Why not go back to Israel’s 63BC lines?
It never ceases to amaze His Grace: for every post he writes on just about any matter, there is usually reasoned consensus or intelligent criticism from diverse individuals who appreciate intelligent and erudite comment on matters religio-political. Yet when he writes about Israel, he receives insults and hate-mail (“Zionist Nazi”); his faith is called into doubt (“No Christian would...”); and otherwise silent communicants become rather assertive and dogmatic about the Lord’s perspective (“Jesus would never...”).
Last week, the President of the United States was clear in his view. He said: "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states." By ‘1967 lines’ he meant ‘pre-1967’, ie, Israel’s security is dependent on returning to the situation before the Six-Day War and reverting essentially to Israel’s 1949 armistice lines.
This has been soundly rejected by Benyamin Netanyahu: “While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines because these lines are indefensible,” he said.
But don’t just blame intransigent and hard-hearted Jews: Hamas have also responded on behalf of the Palestinians, declaring: “The US administration will fail, just as all others have in the past, in forcing Hamas to recognise the occupation.” Their spokesman observed that President Obama's speech showed that the US was ‘not a friend to the people of the region’ (ie Palestinians).
The President’s plan for a peace based on Israel’s 1967 lines is already in tatters. So His Grace has a better proposal: Why not revert to the pre-63 BC lines? This was the year the Romans invaded Israel and Judah and divided the land into regional jurisdictions (Galilee, Judaea etc). Understandably, the inhabitants of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were not overly happy having to live under alien occupation, subjugated to Roman rule. Tensions began to rise which led to the ‘Great Revolt’ of AD 67 when the Jews decided to take on the might of Rome. In AD 70, Jerusalem was invaded and the Romans destroyed the Temple (has Berlusconi ever apologised for this atrocity?). Things reached breaking point in AD 132, when Jews were ethnically cleansed from the region and the Romans officially renamed the whole land ‘Palaestina’ (purposely and provocatively as an insult to the Jews; the Philistines being Israel’s most dangerous enemy prior to unification).
Readers and communicants will see from the above map (click for clearer view) that the tribes of Simeon and Judah actually predated the establishment of ‘Palestine’: the Jew was in Judaea long before the invention of the race now known as ‘Palestinians’. After Roman rule, whenever Jews attempted to reclaim their homeland their communities were destroyed and they were exiled. The pogrom continued under the Byzantines, Crusaders, Ottoman Turks, British, and the modern Egyptians. In all the heated talk of ‘occupation’ and ‘illegal Jewish settlements’ , you rarely hear about the indigenous Jewish populations of Gaza and the West Bank: all sympathies are with Hamas and Fatah, both of whom are pathologically programmed (if not constitutionally pledged and theologically dedicated) to finishing what was begun millennia ago: the extermination of the Jews and the eradication of the State of Israel.
The history of this region is fiendishly complex and solutions to seemingly intractable problems will not be found in crass geopolitical policy objectives which only take account of the most recent shifts in territorial lines. Israel is an historic nation: Palestine is a relatively recent invention. Only a sophist politician, ignorant of the history, steeped in moral relativism and with an eye on re-election, could reduce the existential threat faced by Israel to a trivial game of Risk.