Some of my friends and followers here may be confused about the idea of a two-state solution, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace. Twenty years ago, the majority of Israelis were in favor of a two-state solution to preserve the Jewish majority in the Jewish state and a way for Palestinian Arabs to have their own state where they could live with full national identity among the nations. Many Messianic Jews in Israel supported this solution, but many did not. Many were optimistic that this would happen.
Some Messianic Jews agreed with the right-wing nationalist Orthodox who looked at the book of Joshua and saw that Israel had a mandate to take the whole land. Only by exercising faith and taking all the land from the Jordan to the Mediterranean can we have the blessing of God on Israel. Palestinians who desire to live in peace and live with some level of autonomy but not citizenship can stay, and those who do not want to live in peace on this basis would have to leave.
Other Messianic Jews rejected this view called maximalist. Why? Because Israel has not repented of sin and come to fully embrace the Bible’s teaching on morals and life. We have not come to Yeshua but even more, the state supports abortion, the LGBTQ agenda and so much more. Of course, the Orthodox Jews do reject these orientations. We Messianic Jews believe in Israel and the return to the Land, but a counsel of taking the whole Land now may not have God’s favor. It might bring destruction as the Zealots in the first century brought Roman destruction on Israel. This is still a debate among Messianic Jews in the Land.
However, today the majority of Messianic Jews and the great majority of Israelis reject the two-state solution, at least for now. This is not as wrongly perceived in the West because of the domination of the right-wing national Orthodox. Rather, the Israelis are disillusioned with the Palestinians and the two-state solution. It is not religious reasons that drive them. Here are the reasons.
- Israel sought to have a two-state solution under Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. What happened? The first big attempt was during the time of Yassir Arafat. He rejected the plan negotiated with President Bill Clinton. When he walked away, Clinton said to him, “You have made me a failure.” Prime Minister Olmert negotiated even more generous terms, terms that no Israeli government could go beyond. He offered 97% of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and East Jerusalem for a Palestinian State. He offered land swaps for the 3%. He offered a right of return to near relatives of Arabs living on the Israel side of the new border, but other refugees could return to the new state. Mohammed Abbas rejected the plan. Again, later there was another violent intifada uprising. Israelis became convinced that the Palestinians did not really want a two-state solution, but it was only a game played for the West. Maybe Abbas was afraid of the radicals like Hamas and thought if he accepted peace, he would be killed. Remember Anwar Sadat of Egypt.
- Secondly, Israel under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was pro-settling Judea and Samaria, came to believe that two-states were necessary to preserve Israel. He withdrew all Israeli settlements from Gaza and turned this completely over to the Palestinians. It was a grand experiment. There was no blockade. They were totally free and were encouraged to make Gaza a great place. This was very controversial. Sharon’s desire was for them to succeed. If they did then he could withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria except for the big settlement blocks needed for Israel’s territory depth for defense and security. He said he wanted to draw the border. Because he did not think the Palestinians would accept any agreement, he decided that unilateral withdrawal was the way forward.
Gaza then came under Hamas rule. They killed Palestinian Authority government leaders and took over. The population supported Hamas. Hamas did not want a two state solution but wanted to destroy Israel. They turned Gaza into an armed military camp with offensive weapons galore. This is the background for the present war.
- After this, the left wing parties declined and never again came into power. Labor that had been so big dwindled to be a tiny party. Why? As Israelis looked at this history, they came to believe that there was no real partner for peace. Palestinian education was anti-Semitic. The Palestinian authorities gave big support stipends to terrorists who were jailed or killed. This is called pay for slay.
Contrary to Western perceptions, Israel’s rejection of a two state solution was not due to the religious fanatics, but due to a hard evaluation of the history and the present situation.
Only a change of heart among the Palestinians can lead to lasting peace under any scenario.