The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians appears to be unending. Will real, lasting peace between these two peoples ever be achieved?
Historically, the Middle East has been a hotbed of contention. Over the centuries the area now known as the nation of Israel and the Palestinian territories has been fought over again and again.
What is the importance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to world peace and the future of mankind?
What brought about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
The recent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes back at least 100 years (BBC.com).
The Ottoman Empire had ruled the area for hundreds of years, but after the Ottomans were defeated in World War I, Britain took control of the land. At the time, the population of Arabs was larger than the population of Jews in the area.
The number of Jews in the area increased between the 1920s and 1940s, especially after World War II and the Holocaust, as European Jews were fleeing persecution and seeking a homeland.
The newly formed United Nations (UN) in 1947 voted for the land to be split into two states—a Jewish state and an Arab state. Jerusalem was to become an international city. This plan was accepted by Jewish leaders, but rejected by the Arab leaders.
Within 12 months, Britain withdrew from the region leaving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unsolved.
Jewish leaders immediately established the nation of Israel on May 14, 1948. The Palestinians objected, leading to a war between the state of Israel and the Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries. This war produced hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and Jewish refugees.
When fighting ended in 1949, Israel controlled the most land, including West Jerusalem, while Jordan controlled the West Bank (of the Jordan River) and East Jerusalem. Gaza was taken by Egypt.
Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees, but the Palestinians were not absorbed by the Arab nations, and many continue living in increasingly crowded refugee camps to this day.
Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and peace efforts
Since there was no peace agreement ending this war, the conflict continues to this day. Within the ongoing conflict, specific times of increased levels of fighting include:
- The 1956 Suez Crisis.
- The 1967 Six-Day War.
- The 1973 Yom Kippur War.
- The 1987 beginning of the First Intifada.
- The 2000 beginning of the Second Intifada.
Many other conflicts erupted between these and have continued ever since.
Many American presidents and others have attempted to negotiate peace deals in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with some successes and many frustrating failures. Some notable peace efforts include:
- The 1978 Camp David Accords, and subsequent 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
- The 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords.
- The 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.
- The 2020 Abraham Accords between Israel and various Arab nations.
Though these peace efforts are laudable, the overall process of negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians has stalled, and the Palestinian leadership has not been pleased that Arab nations have been making agreements with Israel.
At the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the desire of the Palestinians for autonomy and repossession of some or all of the land occupied by the Israelis versus the Israelis’ claim to their ancestral land as well as their desire for security.
At this point in history, neither side seems willing to compromise enough to obtain lasting peace—or to believe peace is really possible.
A land of conflict throughout history
This land has been embattled for thousands of years.
The biblical history of the land begins with Abraham, the progenitor of both the Israelis and Palestinians. Beginning with Genesis, the books in the Old Testament of the Bible cover this history. What follows is a brief synopsis.
Abraham was told by God to leave his home and go to the land of Canaan, which God was going to give to him and his offspring (Genesis 12:1-7; 13:14-18).
Abraham, his son Isaac, his grandson Jacob and their families were then nomads in the land of Canaan until a famine forced Jacob (also known as Israel), his sons and their families to move to Egypt. While in Egypt, the families of the 12 sons of Jacob grew substantially, and their sheer numbers caused Egypt to feel threatened.
Realizing they had a free workforce and not wanting the tribes of Israel to turn against them, the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites for many years.
Under the leadership of Moses, God eventually freed the tribes of Israel from Egyptian slavery and led them back to the land of Canaan. In fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, over a period of time the fledgling nation of Israel took possession of the Promised Land.
During the time of the judges, the nation of Israel slipped into a tragic cycle of disobeying God, which led to the occupation of ancient Israel by some of its neighbors. Upon their repentance, God would rescue the Israelites from their captors. This cycle of occupation and deliverance lasted nearly 400 years.
Throughout the reigns of the kings of ancient Israel, there were many conflicts involving the surrounding nations. After the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel split into the 10 northern tribes of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.
