To understand more fully recent developments in the Middle East between Israel and certain Arab nations, it is helpful to consider a little history of 100 years ago.

World War I ended with an armistice agreed by all the powers involved on 11 November 1918. Just under two months later, in January 1919, a Peace Conference was convened in Paris by the world’s major powers with an objective of trying to establish the means to prevent future wars. The eventual outcome was the formation of the ill-fated League of Nations; an organisation similar in scope to the current United Nations.

Remarkably, at the very beginning of the Paris conference, Emil Feisal, representing Arab powers, and Chaim Weizmann, representing Jewish interests, met to propose an understanding of cooperation in Palestine between the two peoples. The agreement sought joint administration of the land with “cordial goodwill” and freedom of religion.

Their objectives were admirable but never stood a chance of success. Palestinian nationalism was on the rise and, in particular, Muhammad Amin Al-Husseini, who became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, did everything in his power to frustrate the Feisal/Weizmann agreement and in fact, was responsible for a number of anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem.

So the hope of Jewish-Arab cooperation in Palestine came to an end. In much the same way that Britain’s planned capture of Constantinople in WWI was not in the purpose of God, so the establishment of a rapport between Israelis and Arabs was, likewise, not in God’s purpose at the time.

The years rolled by and Weizmann was very determined to promote the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. He was extremely dogged in his efforts and his speech to the 1947 United Nations Special Committee on Palestine delegation regarding the Partition plan for Palestine was very moving, in which he supported partition into Jewish and Arab states.

And then, finally, the Jewish dream came to a reality with the proclamation of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948. The day after the proclamation of the Jewish state, the combined armies of five Arab states launched their attacks on the new state with the object of snuffing it out very quickly. But success by the Arabs was not to be – they did not count on the God of Israel. To the amazement of the Arabs – and the world – Israel not only withstood most of the attacks but actually increased their control of territory.

It is important to note that in the light of Ezekiel 38, one of the armies determined to destroy Israel was the Saudi army.

A ceasefire of all parties was arranged in 1949 but that had little effect on the Arab’s position against Israel – something that has officially been maintained right up to today. I say “officially” because in reality we are now beginning to witness a remarkable behind the scenes cooperation developing between Saudi Arabia (Sheba and Dedan), the Persian Gulf states and Israel.

What has brought about this change? The principal reason has been the growing belligerent position of Iran and their open desire to develop a nuclear weapon. Whilst still maintaining their “official” Arab position towards Israel, these strongly pro-western (read USA and Great Britain particularly) Arab states have come to the logical conclusion that having Israel on their side against Iran’s Middle East objectives is far better than not.

The current attitude of Saudi Arabia towards Israel is nothing short of breathtaking. The Middle East Monitor, back in 2017, recorded this observation: “An American diplomat said that appointing Mohammed Bin Salman as crown prince of Saudi Arabia was like a “dream come true for Israel”, Haaretz reported.

The former US Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, said that the appointment of Bin Salman opens an unprecedented opportunity for Israel to improve its regional position and supports it in facing its strategic and security challenges.

Shapiro restated the fact that Bin Salman sees a link between Saudi Arabia and Israel’s interests and threats which will allow Tel Aviv to benefit.

The rise of strong Arab leaders who see Israel’s enemies as their own enemies actually serves the interests of Israel and the United States

‘This development could lead to the formation of an axis that includes the United States, the Sunni Arab states and Israel since they share common strategic interests and are prepared to confront extremist forces in the region’, he added.”

 

In 2018, Mohammed Bin Salman pushed aside his older and more experienced cousin and laid out his vision for the future, which included the possibility of co- operation with Israel. So what began in 1919 as an attempt to forge closer cooperation between Arabs and Israelis, is now 100 years later, in 2019, becoming a reality, as we would expect from Ezekiel 38. The phrase, “Israel and her Arab friends”, unthinkable for the past 100 years, is developing into a major policy drive in the Middle East.

How remarkable is the hand of God on the world stage!

The oil rich Saudis have great plans for the Middle East. They recently unveiled their blueprint to construct a mega city to be called Neom, 33 times bigger than New York, on the desolate sands of the Arabian Peninsula.

What is of great significance is the relatively close proximity of Neom to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. The Saudis make no secret of the fact that they wish to greatly facilitate trade in the area and Israel is part of their plan.

What is perhaps of greater significance is the Saudi plan to construct a rail line from Eilat to Ashdod! The project is designed to facilitate the speedy transport of goods to Haifa and thence quickly to the rich European and world markets.

On 25 June this year, the White House’s Jared Kushner outlined in Bahrain a $50 billion Middle East economic plan that would create a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighbouring Arab state economies, and fund a $5 billion transportation corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza.

The “peace to prosperity” plan includes 179 infrastructure and business projects, according to details of the plan and interviews with US officials. The approach toward reviving the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process was criticised by the Palestinians, even though more than half of the $50 billion would be spent in the economically troubled Palestinian territories over 10 years while the rest would be split between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

The Times reported on the event in this extract dated 29 June 2019: “Saudi Arabia has traditionally been regarded as a guarantor of Palestinian rights. It supported the Arab Peace Initiative, which is based on the Palestinians being granted sovereignty under the “two-state solution”. Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, said the administration no longer regarded that as the basis for future peace.”

UAE finance minister Tayer said: ‘We should give this initiative a chance’.

The Bahraini Foreign Minister said the proposal was a ‘game-changer’ for relations between Israel and the Arab world. He added that in Bahrain’s view Israel had a ‘right to exist’and was ‘here to stay’.

Several participants insisted any finance would depend on a political solution that was acceptable to the Palestinians. King Salman has insisted he will not abandon the Palestinian dream of an independent state. He seems, however, to have established a compromise with his son, Crown Prince bin Salman, who appears to be leading a drive for better relations with Israel.

Their statements continue to insist on the initiative in theory, but it seems the Gulf states will proceed with integrating Israel into the region’s security and economic infrastructure. The most noticeable feature of the Gulf conference was the first invitation to Israeli businessmen and journalists. A Jewish visitor organised a service at Bahrain Synagogue which was led by a rabbi from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and attended by Jason Greenblatt, the US envoy to the peace process, among others. The service was also attended by a former Bahraini ambassador to the US. She said it was the first time in her lifetime the synagogue had a quorum of 10 Jewish men necessary for a service.”

We can more clearly see the remarkable scene portrayed in Ezekiel 38 of Sheba and Dedan challenging Gog in his invasion of Israel.

The end of the time of the end is fast approaching and it is very interesting to note that when Gog invades Israel, causing the Jewish people to flee their land, it will be another Arab nation, Jordan (ancient Edom, Moab and Ammon), which shall in the purpose of God provide sustenance to these refugees.

We look with great anticipation to the day when God’s grand purpose for both Jews and Arabs will become a reality.