Goods Boycott
The Palestinian Problem
Reality - Verify the Bible
Morality & Ethics
Age of the Earth
Biblical Dating of Earth
Young Earth Creationism
God's Amazing Design
Dawkins God Delusion
Atheism is Illogical
Evolution - the Truth
It's God's Weather
A Hurting World - Suffering
Religion Is Bad News
Steps You Should Take
Gifts For You
Promises For You
Adam: real or symbolic?
The Persecuted Church
Authority in Christ
Browse the Bible
During the seventh century Arab armies conquered most of the Middle East, including the land now variously called Israel, Palestine and the Holy Land (some 10,000 square miles). This area, including Jerusalem, became part of the Ottoman Empire and was largely under Muslim control until the early 1900’s. Significantly, Jerusalem became holy to Muslims as the site where tradition says Mohammed ascended to heaven (although some claim he never set foot in Jerusalem). Over this period most of the population gradually accepted Islam and so by the mid 19th century the area was occupied by some 400,000 Muslims, 75,000 Christians and 25,000 Jews [World Vision].
Despite the strong Muslim presence, by the early 20th century the land was a mix of many peoples representing some 50 languages [1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica]. According to historian Richard Hartmann, prior to the creation of Israel in 1948 these communities were ‘ethnologically a chaos of all the possible human combinations’, and so did not share a common Arab identity. They included Balkans, Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Persians, Kurds, Germans, Afghans, Bosnians, Sudanese, Algerians and others. The land was not a ‘country’ and had no frontiers, only administrative boundaries [Prof. Bernard Lewis].
This strong ethnic mix meant there was no distinctive Palestinian people at the start of the 20th century, although there were stirrings for nationalism in response to Zionism. The term ‘Palestine’ seems to have come to prominence after the Balfour Declaration in 1917, when shortly after this the British were given a ‘Palestine Mandate’. Is was only really after WWI that we find an emergence of Palestinian nationalism and an identifiable 'Palestinian People' [James Gelvin][Rashid Khalidi]. Some see this as a response to the threat posed by Zionism, when waves of Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine between 1919 and 1939.
The Arab countries refused to sign a permanent peace treaty with Israel and so the UN Commission proposals never received legal international recognition. Instead, Israel’s borders were re-established along the ‘Green Line’ of the 1949 UN armistice agreements. This is a line excluding Israel from the West Bank and Gaza (see map).
The fact that these borders were not recognised by Arab states (since they refused to recognise Israel) underscores Israel’s legal case for the West Bank.
Jordan occupied both Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1948-49 war and only gained these areas via war and the ‘Green Line’ of the UN armistice. These areas had never formally been allocated to Jordan and so were strictly unallocated Palestine Mandate territory. So since there is no legal ownership of Judea and Samaria, these areas cannot be regarded as ‘occupied’ lands. Between 1949 and 1967 Jordan simply attempted illegal annexation of this newly gained territory.
Eminent legal scholars, such as Eugene Rostow (Undersecretary of State to Lyndon Johnson and Professor Emeritus at Yale Law School) therefore maintain that Israeli settlers have as much right to live in the West Bank as non-Jews. The Israeli Government follows this argument and denies that the occupation of the West Bank is illegal on the grounds that the land was not previously occupied lawfully by any other state.
For more detail see Israel's Legal Rights.
Political map of Israel
As stated above, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem was proposed in 1938 and 1947, and each time it was rejected by the Arab leadership. Today it is still under discussion, but again it is unlikely to succeed given the Arab position. To date, the Palestinian Authority maintains the following position:
All four of these positions are currently totally unacceptable to the Israeli leadership. For example:
"The Jewish people have been in existence for 4,000 years. Why do we not deserve recognition?" [Binyamin Netanyahu, 2013]
"Jerusalem is the indivisible capital of Israel" [Binyamin Netanyahu, 2013]
"I will enter into judgment with them ... (because) they have divided up My land" (Joel 3.2)
We have tried to ascertain how the Palestinian problem arose. Our brief analysis suggests it has been fuelled partly by a combination of so-called Zionism (returning Jews with a vision for Zion or Jerusalem), and repeated Arab refusal to recognise Israel and to accept both an Arab state and an Israeli state. But deeper analysis suggests that the root cause of the conflict with Israel is less of an Arab-Israeli conflict, and more of a conflict with the ideology of political Islam. It can be argued that, in general, the Bible does not support the idea of long-term Arab aggression against Israel - in fact God blesses the emergence of the Arab nations (Gen 17.19-21). But, as Islam took over these nations from the 7th century, a spiritual battle between truth and error has emerged, with the Arab nations being used as a vehicle for practical expression of this battle.
We have also seen that what the media describes as 'occupied land', cannot be described as occupied from a legal point of view.
Now let's summarise the big picture as described in the Bible (see Israel for a fuller explanation):
Observation of the world scene confirms the biblical picture. Israel is indeed returning, the land is indeed being blessed, and the nations are surely raging against her (see also Reality).
The Bible instructs the people of Israel how they should treat foreigners (non-Jews). Old Testament Israel was commanded to love foreigners and to let them live normal lives amongst them (Deut 10.19):
"When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong … (he) … shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself …" (Lev 19.33,34)
This instruction is timeless and applies to future Israel. Once Israel has returned to her land, the land is divided up amongst the tribes of Israel and the stranger amongst them is also ‘allotted an inheritance’:
"And they (strangers) shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel." (Ezek 47.22)
And of course God's timeless instruction applies now. It applies to Palestinians today. During an interview in 1989, Arial Sharon was asked: “Do you think of Arabs as your friends, neighbours, your enemies?” He replied:
"From my childhood, I have believed Jews and Arabs can live together, and I believe now they should live together. All the rights to this country, to the land of Israel – especially Judea and Samaria – are Jewish … but everyone who lives in the country should have all the rights of the country". [Ariel Sharon, TIME, April 1989]
Unfortunately, as long as Arab countries refuse to recognise Israel and continue to attack her, such cohabitation would seem to be impossible.
Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible