War And Peace In The Middle East

In a study of contrasts, two major coming events were announced this week that demonstrate the volatility of the Middle East these days.

Perspective by Jack Kelley

“If you have come to me in peace, to help me, I am ready to have you unite with me. But if you have come to betray me to my enemies when my hands are free from violence, may the God of our fathers see it and judge you.” (1 Chron. 12:17)

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:14)

In a study of contrasts, two major coming events were announced this week that demonstrate the volatility of the Middle East these days.

The first was a report I received stating that a meeting between Quartet (US, UN, EU, and Russia), Palestinian Authority, and Israeli leaders will take place in Egypt in mid-July. The meeting was announced by the EU’s Javier Solana, and will feature Tony Blair in his first big assignment as the Quartet’s Middle East envoy.

According to a report in the The Daily Star Egypt these countries are very close to finalizing a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. It would feature a two-state solution similar to the one Yassir Arafat was said to have been offered at the 2000 Camp David meeting by then Israeli PM Ehud Barak and then US Pres. Bill Clinton. (Although it was practically everything he had demanded, Arafat turned it down and went home to begin the 2000 Intifada.)

Apparently ‘moderate’ Palestinians are now ready to sign such a peace treaty with Israel. “It is looking positive in the West Bank,” the report says, where Israel has returned tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and the EU has resumed relations with the PA. Palestinian President Abbas also enjoys the support of the US, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

Abbas is actually stronger than before as he and his Fatah party no longer need approval from Hamas, as was the case under their unity government. If this plan succeeds, Hamas will be relegated to the status of a terrorist organization in control of an isolated Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian State would occupy a substantially enlarged area of the West Bank. Hamas’ recent success in gaining the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston was an attempt to counter this marginalization and get back into the mainstream.

Some are saying that this meeting in Egypt could actually result in peace between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of July. If it really does, and if the treaty’s provisions are adhered to, it could begin the period of peace that leads us to the Battle of Ezekiel 38. Think of the possibilities. The security fence could come down, to be replaced by an international peace keeping force that gives Israel a false sense of security in a land of unwalled villages. The peace keeping force could even include Russians, giving them an excuse to have a contingent of troops in the Middle East. This one bears watching.

The highways are deserted, no travelers are on the roads. The treaty is broken, its witnesses are despised, no one is respected. The land mourns and wastes away, Lebanon is ashamed and withers (Isaiah 33:8-9)

News of the other event arrived in my email on Friday July 6. According to Arab and Iranian sources the crisis in Lebanon could erupt into violence by mid-July. That’s when the Hizballah backed Lebanese opposition has threatened to set up a second government to challenge the pro-west al-Siniora regime’s right to govern. Hizballah could even turn its weapons on Lebanese targets in Beruit in an effort to unseat the al-Siniora government.

While various political reasons are given as justification for the crisis, in truth it’s being created by Syria in an effort to stage a coup in Lebanon and take over the government. In recognition of the potential for violence, Syria has ordered all of its citizens living in Lebanon to return home by July 15. The establishment of a rival government could literally split Lebanon in half with the south and east following the opposition while the north and west remain loyal to the current government. (The southern part of Lebanon shares a border with Israel and the eastern portion lies next to Syria.)

Certain of the outcome, the Syrian army is already building fortified positions and digging trenches in eastern Lebanon, and Hizballah is moving arms and equipment into the south in its most flagrant violation yet of the UN resolution. Their intention is to create a military zone in preparation for war with Israel.

The opposition believes that the Lebanese army will remain neutral in this coup attempt, and the UN troops, stationed there to prevent another war with Israel, will realize their safety cannot be assured and depart.</p.

Syria has also opened a border crossing with Israel that’s been closed for 40 years. It’s in the Golan and its purpose is to allow Syrian terrorists into Israel. These terrorists call themselves resistance fighters whose goal is to liberate the Golan. They’ll be following a strategy similar to that which the Palestinians have used against Israel in the south, with suicide bombings and other attacks against civilian and military targets. They’ve been training in Syria over the past year and are now ready to go on the offense.

Observers believe that this is another attempt to lure Israel into a confrontation with Syria and its client Hizballah. It seems like new experts come forward with predictions for a summer war between Israel and Syria almost every day. The latest is Dennis Ross, the former senior American Middle East peace negotiator.

If Syria’s coup attempt in Lebanon is allowed to mature, the odds are that the war everyone’s predicting will in fact take place. And as incredible as this sounds, Syria is arming missiles with chemical warheads for use against Israel, believing that if they launch them, Israel will flatten Damascus in retaliation. Accordingly they’re moving the country’s archives out of Damascus to preserve their records against such an eventuality. It’s like they’ve read Isaiah 17 and accepted the outcome as a reasonable price to pay.

We’ll know in a week or two whether either or both of these events will take place as announced. If it’s not God’s timing something will happen at the last minute to stop them. But if they are at the top of His agenda, then by the end of July, it’s quite possible that the “birth pangs” we’re experiencing will have taken a big leap in both frequency and intensity, meaning that our “delivery” may be coming sooner than we think.

If you still have one foot in the Kingdom and the other in the World, it’s time to take the final step and get serious about preparing for your next life. This one may be about over. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 07-07-07

Post Script:
The same day I posted this article, I received three additional reports that give added emphasis to my comments on the volatility of the Middle East.

1. World Net Daily has reported that “if Israel doesn’t vacate the strategic Golan Heights before September, Syrian guerillas will immediately launch “resistance operations” against the Golan’s Jewish communities, a top official from Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Baath party told WND.

The Baath official, who spoke on condition his name be withheld, said Damascus is preparing for anticipated Israeli retaliation following Syrian guerilla attacks and for a larger war with the Jewish state in August or September. He said in the opening salvo of any conflict, Syria has the capabilities of firing “hundreds” of missiles at Tel Aviv.”

2. And from Jerusalem: “The 22-country Arab League will send envoys on a historic first mission to Israel this week to discuss a sweeping Arab peace initiative and how it might prop up embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli and Arab diplomats said Sunday.

The announcement came the same day Israel’s Cabinet approved the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners, hoping to bolster Abbas in his power struggle with the Islamic militant Hamas.”

3. There’s also a secret initiative taking place between Hamas and Fatah to bury the hatchet and re-instate the unity government that Pres. Abbas declared illegal after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. Apparently there’s intense pressure being brought to bear by Iran and Saudi Arabia for the Palestinians to make nice and remember who the real enemy is. Better stay tuned. You don’t want to miss any of this.