History of the Conflict in the Middle East
Some may scoff at Tass’s change of heart and say “religion” is at the root of this conflict.
First, God told Abram (later Abraham) when he was 75 years old that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham’s wife, Sarai (later Sarah), was impatient for this promise to be fulfilled so after ten years had passed, she convinced Abraham to conceive a child through her Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar. This was the start of the conflict, because Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands.
Next, Sarah despised Hagar and Abraham gave her permission to handle the situation as she saw best. Her solution was to send Hagar into the desert to die. Again, Abraham and Sarah’s choices added to the conflict. However, an angel of God visited Hagar and told her to return to Sarah and submit to her and that God would increase her descendants so they would be too numerous to count. She was also told she was pregnant with a son and to name him Ishmael and that he would live in hostility toward all his brothers. This is a preview of what was to come and what we are still dealing with today.
When Abraham was nearing 100 years old, God told him the next year when Sarah was 99 years old that she would bear him a son who was to be called Isaac. Just as God said, Isaac was born and on the day Isaac was weaned, Abraham held a great feast. Sarah happened to notice that Ishmael was mocking Isaac. Ishmael added to the conflict by rejecting Isaac. As a result, Sarah told Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” Because of Sarah’s choice the conflict deepened.
Abraham was deeply troubled because he loved Ishmael. God said to Abraham to listen to Sarah because Abraham’s offspring would be reckoned through Isaac and that God would make Ishmael into a great nation because he was Abraham’s offspring.
The next day, Abraham gave food and water to Hagar and sent her and Ishmael off to wander in the desert. This is the second time Abraham agreed to send Hagar to the desert and now along with Ishmael. This rejection of Ishmael by his father Abraham has had a lasting impact even to this day – rejection and shame are at the very center of this conflict. God continued to protect Ishmael despite the choices made by Abraham and Sarah.
God is not the villain in this story. God has given humans free will to not only hurt one another but also to choose to forgive and love those who have hurt us. God has told us to turn away from evil and do good, to seek peace and pursue it. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Unless peace occurs, violence and hatred will remain between Palestinians and Israelis as shown in this video.
The Two-State Solution
The two-state solution, as most people understand it, would allow Gaza and the West Bank to become its own separate country apart from Israel. Many believe this type of two-state solution is necessary to bring peace to this ongoing conflict. We believe this type of two-state solution will not work and that Israel should be one country. We have been greatly criticized for this position but continue to believe it is best.
A one-state Federation would allow the Palestinians in the West Bank to have a voice in Israel’s government and to share in Israel’s economic prosperity.
Under the proposed one-state Federation:
● The West Bank, but not Gaza would join the Federation.
● Israel and the West Bank would be one country that is separated into cantons.
● Like Switzerland, each canton would have far-reaching autonomy. Depending on how they are set up they could be given control of their own law enforcement, hospitals, schools and public services
What About Gaza?
It is proposed that Gaza would become its own nation called the State of Palestine. So, in one sense, this would be a twist on the two-state solution – the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.
What would be necessary for this to happen:
● Gaza would have to agree to disarm.
● Because Gaza’s population is roughly 2 million people, additional land would need to be ceded to Gaza from Israel and land from the Sinai Peninsula by Egypt.
● Through Gaza’s cooperation, investment could be made to improve their infrastructure, seaport and airport.
Over time, as Gaza sees the economic prosperity of the Palestinians from the West Bank improving, they could choose to participate in the Federation but as a separate country.
Other Problems with the Two-State Solution
From a logistical standpoint, a two-state solution where Gaza and the West Bank come together to form one country is impractical due to the geographic distance between Gaza and the West Bank.
Under this type of two-state solution, both the security of the Palestinians and the Israelis would be at risk. In fact, it would probably worsen based on what is currently happening in Gaza today. Gaza is currently governed by Hamas and the West Bank by the Palestinian National Authority (PLO). Could these two factions reconcile and work together in one country? History has shown this is unlikely. Neither group is willing to give up any power for the sake of the other.