Now Revealed... EUROPEAN BLUEPRINT for MIDEAST PEACE
Keith W Stump
A secret Common Market document leaked to the press earlier this year reveals a controversial European proposal for settling the Arab-Israeli conflict. The stage is being set for a dramatic fulfillment of Bible prophecy!
IN RECENT months, many of Western Europe's top diplomats and foreign policy makers have privately reached an important conclusion. They have declined, for the most part, to express their feelings publicly. But the essence of their thinking is clear: The U.S. — sponsored Camp David Mideast peace process, they have concluded, is dead. Not simply "stalemated," nor "stalled," nor "sidelined" as the Western press often puts it — but dead! In its place, European diplomats are offering a controversial new alternative — "Ieaked" to the press earlier this year and subsequently published. Everything now points to major movement on the European proposals in the months ahead.
Camp David Collapse?
The Camp David agreements were worked out in September, 1978 by former President Carter of the U.S., Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The agreements established a framework for a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement. Most of the Arab world, however, rejected the Camp David peace process and subsequently blacklisted Mr. Sadat for signing a peace treaty with Israel. Camp David brought peace between Israel and Egypt — an enormous accomplishment. But it has failed to resolve the all-important Palestinian issue. The emotional and highly charged Palestinian question has moved to center stage as the key issue in the Arab-Israeli dispute — and possibly the most explosive issue in the world today. The Palestinians are those Arabs who are native to the territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 and to much of the land that is now the State of Israel. About 1.2 million Palestinian Arabs today live in the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip. The Camp David accords called for Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But just what "autonomy" means is disputed by the parties involved. The Palestinian Arabs seek to set up their own full-fledged sovereign Palestinian nation in those areas, free of Israeli control and supervision. Israel, on the other hand, rejects the idea of independent Palestinian statehood and demands ultimate sovereignty over the occupied territories. Israel offers the Palestinians only "a measure of self-rule," meaning local control over their own day-to-day affairs. Israel feels that any independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories would become a dire threat to her security — possibly being used as a base for terrorist attacks against Israel. Palestinial1s counter that Israeli proposals for limited self-rule would simply, legitimize the "illegal" Israeli occupation. Camp David is presently bogged down over just how much autonomy the Palestinians should enjoy. This has become the main obstacle to the overall peace agreement envisioned in the 1978 accords. Observers generally feel that the Camp David stalemate is not likely to be broken until after Israel holds its national elections June 30. More pessimistic observers feel that a total collapse of the Camp David process is a very real probability.
With many Europeans viewing Camp David as going nowhere, it is not surprising to discover that Europe has been hard at work on a possible alternative. A European Mideast initiative was launched at a European Community summit meeting in Venice in June, 1980. In a joint policy statement on the Middle East, the Community (also known as the Common Market or EEC) called for mutual recognition of Israel's right to a secure existence and of Palestinian rights to self-determination. The statement also urged that the controversial Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) "be associated" with any talks. "Growing tensions affecting this region constitute a serious danger," declared Common Market leaders in Venice, "and render a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict more necessary and pressing than ever." Six months passed. On December 2, 1980, the heads of the nine Common Market nations approved in Luxembourg a document — classified SECRET — detailing European options in the Middle East. The paper was leaked to the press soon afterward. The European Community document is officially termed a "discussion document," meaning that it is subject to possible change. But insiders say that the ideas contained in it will undoubtedly form the basis for a future Community policy. The document enumerates four major points in the European Mideast initiative: • Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories to pre-1967 positions • Self-determination for the Palestinians, to be decided in a referendum among the world's four million Palestinian Arabs • A guarantee for the security of all states in the region • A special status for Jerusalem. The secret document brands as "illegal under international law" all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and favors their dismantlement. The international law being referred, to is the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that "the occupying power shall not... transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Israel has 85 such civilian settlements on the West Bank, 30 in the Golan Heights region and six in the Gaza Strip. Their combined population is about 20,000. These settlements are bitterly resented by the native Arab inhabitants of those areas. The Reagan Administration recently criticized Israel's continued expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank as "unhelpful to the peace process and ill-advised." The European document also suggests a series of demilitarized zones on both sides of Israel's various borders — policed by the United Nations — and limits on armaments and troops in other zones. Regarding the proposed Palestine referendum, the document recommends that Palestinian Arabs be given a choice between complete independence, federation with Jordan, federation with Israel or federation with Israel and Jordan. On the future status of Jerusalem, the Community leaders propose that the Old City be accorded international status, with the holy sites administered by religious authorities.
