If you’re an Israel lover and support Israel’s right to the biblical heartland (FKA* West Bank), then you may be just as confused as I am when it comes to the issue of sovereignty or annexation.
Here’s the real question: is sovereignty in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria good or bad for Israel? If you consider yourself a strong conservative when it comes to Israel, you may consider it bad. On the other hand, if you’re an Israel hater, you may also consider it bad. If you’re more of a centrist, or a center-rightist, you may consider it good for Israel. Confusing? I agree.
Let me explain. President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” was published at the end of January 2020. The plan detailed some amazing things for Israel, including annexing up to about 30% of the heartland. Incredible, right? No other peace plan in history has ever called for allowing sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Most plans just call for Israel to give up land. Indeed, after regaining so much land in the self-defense war of 1967, Israel then turned around and gave more than 90% of that same territory away to its enemies.
On a surface level, the peace plan sounds amazing. If we stop for a second and think though, that while allowing to annex 30% of the heartland, what happens to the other 70% of the land? When comparing the prospective land maps from the Oslo Accords of 1993 and the “Deal of the Century” side by side, it becomes much clearer. While the Oslo Accords are somewhat infamous in their failure to bring peace over the last 25 years, it is shocking to realize that the “Deal of the Century” calls for more Israeli land to be given up than Oslo.
We need to pause here for a moment. Even though this peace plan calls to legitimize many of the settlements in Judea and Samaria, we have to realize that it also calls to give away much of the land of Israel. Let’s take a quick look at what God says about this:
“For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land.” (Joel 3:1-3)
It’s pretty clear that God does not have very good plans for anyone who tries to divide up His land. It is also very clear that He has brought back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem. We are living in the times of the restoration of Israel! If God is so clear about how He feels about dividing up His land, then we should also be clear about our position on the same issue.
Benny Gantz, the political leader of the largest left wing party in Israel, recently entered into negotiations with Prime Minister Netanyahu to form a unity government. To give some context, in January, the day before the “Deal of the Century” was released, Gantz visited the White House, was shown the plan, and then told President Trump that he would fully cooperate when the time came for implementation.
Now here’s where it gets more confusing. Negotiations for a unity government seemed to be going well this past week. Then 140 American-Jewish leaders got together and wrote and signed a letter to Benny Gantz urging him not to agree to any plans for sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Now I know what you’re probably thinking: “Jewish leaders in the United States are against sovereignty in Israel?” I know, me too. They argue that it will harm the opportunities for peace with the Palestinians and U.S.-Israel relations.
Over the past several months, Benny Gantz has clearly shown his ability to flip-flop on a number of issues, and back-tracking on the idea of sovereignty in the heartland seems to be his latest one. At the time of this writing, the unity government that was in progress now seems to be in danger of falling apart. It may be a good thing though as polls are now showing that Likud is growing stronger and stronger while Blue and White appears to be getting weaker and weaker.
If you’re thoroughly confused at this point, don’t worry. You’re not alone. The complexities of Middle Eastern politics have confused many scholars and leaders for many hundreds of years. If we truly read, understand, and choose to stand with God’s Word, however, the confusion begins to dissipate.
God’s Word says we should never divide His land. Scripture tells us of a covenant that was set in stone for all eternity (Genesis 12). A covenant that could never be made null and void. Even though we want sovereignty in Israel’s biblical heartland, we should never support it at the cost of dividing up the land.
Politicians and world leaders may go back and forth, arguing about how and when to divide the land of Israel to try and bring peace to the Middle East. You and I however, know how the story ends. The only question is, which side will we choose to be on? I’ll let you in on a secret – God is for 100% sovereignty over the entire land of Israel. I think we should choose to be on His side.
(FKA stands for “falsely known as.”)