Nov 28, 2007

After Annapolis: What Now For Arab-Israeli Peace?

By Joel Rosenberg

(Washington, D.C., November 28, 2007) -- How should we assess the Annapolis conference? First, the good news:

* President Bush, to his great credit, is doing everything he possibly can to keep another horrible war from breaking out in the epicenter. I don't think in the end he will be successful, but I strongly applaud him for trying. He is following the words of Jesus, "Blessed are the peacemakers." With great difficulty, he brought together senior leaders from almost 50 countries -- including Syria, including the head of the Arab League, and including the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- in the hopes of jump-starting a new dialogue for peace. I, for one, am grateful for his efforts.

* The U.S. emerged once again as a global agenda-setter, working hard to build a global alliance of moderate, peaceful, reformer Muslim leaders against the radical Islamic jihadist leaders that Iran is trying to pull together into an alliance against Israel and the West.

* Syria's participation in the Annapolis conference, which infuriated Iran, was particularly welcome. Tensions along the Golan Heights are running high. War clouds between Damascus and Jerusalem are clearly building. The fact that Syria was willing to meet in a diplomatic setting like this is good news. It may not ultimately be enough to prevent a war, but it is still a welcome development.

* The Israelis and the Palestinians are going to begin regular peace talks beginning December 12. This, too, is good -- though Prime Minister Olmert must strongly and firmly insist from the outset that talks absolutely cannot continue if southern Israeli towns like Sderot continue to be hit by rockets and mortars. The shelling must stop immediately. The first provision of the "Road Map to Peace" was Israeli security. Nothing else should be discussed until the border is quiet.

* President Bush did not publicly pressure Olmert to divide Jerusalem, and Olmert did not publicly immediately put Jerusalem on the table. This, too, is good, though I suspect it's only temporary. Still, let's take one day at a time.

Now, the bad news:

* A process is now in place that will, in fact, steadily and dramatically increase international pressure on Israel to give up something tangible (land, sovereignty) for something historically elusive, at best ("recognition" by the Islamic world and, of course, "peace"). If Israel is not careful, she could end up feeling forced to give away the store.

* We know by his previous statements and those of his advisors that Prime Minister Olmert is already disposed to give away nearly all of the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank, as well as up to half of Jerusalem. He is going to have plenty of opportunities to thus "respond" to this growing international pressure in the weeks and months ahead. This is a serious concern.

* It is not clear that Mr. Olmert has learned the lessons of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 or her withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Rather than Israel receiving "recognition" and "peace" in return for such land giveaways, the radical jihadist group Hamas took over Gaza and is steadily consolidating its power in the West Bank. What's more, Israel was attacked by some 4,000 rockets and missiles from Lebanon in 2006 and by more than 2,500 rockets and mortars from Gaza over the past two years. "Land for peace" worked with Egypt in 1979. Israel did not have to give up land for peace with Jordan in 1994, and that peace treaty has held. Is there evidence that giving up land will bring about true and lasting peace with the Palestinians in 2007 or 2008? Sadly, no.

* The very fact that the Israelis are talking about giving up land and dividing Jerusalem is a sign of blood in the water to her enemies, not a good thing when you're surrounded by sharks. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is already organizing a conference of terrorists as an "alternative" to Annapolis. He and his genocidal cronies will do everything they can to sabotage any prospect for peace, however slim, and then say, "See, we told you so! Now it's time for war." Ahmadinejad sees Olmert and his government as weak, exhausted, and doomed to collapsed. He said as much yesterday after a cabinet meeting in Tehran. "It is impossible that the Zionist regime will survive," Ahmadinejad insisted. "Collapse is in the nature of this regime because it has been created on aggression, lying, oppression and crime." Moreover, Ahmadinejad believes the winds of history are at his back. He believes he is doing Allah's will to obliterate Israel and annihilate Judeo-Christian civilization as we know it. Annapolis will very likely serve as a catalyst to him to get his nuclear weapons program complete, take care of Israel once and for all, to bring about the global carnage and chaos necessary to usher in the coming of the Mahdi.

* Russia has announced that it is going to host a post-Annapolis summit soon. President Vladimir Putin can't stand the notion that President Bush has emerged in recent years as the game-changer in the Middle East. Putin wants that role for himself. The difference is Bush wants to support the Reformers, while Putin is siding with the Radicals. We must watch carefully to see how Putin reacts to Annapolis and what new initiatives he might try to put on the table. One possibility: "a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone" that would seek to turn the world's attention away from Iran and put the spotlight on disarming Israel.

Where do we go from here?

* Let me start by saying I believe the Israeli public sincerely wants peace with the Palestinians. They sincerely want the Palestinian people to run their own affairs, govern their own lives, raise their children in peace and safety, and have a growing economy that can bless and benefit everyone in the region. I wholeheartedly share this desire.

* That said, we must be clear: Hamas does not want peace with Israel. Hamas wants what Iran wants: the annihilation of Israel. And Hamas is calling the shots in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (aka, Abu Mazen) is a weak figurehead right now. His Fatah/PLO organization is withering beneath him. It may not be long before it completely collapses and Hamas takes full control in the West Bank as it has in Gaza. Should Israel really be negotiating with terrorists? Should we really risk putting the Christian holy sites of Jerusalem under the control of radical Islamic jihadists. Look what's happening to Christians in Gaza. They are being attacked, harassed, persecuted and even martyred. Muslims who don't subscribe to the full Hamas agenda have been slaughtered on the streets of Gaza. Journalists are being kidnapped there. Under no circumstances should such a fanatical group of people be allowed to control the West Bank or any piece of Jerusalem. It is insane to think otherwise.

* President Bush should, therefore, take an historic trip to Israel soon and address the Israeli Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem. He should make clear to the Islamic world that the U.S. stands with Israel and that we will do nothing to compromise her safety or security.

* The President and Congress should also make it clear that the U.S. considers Jerusalem the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel. We should move our Embassy there immediately. This would send a clear and powerful message to Israel's enemies that Jerusalem is not a Thanksgiving turkey to be carved up, slice by slice.

* We should recruit more people to sign Natan Sharansky's online petition to protect Jerusalem and keep it unified. See below to visit

* Evangelical Christians must obey Psalm 122:6 to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem." Such prayers are needed as much as ever. The Joshua Fund is seeking to mobilize 100,000 partners around the globe to pray knowledgeably and consistently for peace in the region and to get our Flash Traffic geopolitical updates. We've gone from 3,000 to 39,000 such partners in the last year. If you know someone who would like to sign up for Flash Traffic, please forward this email to them and encourage them to get onboard.

* We also need to mobilize evangelical Christians to provide even more humanitarian relief supplies to poor and needy Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese, and to preposition more supplies in the region ahead of coming wars. This year, we've sent nearly $2 million worth of relief supplies into the region to care for needy Jews and Arabs, but so much more needs to be done. That's what The Joshua Fund's "Operation Epicenter" is all about. Find out more and consider getting involved at