For decades the U.S. has been the main power broker in the so-called “Middle East Peace Process,” which really refers mostly to efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But that process has been dead for years. President Donald Trump has been the main cause of it by being anti-Palestinian. He has done multiple things that have not only been contrary to the peace process but clearly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian. One was moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv, where just about all nation’s embassies still are. That decision should have been reserved for an overall peace settlement. Another was Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which Israel annexed after it took this land from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967. The U.S. position on that had always been the same as the embassy issue at Tel Aviv, which was that that issue should have been reserved for an overall peace settlement that would have included Syria’s previous possession and ownership of that land.
Another issue has been Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which the UN has always declared as “occupied territory” in accordance with UN regulations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses that designation and calls it “disputed” territory. Since Israel is a member of the UN, it is supposed to abide by the UN regulation that if a nation occupies the territory of another nation or peoples after a war, that nation must enter into a peace process resulting in its return of that territory. I have always believed since then that it is not right for the UN to have continued to allow Israel to remain a UN member while it has defied this regulation all those decades.
Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Jewish settlements in the West Bank are “not per se inconsistent with international law.” Well, the U.S. does not decide what international law is. The best that can be said of this Pompeo statement is that he, or the U.S. administration he represents, differs in its interpretation of international as it relates to this issue.
This is departure from the longstanding position of the U.S., which has the same as that of the international community, that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal according to international law and that the status of the West Bank should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians in a final peace agreement. Generally, the U.S. has regarded either all or a majority of the West Bank as Palestinian land that should be returned to them to become a Palestinian state in conjunction with the Gaza Strip.
In my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia, published almost thirty years ago, the book begins, “Every nation is entitled to a land of its own. The Jews regained theirs in 1948. The Palestinians are still waiting. Their land was seized by the Jews.” That the Palestinians have developed a national entity is now an indisputable fact. Like the Jews, they also deserve their own independent state. But the big question is, ‘Where should it be?'”
I propose in the book that this conflict should be settled according to historical precedent. In fact, that was the Jews’ argument in their three-page Proclamation of Independence which they issued on May 15, 1948, which started the war that ended with them having a state. That document repeatedly declares that Jews have a just right to Eretz Yisrael (Heb. meaning “Land of Israel”), which is defined therein as the Jews’ “ancestral land.” That means the land in the Levant that Jews of antiquity possessed.
Well, I think it should be the same for the Palestinians. For, I believe Palestinians have a stronger genetic link to the ancient Philistines than to any other people group. Accordingly, like Jews, they are entitled to their ancestral land, which is the coastal plain as shown in the map on the front cover of my book.
I believe this conflict will be settled someday, with Israel annexing the West Bank and Palestinians getting the coastal plain in which to establish their own independent state. Why do I believe this? It’s in the Bible.