Sadat Plays His "European Card"
At about the same time that the "secret" European document was leaked to the press, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat arrived in Europe on an important diplomatic mission. Mr. Sadat's first stop was the European Parliament in Luxembourg where he was welcomed by Speaker Simone Veil as "a pilgrim of peace." On February 10, the Egyptian President delivered a one-hour speech before the Parliament — the elected representatives of the Common Market nations. He was the first head of state from a nonmember nation to address the Parliament. The gist of his message? A call for more European involvement in the Middle East! Some diplomatic analysts suggested that in view of the departure from office of President Carter, the advent of a Reagan Administration seemingly more closely allied to Israel's point of view, plus the possibility of a new Israeli government with its own new ideas, Mr. Sadat felt compelled at this time to "play his European card" — that is, to take his case to Europe. In his address before the European Parliament, however, President Sadat was careful not to write off Camp David. "I have not come here to sell out Camp David," he told the assembly. Instead, Mr. Sadat said that the Camp David peace process is a framework from which Europe in its own Mideast initiative could take steps that might lead to the breaking of the current impasse. The Egyptian President expressed hope that the European initiative launched last June in Vienna would not compete with Camp David, but rather be a strategy compatible with the basic principles set out in the Camp David accords. He said the United States should continue in a full role. Mr. Sadat emphasized that any European effort should supplement rather than supplant the Camp David process. "I came to say to the Europeans: Let us try to combine our efforts toward giving momentum to the peace process," he stated. Throughout his address, Mr. Sadat repeatedly encouraged the Europeans to bring fresh new ideas to the slow-moving Camp David process. He called on the EEC to help persuade both Israel and the Palestinians "to accept a formula of mutual and simultaneous recognition." On the subject of the Palestinians, the Egyptian leader told the Parliament: "Egypt urges you to support their right to self-determination and national dignity. This is their God-given right that cannot be denied under any circumstances." He stated that a Palestinian entity "poses no threat to the security of Israel. In fact, it is the best guarantee for it." President Sadat noted that "the establishment of a Palestinian entity, after a transitional period, would be a positive development to all countries in the region." He said that the Palestinian entity would be too preoccupied "with the task of reconstruction and building bridges with other nations" to be any threat to Israel.
The Egyptian President also said that Europe might make contributions to guarantee any settlement that might be reached. Specifically, he called for West-European participation in a peacekeeping force in the region. "The Europeans could provide a standing force under the auspices of the United Nations to make every party secure, both Arabs and Israelis," he suggested. Europeans themselves have discussed the possibility of dispatching peacekeeping troops to the Middle East. Now they have an invitation. Regarding Jerusalem, Mr. Sadat noted that the bitter controversy that has erupted over the Holy City has proved the fallacy of exclusive control. Israel claims all of Jerusalem — including the Arab sector — as its "eternal capital." Mr. Sadat declared that Jerusalem must be kept open to all faithful, regardless of creed or nationality. "I hereby urge you to join us in a determined effort to achieve such a goal," he told the Parliament. Arab states — including Egypt — do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. A 37-nation Islamic summit in Saudi Arabia last January called for a jihad or "holy war" against Israel to regain Arab sovereignty over Jerusalem.
