Again, a conflict has arisen in Israel – this time in regard to the government’s order to freeze construction in the so-called Jewish “settlements” of Judea and Samaria. The conflict boils down to: Should Israel obey God or man?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bowed to heavy international pressure recently by reversing his position on such construction. He had stood against this pressure since taking office, but suddenly ordered a 10-month freeze.



However, it should be noted that the freeze is both temporary and incomplete. It is to be in effect for only 10 months, and does not include 3,000 housing units already under construction. Nor does it include East Jerusalem.


Israeli soldiers have been instructed to enforce the freeze. However, many are defying those orders. Numerous settler leaders are also refusing to cooperate, and many rabbis are publicly opposing the government’s new policy – which was not part of the platform that got Netanyahu elected.

The rabbis have stressed the God-given right of the Jews to the Land. The biblical mandate clearly designates all the territory west of the Jordan River as the home of the Jewish people forever. Prophets called it “an everlasting covenant.” The rabbis claim that the covenant is still in effect following God’s miraculous re-gathering of the Jews and the restoration of their ancient nation.

Some defiant soldiers have already been arrested, amid strong protests from settlers and rabbis. One settler, who is also a reserve soldier, declared: “We believe God’s authority supersedes that of the army or that of the government.” He added: “We have two alternatives. Do we obey God or do we obey man?”

We Christians certainly support the position and actions of those who feel the authority of God is higher than that of any government. Our Bible instructs us to obey our governments except when their orders are in opposition to the principles and values of God. The defiant rabbis, settlers and soldiers all claim that this is the case with the freeze.

The settlers are completely serious about their opposition. Israeli media report that more than 10,000 of them gathered outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem to let him know their feelings.

Some settlers fear that the freeze will not end in 10 months but will be extended because international pressure will not abate. They fear that Netanyahu will have to continue to mollify the Obama Administration in order to maintain US support.

Supposedly, the US is applying pressure in order to draw the Palestinians into new peace talks. However, the Palestinians have declared that they will not resume talks until all settlement construction is halted. Everyone should know that this is just another excuse for Palestinian intransigence.

We believe that Netanyahu, with his freeze order, knows what he is doing and is acting strategically. He should know that the Palestinians will never end their belligerence toward the Jewish nation, that they will never negotiate in good faith, and that they will never meet the conditions they must meet in order to merit statehood.

So the 10-month freeze is probably just a strategic waiting period before resuming the status quo. Netanyahu obviously wants the world to see that Israel is taking yet another step toward peace; when the Palestinians again refuse to reciprocate, the world will have to blame the Palestinians, not Israel.

It is understandable that Netanyahu feels he must make some effort to ameliorate the conflict. But doesn’t he know by now that it is useless? After everything the Palestinians have done, and not done, since the so-called “peace process” began in 1993, who can be so naive as to believe they can be trusted now?

It may turn out that Netanyahu’s temporary construction freeze is not so much in opposition to God’s “eternal possession” covenant as it seems. It may turn out that Israel will, after all, obey God rather than man.

*This article appeared in the April issue of the Jerusalem Post's Christian Edition, to subscribe click here.
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