Israel continued to disobey God during the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah. God allowed the 10 northern tribes of Israel to fall to Assyria around 721 B.C. The Assyrians removed the conquered Israelites from the Holy Land and replaced them with captives from other lands. In 586 B.C. the disobedient tribe of Judah was completely conquered, and many of the people in the southern portion of the land were displaced by the Babylonians.
The 10 northern tribes of Israel did not return to the Promised Land; however, 70 years after their captivity, a number of Jews were given permission by Cyrus, king of Persia, to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.
The descendants of the Jews endured many additional occupations of the Holy Land, including ones by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims and the Crusaders.
Also, over the centuries, many descendants of Esau (Edomites) and Ishmael (Arabs) moved into the area. These peoples were also descendants of Abraham, but the Bible describes longstanding jealousies and hatreds between them and the descendants of Israel (Psalm 83:4-6; Ezekiel 35:5).
Will peace be achieved between the nation of Israel and the Palestinians?
The seemingly endless cycle of conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians does not bode well for a peaceful solution.
The chances of a human solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are slim.
With the Holy Land at the crossroads of the world—and at the intersection of Christianity, Judaism and Islam—the resulting conflict is predicted to be the catalyst for future events that will change this world forever.
Biblical prophecy foretells a future time when the Holy Land will be occupied again by a world superpower—the king of the North (Daniel 11:41). The Bible says that leading up to this event, the king of the South will attack the king of the North (verse 40), and the king of the North could very well enter the Holy Land in an attempt to bring peace to the region.
Instead, however, it will usher in an unprecedented time of trouble labeled the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). It will be so horrendous a time for the world that, we’re told, there has never been a time like it in the past and there will never be a time like it in the future (Daniel 12:1).
Unless God intervened at this time, the earth would become lifeless (Matthew 24:22). Thankfully, God is going to intervene and send His Son Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God (Matthew 24:29-31).
In the battle culminating during the end time, the armies of the world will gather at Armageddon in what is northern Israel today to fight the returning Christ and His saints (Revelation 16:16). Man’s armies will be completely defeated. Christ will conquer the nations and become the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords of a righteous, just and peaceful world government (Revelation 19:19-21).
Peace at last for the Israelis and the Palestinians
At the beginning of the millennial rule of Christ, the earth will be rebuilt. Instruments of war will be turned into instruments of agriculture. Humans will not learn war anymore (Isaiah 2:4). The way of peace will be taught and enforced.
In this new world, even the nature of predatory animals will be changed (Isaiah 11:6-9). What is more important—and the key to peace throughout this new world—the nature of man will begin to be changed, as individuals choose repentance and conversion (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:16).
Once they are converted and given the Holy Spirit, people will no longer be the belligerent beings they were in their former world. This dramatic change will be brought about by their new nature and the lack of Satan’s influence in their lives (Revelation 20:1-3).
God will ensure there will be peace for all of mankind. Children will be able to play in the streets of cities while their grandparents watch them (Zechariah 8:4-5).
The transformations that will occur on this earth will be astonishing. People will become healthier, as the sick are healed, the crippled walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear (Isaiah 35:4-6).
The deserts will bloom, and the land will become so productive that those planting will overtake those harvesting (Amos 9:13).
God, at this time, will restore not only the nation of Judah, but also the other tribes of Israel to the Promised Land (verses 14-15).
Does this mean the Palestinians will be without a homeland? No!
God will provide the Palestinians and all peoples of the world with their own lands flowing with milk and honey. Everyone will sit under his or her fig tree, so to speak, and enjoy the prosperity of this wonderful world tomorrow (Micah 4:4-5).
There will be peace at last, as man, under the rulership of Jesus Christ, progresses toward the time when there will be no more tears, sorrow, pain, crying and death (Revelation 21:4).
Will you be there to see the transition from a world of bigotry and hate to a world of true outgoing concern and peace?
Learn more in our enlightening free booklet The World to Come: What It Will Be Like.