President Sadat's message was well received by the European Parliament, which gave him a standing ovation. His image as a responsible international statesman was considerably bolstered. According to one European diplomat: "It was a signal to [U.S. President] Reagan that when he meets Sadat this spring he won't be talking to a mere protege of past American presidents but to a major world leader in his own right. " Major movement on the European initiative is expected beginning in July, when three important elements converge. On June 30, Israel's national elections will be held to determine the fate of Prime Minister Begin's government. A change of government could lead to a modification of Israel's negotiating stance, but it is too early to tell precisely what new ideas might be brought to the fore. The following day, on July I, Britain's influential Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington — the main architect of the European initiative — takes over the presidency of the EEC Council of Ministers. He is expected to be chairman of the next round of talks between the EEC foreign ministers and the Arab League. British sources say that Lord Carrington also plans a formal meeting with PLO leader Yassir Arafat in the Mideast this year. Finally, Washington sources expect that by mid-year the Reagan Administration will have decided on the details of its Mideast policy. President Reagan has yet to show how he will approach the unfinished business of Camp David.
Following his address in Luxembourg, President Sadat was given a red carpet reception in Paris. There he had two days of talks with French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who has long been cool toward Camp David. President Sadat's visits to Luxembourg and France form only a part of the picture of growing European-Mideast contacts. Not only has " Mohammed" gone to the "mountain," the mountain has also come to Mohammed! European politicians and diplomats have been traveling to the Middle East in increasing numbers. Since the start of the year, dozens of officials from Common Market countries and neighboring nations have been shuttling around the region on fact-finding missions. Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky traveled to Cairo for four days of talks with Mr. Sadat soon after the Egyptian President returned from his European diplomatic blitz. Chancellor Kreisky — the first Western head of state to meet openly with PLO chairman Yassir Arafat — visited Egypt as part of a Mideast fact-finding trip for the Socialist International. Mr. Kreisky, who continues to push for PLO participation in the Egyptian-Israeli talks, agreed with Mr. Sadat that Palestinian autonomy negotiations should be held off until a new Israeli government is formed after the June 30 elections. Mr. Kreisky also supported the prospect of a more active role for Western Europe in promoting Mideast peace. Soon after the Kreisky meeting, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher called on President Sadat in Cairo. Mr. Genscher urged that "all parties involved in the Middle East conflict recognize each other as negotiating partners." In meeting with other Egyptian leaders, Mr. Genscher restated Bonn's and the European Community's position that a lasting Mideast peace settlement "must provide for self-determination by the Palestinian people and the right of all states in the region, including Israel, to exist within secure boundaries." Other important visitors to the Middle East in the past six months included Dutch Foreign Minister and EEC President Christoph van der Klaauw and former British — Prime Minister Edward Heath. Mr. Heath, in a meeting with President Sadat, advocated European participation in efforts to settle the 33-year-old Arab-Israeli conflict in order to halt a growing Soviet presence in the area and to achieve greater security of oil supplies to the West.
PLO, Israeli Reactions
Meanwhile, the two parties most directly involved — Israel and the Palestinians — have been busily studying the European proposals. Israel's leaders have given the EEC initiative a cool reception. The view from the Knesset is that a European role would almost certainly undermine the Camp David peace process. Israeli Labor Leader Shimon Peres has been quoted as saying that the European initiative "is widening the gap between us and the Arabs, not bridging it." Prime Minister Begin has called the Middle East policy of the European nations "absolutely negative. " The Palestine Liberation Organization, on the other hand, welcomes the prospect of an independent European stand on the Middle East. It objects, however, to the EEC proposal for a referendum among Palestinians worldwide, feeling that such a referendum would undermine the PLO's claim to be the sole representative of the Palestinian people. PLO officials also oppose proposals that would demilitarize or partially demilitarize the future Palestinian zone.
