Should Egypt Give the Restive North Sinai to Palestinians?

Should Egypt Give the Restive North Sinai to Palestinians? September 17, 2014

Ever since the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Islamic terrorists have infiltrated the far North Sinai Peninsula, just south of the Gaza Strip stretching southward to the city of El-Arish, and caused much turmoil there. Plus, the bedouin living there have been dissatisfied with Egypt’s poor governance of their territory. Several gun battles recently have occurred in this region between terrorists and Egyptian police. In one such battle, nineteen Egyptian military personnel were killed. This volatile situation is becoming reminiscent of Israel’s difficulty in controlling the Gaza Strip for decades and their eventual relinquishing of it to the Palestinians, in 2005. It now appears that Egypt has been thinking the same about its North Sinai.

Last week on Monday, Israel’s Army Radio reported that Egyptian officials recently had conversations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about Egypt giving the Palestinians this restive portion of the North Sinai Peninsula which is adjacent to the southern end of the Gaza Strip. They said the Palestinians could then declare a Palestinian state in this combined territory of the Gaza Strip and North Sinai.These officials said Egypt would only agree to allow the Palestinian Authority, thus not Hamas, to govern the new state. They suggested that this arrangement could solve the Palestinian refugee problem by allowing the refugees to move into this North Sinai area.

The next day, it was reported that PA President Abbas had rejected this Egyptian offer on the grounds that it would jeopardize the Palestinians’ demand of Israel that a Palestinian state be located mostly in the West Bank.

Immediately, some Israeli officials publicly expressed  both their enthusiasm for such an idea and their surprise that Egypt would be willing to relinquish this territory without anything in return. That’s all the more reason why the offer is reminiscent of 2005, when Israel got nothing in return for giving up the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. These Israeli officials said that Egypt’s forfeiture of this portion of the North Sinai has never been mentioned in peace discussions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that they now wanted it to be so considered. One would think that in such negotiations Israel might be willing to do something beneficial for Egypt in order to make this transfer of property a reality.

But the next day, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi dismissed this idea by explaining that neither would Egypt want to jeopardize the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to acquire most of the West Bank wherein to locate a Palestinian state.

If this development has any future legs, it will become another piece of the puzzle that I claim in my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia (1990). It is still the only book ever written on this subject. Therein, I interpret ten Old Testament prophecies to show that the Bible predicts a yet future Palestinian state that will exist prior to the end of the age and that it will be located in the approximate territory of the ancient Philistines, from whom present-day Palestinians derive their name. Isaiah 11.13-14 makes it quite clear that this Palestinian state will not be located in the West Bank.

Philistia, the chief adversary of ancient Israel, was located in the Mediterranean coastal plain. For most of its centuries of existence, its norther border was the Nahal Sorek, about ten miles south of the center of present Tel Aviv, and its southern border was the Wadi el Arish. (This basin is called “the river of Egypt in the Bible because it was the northeastern border of ancient Egypt.) Philistia’s western border, of course, was the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s eastern border usually was the Shephelah and the western environs of the towns of Beersheba and Kadesh Barnea. Thus, Philistia was shaped sort of rectangularly, with its southern portion extending farther inland. Philistia was known mostly for its five city-states which were Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. These last four locations have always been a part of modern Israel.

Obviously,my interpretation of a Palestinian state in the Bible also becomes a proposal for solving the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, I maintain that it will happen because it will be the best possible solution to this difficulty. Thus, I propose in my book the following: (1) Israel relinquish all of its territory to the Palestinians which was “the land of Philistines” as defined above, (2) Israel keeps, and therefore annexes, the entire West Bank to Israel, and (3) Egypt relinquishes to the Palestinians that portion of the North Sinai between the Gaza Strip and the Wadi el Arish and which stretches inland to Kadesh Barnea. This resulting Palestinian state will be a very expanded Gaza Strip.

What are the advantages of this solution for Israel and the Palestinians? Israel gets the heart of its ancestral land–the West Bank, which amazingly comprises ancient Samaria and Judea–and this will greatly satisfy religious Israeli Jews. Moreover, it will fulfill the demand of Israel’s Proclamation of Independence that Jews are entitled to their “ancestral land,” which should not be confused with the larger, so-called “promised land” in the Bible. And Palestinians will greatly benefit from this arrangement by having a land that is more conducive to economic development, especially if Palestinians also can get some Nile water from the El-Salaam Canal and realize a financial bonanza from offshore oil and gas deposits. Finally, this geographical arrangement will result in what will truly be two states lying side-by-side.

(For more information, see other posts on this blog about this subject as well as several article updates on Palestine Is Coming at kermitzarley.com.)

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