But what the law also ordered was the removal of settlements in the northern West Bank, which also was brought into force in 2005, but was hardly heard of due to being overshadowed by the much larger disengagement of Gaza.
However, this year Israel’s new government has amended the Disengagement Law so that Israelis are no longer prevented from going to and settling these areas in the northern West Bank, while making no change to the law in respect to disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
Now, when we consider Bible Prophecy concerning the land of Israel, it is clear that the future for the West Bank has always been very different from that of the Gaza strip.
Through Ezekiel, we are repeatedly told that it would be God’s people, Israel, dwelling on the mountains of Israel at the end times, not a Palestinian State, nor a hostile people to Israel, for they will be dwelling safely, without walls bars or gates (Ezekiel 38:11). In Ezekiel 38:8 Gog comes against God’s people who are dwelling upon “the mountains of Israel” and “they shall dwell safely all of them”. The mountains of Israel refer to the spine of mountains that go from north to south in Israel, much of what is known as the West Bank today.
However, the prophecies regarding the area of the Gaza strip is very different, particularly when we look at the Armageddon prophecy as written in Joel 3.
For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.
Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;
The original Hebrew word for “recompence” has the idea of “paying back for something”, and so what we find is that in the area of Tyre and Zidon, and the coasts of Palestine, there will be a group of people who at the time of Christ’s return will be looking to pay back for something, who feel they have been treated unjustly, and God will be ready to turn that payback on their own head.
Now Tyre and Zidon has been part of Lebanon since the time of Israel’s birth, and Hezbollah are a terrorist group that are stationed there and have much influence in the Lebanese government, while the coast of Palestine, or the Gaza Strip, is an area that less than 20 years ago was a territory controlled by Israel, in a similar way to how the West Bank is today.
And so we see that the future for the Gaza Strip is very different to that of the West Bank, because we should expect to see the Gaza Strip inhabited by people who do not love Israel, who feel they have been mistreated, which is exactly what we see today. The West Bank, on the other hand, is very different, we expect to see it become more Israeli and less Palestinian – until it becomes as described in Ezekiel 38, a place inhabited by God’s people, who have been gathered from many nations.
And so what we see in the news this week is the Israeli Defence Minister signing the order to repeal the ban on Jews returning to the northern West Bank, which is another step of many, taking the West Bank and Gaza Strip in different directions.
In 1967 Israel took the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War. The legal status held by both of these territories was identical, those living in these areas were under the same legal framework. Both these areas were soon settled by Israelis. In 1993 the Oslo Accords were signed, intending on again treating these areas the same, some parts were given to the same Palestinian Authority, while some remained in Israeli control, and settlements remained in both regions. It wasn’t until 2005 that we saw the first signs of a the different future that these places held, when the Disengagement Law removed all settlements in the Gaza Strip, while settlements in the West Bank continued to flourish. Then, within the next couple of years during the Palestinian Civil War, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, while Fatah remained in control of Palestinian areas in the West Bank. Since Israel’s disengagement of Gaza in 2005, there has been no Israeli settlements in Gaza, meanwhile Israel’s West Bank settler population has doubled from 250,000 to now over half a million. Israel’s new government is further removing restrictions on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and so the population is likely to grow at an even larger rate than before.
And so we see this divergence of these two areas continuing, both going towards what we see in that prophetical snapshot, of the prophecies of the Lord’s return.
Join us again next week for another episode of Bible in the News.
This has been Paul Barnes joining you.