Like every American president in recent history, Donald Trump seems confident he can broker the ultimate deal between Israel and the Palestinian people. Problem is, unlike his predecessors, he might actually succeed. The other problem is, he might not. In either case Mr. Trump will be walking a political, military, and spiritual tightrope. The Christian media, it seems, has given the matter surprisingly little attention. So to fuel an important conversation, we will look at a summary of just some of the facts on the ground indicating President Trump could be setting himself—and the US—on a collision course with Israel. Then we’ll look at how to effectively pray.
Summarizing Realities: “Peace, peace when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 16:4)
To be blunt but to the point, if President Trump is to stay the course with Israel he must not ignore three key facts. The first is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians want two separate states for two separate peoples. With Israel the issue is largely a matter of timing. Israel does not want an independent Palestine at this time—mostly because the latter’s disguised, but still official agenda, remains the destruction of the Jewish state. The second obstacle is that both parties know that not one, but two, Palestinian states are involved at this time. For over ten years one semi-autonomous state has functioned (or tried to) in Gaza. Another semi-state exists in Judea and Samaria, aka the West Bank. The two entities are governed by two different, ideologically opposed terror groups, Hamas and Fatah/PLO*. Their leaders have never been able to resolve their impassioned political-religious differences. The third reality is that Palestinian theology justifies lying in order to achieve higher Islamist goals. (More on this later.) Sadly, the American President and his advisory team now appear to be succumbing to some of the same Palestinian distortions of truth that have set other international leaders on collision courses with Israel.
Word on the street is the Palestinians hope Israel will eventually walk away from any peace talks and take the fall internationally. This would enable them to resume their sworn fight against Israel with increased terror and diplomatic initiatives in the form of lawfare. But historically Palestinian leaders have always been the ones to walk. Israelis optimistically expect the past to replay itself again. In the end each hopes to call the other’s bluff. Bear in mind a still greater concern is that the talks will not fail because Netanyahu might face pressures he cannot resist, or misplace his faith in Trump, or both. But all this is just word on the street.
To be fair and accurate, most political leaders in Israel still sincerely hope to see a Palestinian state peaceably co-exist alongside a Jewish state—in the future. Their predecessors have already made painful concessions and relinquished portions of biblical land toward that end. In exchange for those good faith concessions, Israel received a promise of peace. But that promise was never fulfilled. It was and is broken on a daily basis through actual and attempted acts of Palestinian terror. Yet all was according to plan.
The Palestinian’s Phased Plan of 1974 outlines the agenda of the Palestinian people. It has never been revoked and remains fully in effect. The Plan calls for the creation of a semi-autonomous state based on a pretense of peaceable co-existence. Specifically, that quasi-state is to be used as a launching pad to overrun and destroy Israel militarily, politically, demographically, or any combination thereof. The Palestinian Authority (PA) was established in 1993 according to the terms of the Phased Plan.
The Plan, which involves outright deception, incorporates the Islamic doctrine of taqiya. Taqiya justifies lying in order to achieve higher, more critical Islamist goals. The Phased Plan explains why every land concession Israel has ever made to the Palestinians (all of Gaza and portions of Judea/Samaria) has led to more terror instead of peace.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas would negotiate for Palestine under the auspices of President Trump. Elected leader of the terror group Fatah/PLO, Abbas is currently in his 12th year of a 5 year presidential term. The 82 year old rules with an iron fist. He has suspended presidential elections every year since 2010. He has an ongoing and well documented history of regularly inciting terror against Israel, paying lifelong stipends to families of terrorist “martyrs”, suppressing basic civil liberties among his people, padding his own bank accounts while blaming Israel for shortfalls in the PA budget, and more.
Still, Abbas is far less radical than any of his likely successors (Hamas or ISIS) and so Israel is not eager to see him to go. The near-certain prospect of a more extremist group overpowering Abbas is another reason Israel does not want to see an independent Palestinian state established at this time. Such a state would be incapable of withstanding a militant takeover by the likes of Hamas, ISIS or even Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, under a distorted Palestinian narrative of the conflict, much of the world continues to insist the Palestinians are innocent victims oppressed by Israel. Trapped by circumstances, most would prefer to live peaceful, family oriented and productive lives, according to common belief. However, survey after survey of Palestinian public opinion shows much the opposite. Over the past decade, public or private surveys conducted by Israelis, internationals, or Palestinians themselves, repeatedly indicate the majority is not willing to live peaceably and indefinitely alongside a Jewish state. Most Palestinians who say they would accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state would do so only temporarily—as an essential step toward ultimately destroying it. Which brings us back to why peace negotiations mediated by President Trump will, in the end, fail.