Many observers of the Mideast scene have noted that the European proposals are seemingly far removed from anything an Israeli government could conceivably accept. One journalist has termed the EEC plan "an obvious nonstarter." That assessment may be premature. Given the proper security guarantees, it is possible that an Israeli Labor government might prove to be somewhat more conciliatory than expected. At the moment, however, the picture does not look promising. Consequently, there have been charges from many quarters that Europeans are simply attempting to ingratiate themselves with Arab nations for economic reasons — that the European proposals are simply an elaborate charade. a pretense to keep the Arabs happy. Israelis especially feel that Europe is giving way to the Arabs in order to placate Arab oil producers. The implication is that Europe is not really serious about its proposals, but is simply putting them forward for propaganda purposes. Israeli officials have especially ridiculed the idea that European troops could effectively guarantee a Mideast settlement. "Would the European Community really defend Israel against a member of OPEC?" they ask. Undeniably, Europe is economically vulnerable. France, as one example, relies on the Persian Gulf region for 80 percent of its oil needs. Renewed Arab-Israeli fighting would almost certainly disrupt oil supplies. A cutoff of Mideast oil would be utterly disastrous to Europe! Europe certainly cannot be faulted for seeking to achieve greater security of oil supplies by working for greater stability in the Middle East. But the Middle East's instability is a result of many factors, not just the Arab-Israeli confrontation. Conflicts are rife throughout the Arab world between leftists and rightists, rich and poor, Moslem orthodox and Moslem liberals, national majorities and national minorities, civilian officials and army officers. Potential flash points for Mideast war are innumerable! At present, the continuing war between Iraq and Iran poses a significantly greater threat to the flow of oil than the controversy over Palestine. Critics of the European Mideast initiative have thus faulted it as being too narrow in scope and shortsighted in perspective. Some have also suggested that envy and resentment toward the United States may have played a part in the launching of the European initiative last year. Washington has long stood in the lime-light as the chief mediator between Arab and Israeli. Europe has largely stood on the sidelines. The West German newspaper Frankfurter Neue Presse has noted that in urging Europe to play a larger role in the Middle East, President Sadat "was on well-prepared ground, for recently among the European allies, too, there is felt a pressing need to take on a stronger foreign policy profile."
What Lies Ahead
A European bid for greater influence in the Middle East should come as no surprise to students of Bible prophecy. The Middle East in general and Jerusalem in particular is the FOCAL POINT of all Bible prophecy. Through prophecy we can know what is to take place in the critical Mideast region! Prophecy tells us that despite the efforts of men of peace and goodwill both within the Middle East and in concerned nations outside, forces beyond the ability of responsible statesmen to control will ultimately propel the region into a supreme crisis! Jesus Christ reveals that Jerusalem will, yet in the future, be "encompassed with armies" and "trodden down of the gentiles" (Luke 21:20, 24). The prophet Zechariah shows that all nations will be gathered against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken (14:1-2). How will these events come about? Bible prophecy foretells a final rebirth of the ancient Roman Empire in Europe — a confederation of 10 nations or groups of nations to be headed by a super-dictator called the "Beast" (Revelation 17). The prophet Daniel reveals that at "the time of the end" this revived Roman Empire will become involved militarily in the Middle East — to the detriment of both Arab and Israeli! Daniel calls the restored Roman Empire "the king of the north" (Daniel 11:40). It is likely that future Arab pressure on Europe to force Israel to come to terms would involve a curtailing of vital oil shipments. The result would be head-on collision between Europe and the Middle East. Europe would see little alternative but to militarily insure the continued flow of crucial oil across its borders. Ultimately, the Middle East will. become the focus of an all-out struggle by various world powers for world supremacy. Only the intervention of the Hand of God in world affairs will prevent the total annihilation of all mankind!
Peace is coming between Israel and her neighbors. The Middle East is destined to become a stable and prosperous region, free of strife and threats of war! But first the peoples of that war-torn region will suffer a period of unparalleled chaos and tribulation, a time of trouble "such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21). Lasting peace will come to the Middle East — and to the world as a whole — only with the return of Jesus Christ as Messiah to rule the earth! For a detailed look at that utopian future, read our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow - What It Will Be Like.