I think most of us can agree that peace is a good thing.
Yes, many support either Israel or Palestine as if they were soccer teams, but regardless of your political and eschatological views, you’re probably with me if I say that it would be good with less death and destruction in the Middle East.
The fact that many children have died in the conflict is a problem. A devastating, serious problem that needs to be solved.
And yes, Israel-supporters will blame most of the deaths on the Palestinians and Palestine-supporters will blame most of the deaths on Israel. I know.
But regardless of blame, guilt and revenge-lust, we have a problem in the Holy Land. And the solution is peace.
Conflict is usually based on the incompatibility of goals; when two or more parties want the same thing. In order to resolve it, we need compromises, trade-offs, and sacrifices.
This is how all peace negotiations work. The parties meet halfway, nobody gets exactly what they wanted but in exchange for the costs, they receive a more peaceful and stable environment.
In order for this to happen, all parties need to be involved in negotiations. Now, it’s common that the conflicting parties claim that the opposing party “can’t be negotiated with”, but still all conflicts end in negotiations.
Always. That’s how they’re resolved.
Donald Trump has now unveiled his “ultimate deal” to solve the conflict in the Middle East. It includes giving full control of Israeli settlements as well as all of Jerusalem to the state of Israel in exchange for American aid to a future Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the deal as “a great plan for Israel, it’s a great plan for peace”.
Palestinian leaders were not involved in negotiations that led to the plan. Unsurprisingly, they rejected it almost instantly. And without their approval, there is no peace deal.
It was dead as soon as it saw the light of day.
Aaron David Miller, a peace negotiator for several US administrations, told the Guardian:
“This plan is completely untethered from any desire to create an environment for negotiation, narrow the gaps between the parties, condition each party to accept certain realities that might, in fact, produce a negotiation.”
Now, some will then say that it’s the Palestinians’ fault that no peace deal was reached. Here, Trump and Netanyahu work hard to bring something to the table, and the Palestinians immediately say no.
But a peace deal must involve both conflicting parties in the preparation phase. Otherwise, it’s just a wish list.
When Paul calls Christians to live in peace, he says: “If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” (Rom 12:18). He recognizes that peace requires multiple parties – we can do our part individually aiming for peace, but we start to live in peace only when others choose to live peacefully with us.
I find it extremely incredible that Trump and his administration wouldn’t realize that this would be the outcome. Sadly, I think there’s truth to the suspicion that Trump and Netanyahu do this not as a serious peace effort, but as a distraction from the scandals that surround them nationally: Trump with his impeachment trial and Netanyahu with his corruption allegations.
But this is not the end. Peace is always possible, even when it comes to bitter enemies. Just look at Germany and France, or Sweden and Denmark. Personally, I’m a believer in a one-state solution for the Holy Land. Regardless of the details of future solutions, it must involve all parties.
As we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, both Israelis and Palestinians need to be responsible and benefactors of that peace. None of them can be left out.
Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author, and editor for PCPJ.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!