Israeli-Palestinian Stalled Peace Process May Be Revived

 Recent developments in the Middle East indicate that the peace process which has stalled for some months may be on the verge of being revived—although slowly, as usual.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is continually under pressure from President Clinton of the USA to grant further concessions to the Palestinians, despite repeated violations by the Palestinians of their responsibilities under the process.

Twenty years ago Egypt and Israel hammered out an agreement at Camp David that led to the 1979 Israeli-Egypt Peace Treaty. In a surprise statement on 24/2/98, Mr. Netanyahu called for intensive USbrokered talks with Yasser Arafat to discuss issues at the core of the stalled peace process.

“‘We should sit down together, Mr. Arafat and myself, in the presence of the Americans, for example at Camp David in the US, to solve the problem and reach an historic accord,’ Mr. Netanyahu said in a television debate. Senior Palestinian official Ziad Abu Zayyad said Mr. Arafat had indicated agreement with the plan. ‘President Arafat says that agreements that have already been signed must be implemented but, at the same time, it is possible to close ourselves off in a place, to conduct talks on the final status’”, he said (The Australian 25 February 1998).

In 1993 Israel and the PLO signed an agreement in Oslo, Norway, which set a 5 May 1999 deadline for a final settlement between the two sides. With only a little over a year to go before the deadline is reached, pressure is mounting for progress.

The re-election in March of Ezer Weizman as the President of Israel for a second five-year term has given impetus to the peace talks.

“Mr Weizman, who has pressed Mr Netanyahu to move forward in the peace process, received congratulatory calls after his re-election on Wednesday from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak” (The Australian 6 March 1998)

Mr Weizman, whose uncle Chaim Weizman was Israel’s first President, helped forge Israel’s landmark peace treaty with Egypt in 1979. He upset Mr Netanyahu when he urged visiting US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (herself a Jewess) to “bang heads together” in an attempt to break the deadlock that has beset Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations for the past twelve months.

From another quarter, The Advertiser 10/3/98 reported that 1500 Israeli army officers published an open letter calling on Mr Netanyahu to hand over more land to the Palestinians.

“The signatories, including eleven generals and 216 colonels, say the Government must save the peace process. An historic chance for peace could slip through our fingers and lead to war or a new intifada [Palestinian uprising] if the Israeli Government does not pursue the peace process launched by the Oslo accords and carry out required troop withdrawals, the letter says. “The Maariv newspaper, which published the letter, said the document marked the Twentieth anniversary of a petition submitted in 1978 to then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, calling on him to respond to peace overtures from the Egyptian president, Mr Anwar Sadat.”

The Israeli Labour opposition leader Ehud Barak has also clearly supported the Palestinian position.

“‘We must recognise the Palestinians’ right to self-determination within the borders set in the negotiations on the final status of the territories’, he said while visiting a kibbutz. Mr Barak said he was convinced that the Palestinians would proclaim their State and ‘maybe also form a confederation with Jordan’.

He also called for ‘total separation’ of the two peoples in order to establish a ‘good neighbour’ relationship with ‘mutual respect’.

Mr Barak said he was opposed to Israel returning to its 1967 borders and that the disputed city of Jerusalem would remain the unified capital of the Jewish State” (The Weekend Australian, 7–8 March 1998).

The scriptures reveal that Israel shall enjoy a measure of peace and security prior to the invasion by Gog—Ezekiel 38:8,11,14. Whilst none of us can determine the exact outcome of the latest peace moves, it would appear that these events are leading to the situation required by the Word of God.

How close are we to the Lord’s return?

Russian President Yeltsin Does An About- Turn

 The Australian 2/3/98 wrote of an interesting change of heart by President Yeltsin:

“When he was a regional Communist Party boss, Boris Yeltsin carried out an order to demolish the house where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered in 1918. Now the Russian President and his government are preparing to bury, with full national recognition, what have been officially declared the Romanov family’s remains.”

The presumed remains of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were found in 1978 and exhumed in 1991. After extensive DNA testing involving amongst other things comparing the DNA of a living relative, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, the remains have now been declared to be authentically those of the Romanovs.

The Russian Cabinet has endorsed their authenticity and ordered that they be buried on 17 July in St Petersburg’s St Peter and St Paul Cathedral, the resting place of the Romanovs since Peter the Great. The burial date marks the eightieth anniversary of the Bolsheviks’ execution of the Tsar and his family in the cellar of a house in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg. It was Lenin, as head of the Bolsheviks, who gave the order for the executions. Lenin was the man who said that “religion is the opium of the people”, and the Bolsheviks set out to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church.

Now, eighty years later, the Russian Cabinet is to bury the Romanovs in an Orthodox church! Life certainly takes some interesting twists and turns. The Yeltsin government for some time has been fostering better relationships with the Orthodox Church and, whilst at this stage the Church is still not convinced that the remains are authentic, nevertheless it will go along with the Government’s plans.