But there’s more. Recently Trump met with President Abbas. Since then he has changed his tone toward the Jewish state. He has officially and indefinitely hit the pause button on relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem, admitted to passing classified Israeli intelligence to Russia (which is an act of betrayal and could seriously harm Israel) and announced his intention to seek a settlement freeze in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. This puts his policies back in line with his those of his predecessor, Barack Obama. It could be that Trump has fast been pulled into the Palestinian narrative and, like others before him, prefers the approach of appeasement. But appeasement does not work in this part of the world. (A word of caution is in order at this point. As we watch, we respectfully pray; we are careful not to bear false witness of leaders or events. We know of these matters only in part.)
Despite the above, I would like to be biblically optimistic. As the Gospel breaks the yoke of Islam, and Palestinian Christians abandon their present anti-Israel replacement theologies, realities on the ground will change. At that time, and undergirded by praying Palestinian and Israeli believers, the two peoples could conceivably live side by side in peace. This is the messianic dream for which we are praying and believing. Its time has not yet come — but may not be far off.
In the interim, men and women of another agenda are fast entering the scene as advisors to Trump. In effect, they seek to force a peace when there is none. Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, appears to be one such player. An American billionaire influenced by global agendas, Lauder is a close friend of Trump and major financial donor to his campaign. Previously a friend to Netanyahu, the two had a falling out several years ago. Lauder now regards Abbas as a respectable moderate who genuinely seeks peace. Reportedly, he perceives Netanyahu as inflexible but capable of caving under pressure by Trump. Last week Lauder announced his role as advisor to Trump for brokering Palestinian-Israeli peace. Like most American Jews, Lauder has long supported a two state solution to the conflict. Other influential Jewish American and Israeli leaders connected to more left-leaning, global interests are gaining Trump’s ear.
Where does Netanyahu stand on upcoming peace negotiations? The Prime Minister is distrusting of Abbas, believing he is either unwilling or unable to achieve genuine peace. He rightly puts Israel’s security first. He genuinely esteems the Hebrew Scriptures and is a highly skilled diplomat. It would not be beyond him to strategically sabotage or delay peace talks in a creative, technically fair and honest, perhaps even inspired manner. Netanyahu would prefer, of course, that the Palestinians sabotage those talks first—as they historically have done.
By himself, even the seasoned Netanyahu is unable to withstand strong world pressure, powers and principalities. An important factor in the mix is that he is presently distracted by a state investigation against him, based on charges of political and financial corruption. Very sadly, the charges appear to have some measure of validity. We are praying that God deals with him directly regarding any wrongdoing and that he responds with integrity and wisdom.
How to Pray
I write this article from my office in our home next door to the residence of the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin. I glance at the many preparations actively and visually underway to host President Trump next week on Jerusalem’s Jubilee. The upcoming reality hits quite close to home.
Like other Israeli intercessors, I am deeply concerned about Trump’s visit and negotiations which follow. We sense demonic traps being laid for him, Netanyahu and Rivlin. We are not afraid; instead, we are gearing up for spiritual battle. God has delivered us time and again over thousands of years. But we are alerting you and asking you to join us in prayer. History belongs to the intercessors! Here are some ways you can stand with us as watchmen and women on the wall:
- First, gear up. Re-consecrate yourself to the Lord, clothed in spiritual armor, and empowered and covered by the blood of Yeshua and His angel armies.
2. Enemy forces are setting traps for Netanyahu in any upcoming peace talks with Trump and Abbas. We suggest the following Scriptures be prayed into the matter: Psalm 9:13-15, 35:4-9, 57:6, 119:110, 124:1-8, 140:4-11, 142:1-7; Isaiah 8:10; Proverbs 21:30-31.
3. Pray for grace for both Trump and Netanyahu (and Abbas) to surrender themselves fully to God who appointed them to their posts. Pray they will seek out His Word as the final, authoritative guide in any negotiations. Ask God to give them dreams in the night of heavenly strategies. All three leaders are currently experiencing some chastening in their respective nations. Therefore pray for grace to humble themselves before God, so He might lift them up.
4. President Trump has surrounded himself with an array of advisors pertaining to Israel. Some present credentials that look good, but they consciously or unconsciously speak the plans of the enemy. Pray that ungodly advisors be silenced or removed from their sphere of influence. Ask God to put in place those advisors who will speak according to His will. Pray He surrounds them with favor and amplifies their voices. Ask for continual grace to keep Trump and his team from getting sucked into what has been called the “Palestinian vortex” of deception and distortion.
5. Pray for God to expose schemes of darkness to Netanyahu — and for him to rightly discern them. Such schemes include hostile reactions by America and other nations toward Israel if peace talks break down.
6. Keep your eyes and heart on God’s vision for the Middle East, which even now is gradually becoming reality: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria…The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:23-25) Pray for revival among Israelis and Palestinians.
7. Ask God to awaken and mobilize the intercessory watchmen in America concerning Trump’s engagement with the Jewish state. Pray the President does not fall into any trap designed to cause him, indirectly or inadvertently, to harm Israel. “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” (Genesis 12:3)
*PLO refers to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the terror group founded by Yasser Arafat. Its name was changed to Fatah when the PA was created.