Challenge Netanyahu to Define Eretz Yisrael

Challenge Netanyahu to Define Eretz Yisrael January 9, 2023

Benjamin Netanyahu has served as the prime minister of the State of Israel, longer than anyone, for a total of fifteen years. About ten days ago, he was sworn in as Israel’s prime minister for an unprecedented sixth term. But to do so, he had to form a coalition government that includes numerous political parties that have at least one seat in the Knesset–Israel’s 120-seat parliament.

This new, very right-wing and quite religious coalition party of Likud’s Prime Minister Netanyahu pretty much guarantees that the traditional two-state solution for solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict–a Palestinian state in all or most of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip–is deader than it has ever been and therefore will not happen during this administration. That just makes it all more plausible what I’ve been saying for over forty years–that there needs to be another geo-political, two-state solution. And along with that, I’ve said that it should be based on historical precedent. What do I mean?

Jewish leaders started a war in 1948 with the indigenous Arab peoples of The Levant and surrounding Arab states by drafting and publishing a three-page document that they called the Proclamation of Independence. In it, they declared the right of the Jewish people to establish a state in their “ancestral land,” which it also identified as Eretz Yisrael, meaning Land of Israel. The war lasted about 18 months and ended with a line of demarcation between the warring parties called the Green Line, which marked off what came to be called the West Bank. The majority of the indigenous Arab peoples, who later called themselves Palestinians, lived inside the Green Line, thus inside the West Bank. Jews lived outside of it, all the way west to the coast, including Tel Aviv. The shape of the Green Line was very roughly about a portion of a circle with two bulges that ended at the north and south, straight line formed by the Jordan River-Dead Sea in the east.

This Green Line that separated Palestinians from Jews was based on the settlement of the land in the previous generations, beginning especially with the immigration of Jews during the 1880s due to five waves of Russian pogroms. Jews got their state that was recognized by the young UN, especially the U.S., but Palestinians did not get their own state. Some Israeli leaders even claimed there were NOT any Palestinians, which was a lie based on semantics. Some Israeli leaders called for the neighboring State of Jordan to receive Palestinians as citizens and thereby solve the growing problem of their desire for their own state. But that was not a workable solution since Jordan could not economically support such a large-scale immigration. And Jordan regarded the problem as belonging to Israel, not Jordan.

A very thorny problem, which Israeli leaders have never wanted to discuss publicly, has been that Israel’s Proclamation of Independence claimed a right to the Jews’ ancestral land, yet that is not at all what happened. Jews did not get the very heartland of their ancestors, which they call by the ancient geographical names Judea and Samaria, where the two tribes of Judah and the Samaritans lived 3,000 years ago.

Amazingly, the West Bank’s Green Line approximates almost exactly the ancient borders of Judea and Samaria. Moreover, what Jews got for their State of Israel included the coastal plain that had belonged to the arch rival of their ancestors–the Philistines, from whom the modern Palestinians derive their name. Thus, much of modern Israel consists of “the land of the Philistines” which the ancient Israelites hardly ever possessed. And when they did, it was only a small portion of Philistia and that for a very short period of time. In fact, the Philistines probably possessed more land known as Eretz Yisrael for longer periods of time than the reverse.

Israeli political leaders have never wanted us to know about this. Why? If the demands of their Proclamation of Independence were ever carried out, Israel would have to forfeit almost all of its coastal plain, except for Tel Aviv. However, a land swap would have to take place in which Israel would then get all of the West Bank. I think a lot of Israeli Jews would find this proposal appealing. Palestinians in Gaza sure would.

That’s what my book says, which I wrote and published 32 years ago, entitled Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philista. Ever since that book was published, events have been slowly moving in the direction that I lay out in the book. I call it the New Palestine solution, which is an alternative to the traditional, two-state, West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state.

With this new Netanyahu administration, my proposal for solving this conflict has never looked so good. Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu declared when he was sworn in days ago, with respect to the Israeli-Palestinians conflict, the Jewish people’s “exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel.” And in saying this, he pledged an even greater support to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which the U.S. has always opposed except only during the Trump administration.

It is time for important people to challenge this declaration by Netanyahu. That is, require that he define “the Land of Israel.” In that statement, he means the Eretz Yisrael of Israel’s Proclamation of Independence, which is defined in t as the Jews’ “ancestral land.” That can only be the land Jews possessed during antiquity and not the so-called “promised land” which God promised the Israelites and their descendants. That is a point many Bible readers get mixed-up about.

So, the time has never been better to challenge the State of Israel to define “the Land of Israel.” To support my point, I’ll quote a paragraph from my book, which is as follows:

“Jews have never decisively designated the borders of Eretz Yisrael (Hebrew for ‘the land of Israel’). Throughout their scriptures and ancient rabbinic literature, Eretz Israel ‘was never defined with geographical precision.’1. This condition remains today. When an Israeli leader asked U.S. President Johnson to recognize Israel’s acquisition of the occupied territories [of the 1967, Six-Day War], he retorted, ‘You are asking me to recognize your borders? You have never defined the borders of Israel.’ Indeed, ‘the definition of what constituted the confines of Eretz Israel is one of the thorniest problems in Jewish literature.'”2

  1. Halsell, Prophecy and Politics: Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War (1986, p. 150).
  2. Yehuda Elizur, “The Borders of Israel in Jewish Tradition,” in Whose Homeland: Eretz Israel: Roots of the Jewish Claim, ed. Abner Tomaschoff (1978, p. 42).

 


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