It was Brother Thomas in his Exposition of Daniel who said that at the time of the end Gog would see the benefits of having religion on his side. Mikhail Gorbachev admitted in 1992 that “everything that happened in eastern Europe during these few years would have been impossible without the Pope” (The Weekend Australian, 24–25 January 1998). Gorbachev’s statement also provides an answer to Stalin’s cynical question when questioning the supposed power of the Papacy: “The Pope? And how many divisions has the Pope?” Quite a few, as the world leaders have come to realise. The Russian leaders have become reconciled to the fact that, if they wish to control the masses, then they must have religion on their side. Currently they are fostering better relations with the Orthodox Church, but the time will come when they will see the value of also enlisting the help of the Roman Church.

Brother Thomas understood from Daniel 8:25 the reference to co-operation between Gog and the Church—“through his [Gog’s] policy also he shall cause [priest] craft to prosper in his hand”.

 What exciting days we are living in as we see the veracity of God’s Word being played out before our eyes.

Hussein Rattles The Iraqi Sword Once Again

 In 1991 the USA, as leaders of a grand coalition of forces under “Operation Desert Storm”, pushed the Iraqis out of Kuwait and inflicted heavy casualties on the Iraqi army. But when the shooting was all over President Hussein was still in power.

Seven years later Hussein rattled his sword once again in refusing to comply with UN directions to allow UN inspectors full and unfettered access in inspection of the chemical and biological warfare stockpile sites.

Iraq is a very small power on the world stage, yet President Hussein was certainly being treated very seriously by the great powers, certainly by USA and Great Britain.

Whilst millions in Iraq were in poverty and suffering the effects of trade sanctions, Hussein was determined to snub his nose at the great powers. It was as the prophet predicted: “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong” (Joel 3: 9, 10).

According to the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, as reported in The Australian 16/2/98, President Hussein had been concealing enough chemical weapons to poison the entire world population. A UN investigation revealed that Iraq was unable to account for 600 tonnes of raw materials that could be used to make around 200 tonnes of the deadly VX nerve gas—enough to wipe out every living being on the earth. But when the USA attempted to form once again a coalition of powers to take on Iraq, this time under the heading “Operation Desert Thunder”, response from the great powers was not so enthusiastic.

There are five permanent members on the Security Council—USA, UK, France, China and Russia. Only the UK was prepared to back the USA. The other three were positively against such action. Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair greatly angered the other European nations by adopting his very pro-USA stance. It is highly significant in the light of our understanding of Bible prophecy and in particular Ezekiel 38 that the Tarshish merchant nations—UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were behind the USA, whilst the European continental powers of France and Russia were not. Furthermore, according to a report in The Washington Post a UN investigation had come up with evidence that in 1995 Russia had sold to Iraq a 500 litre fermentation tank designed to produce animal feed but which could also be used for breeding deadly germs. It would appear Russia has not been innocent in this latest crisis.

Whilst the world’s eyes were understandably focused on Iraq, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of an even greater threat to world peace posed by Iran.

“The Islamic revolutionary regime in Iran could soon pose a much greater threat to regional and world stability than Iraq, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

‘The entire world’s attention is understandably and legitimately focused on Saddam Hussein but right across the border in Iran that country is developing freely, without any interference, without any pressure, without any inspectors, ballistic missiles and atomic weapons,’ he said. ‘If you think you have a problem with instability in the world today because Saddam has these weapons [of mass destruction], think how unstable our world would be if the Iranian regime acquires ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] that can reach into Europe and well beyond it’” (The Weekend Australian 14–15 February 1998).

The technology for these ICBMs was being provided by none other than Russia!! And:

“In an extraordinary move aimed at ending the rivalry between the two countries for the sake of co-operation against a ‘common enemy’, Mr Hussein sent his youngest son, Qusay, to represent him at a clandestine meeting last week with Iranian representatives.

“Qusay, who is responsible for security in Iraq, went to the region of al-Shalamja on the Iraqi side of the Iran-Iraq border on February 5, where he met Iranian Intelligence Minister Qorbanali Dorri Najafabadi. According to Western intelligence sources, Qusay was accompanied by the head of Iraqi general intelligence, Rafia Daham al-Takriti” (The Weekend Australian 14–15 February 1998).

Persia (Iran and Iraq) is named in Ezekiel 38 as one of the powers in Gog’s coalition, and the latest strategic moves by these nations surely must have sinister long term overtones.

Well, as we all know, when the crunch came President Hussein backed off, “Operation Desert Thunder” was put on hold for the time and the UN Secretary General flew back to New York after his meeting with Hussein, with a deal for the world body to consider.

An interesting letter to the editor of The Australian 25/2/98 says it all:

Deja vu: we’ve seen this sort of peace before. There is something eerily familiar about the current world political scene. The rabid dictator who exploits the well-nourished grievances of his own people in order to make demands on the rest of the world so as to further his own ambitions. The general feeling that the dictator’s behaviour will lead to war; the well-meaning world leader who travels to the dictator’s lair to negotiate a compromise; the piece of paper bearing the dictator’s promises to the world community; the general relief that an unwanted war has been averted; the wishful thinking that the dictator will honour his word.

What next? Kofi Annan pronouncing ‘peace in our time’?”

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1Thess 5:3).