Did Israel Steal the Palestinians’ Land?
By Dr. David R. Reagan
Do the Jewish people have any right to the land of Israel? Did they steal that land from the Palestinians? Did they create the modern day state of Israel in violation of international law? Is there any hope for real peace in the Middle East between the Jews and the Arabs? And what does the Bible have to say about these questions?
The focus of world politics today is the nation of Israel in the Middle East. And that focus is one of many signs that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return, because all of end time Bible prophecy focuses on Israel, just like today’s newspaper headlines.
The world condemns Israel for stealing the land of the Palestinians. But, is that true? I can tell you without hesitation that it is not true.
The Bible says that God has given the Jewish people an eternal title to that land. The Bible also says that in the end times God will regather the Jewish people to that land and re-establish their state.
So, the bottom line is that the presence of the state of Israel in the Middle East today is in accordance with God’s will.
The Land Title Covenant
The controlling passage for everything I have to share is found in Genesis 12 beginning with verse 1. It reads as follows, “The LORD,” (and in your Bibles whenever that is capitalized it always means Yahweh, the name of God) “Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country to the land which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation and will bless you, and make your name great. And to your descendants I will give this land.'” The land is Canaan.
This promise was reconfirmed to Abraham six more times. In Genesis 17:7, God declared the promise of the land to be an everlasting covenant, not a temporary one — everlasting! The promise was reconfirmed to Isaac and to Jacob. It was reconfirmed through King David in Psalm 105, which reads as follows:
“Oh, give thanks to Yahweh, for He has remembered His covenant forever. The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. And then He confirmed it to Jacob, and to Israel as an everlasting covenant. Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance.'”
The Land Use Covenant
There were actually two covenants related to the land of Israel. The first one, the one we just discussed, is the Land Title Covenant. This was given through Abraham and it was an unconditional covenant. God’s saying, “I’m giving you the land with no conditions attached. It’s yours. It’s yours forever!”
The second was the Land Use Covenant. This was given by God through Moses right before the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Just before they entered the land, God spoke through Moses.
In Deuteronomy 28-30, God gives the Land Use Covenant. This is a covenant in which God makes it very clear to Israel that when they go into the land they are to abide by certain rules. One of the most important rules being not to intermarry with the women of the land, because He said that would lead to idolatry.
There were many rules and regulations God gave the Israelites. He told them that the enjoyment of the land would depend upon their faithfulness to God. If they were faithful, He would give them blessings. If they were unfaithful, He would put curses upon them.
There is a whole chapter concerning the different kinds of curses. Curses included bad weather, losses in wars, domination by foreign governments, rebellion by teenagers, divorce epidemics, crop failures, cattle dying, and on and on. All sorts of curses God would put upon the Israelites if they were unfaithful to Him.
Then Moses warned his people that if they refused to repent, if they continued to sin against God, that it would ultimately lead to the greatest curse of all. Deuteronomy 28:64 reveals the greatest curse would be:
“Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth. And there you will serve other gods. And among those nations you shall find no rest, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there Yahweh will give you a trembling heart and failing of eyes, and despair of soul.”
What would be the ultimate curse? The Jewish dispersion to the four corners of the earth.
So, the crucial point to keep in mind is this: the gift of the land was irrevocable and unconditional. The Jewish people were given an eternal title, but their use and enjoyment of the land was conditional. It depended upon their obedience to God.
Let me illustrate it this way. Let’s suppose that you buy a car for your teenage son. You put the car in his name, and it belongs to him. But, you sit down with him and you say, “As long as you live in my house you are going to live under my rules and regulations. The car is yours, but here are the rules. There’s going to be no spinning of the tires, no racing, and no speeding.” So, you go through all the rules, and then you say to him, “If you violate those rules, depending upon the severity of the violation, I am going to take away your car and I am going to lock it up in the garage and you are not going to be able to drive it for a week, or two weeks, or for a month.” The car is his. It belongs to him. But, his use of it depends upon his obedience to his father’s commands, which he can lose the use of it for a period of time.
That is the situation with the children of Israel when it comes to owning their land. They were given an eternal title to the land, but their possession of the land was conditional upon their obedience to God.
The Israelites dwelled in the land for 750 years, with 400 years under the Judges and another 350 years under the kings. During that time, the Israelites were constantly falling into idolatry. They began to intermarry with the Canaanite women. They began to violate all the rules of God.
In response to their rebellion, God placed remedial judgment after remedial judgment after remedial judgment on the Israelites, but they would not repent. And so, the time came when God began to raise up prophetic voices like Elijah who called them to repentance. Yet again they refused to repent, until finally the time came when God decided that He had to eject the Israelites from the land. The northern nation of Israel was ejected from the land by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The Babylonians captured Judah 136 years later in 586 BC.
By God’s grace and mercy, He allowed the Jews to return to the Promised Land after 70 years in Babylonian captivity. They rebuilt their temple in Jerusalem. But still, Israel continued in their rebellion against God. They continued to reject God. And when they finally rejected the Messiah — the Lord Jesus Christ — God allowed the Romans to come in, conquer the city of Jerusalem, burn the Temple, and begin to exile the Jewish people all over the world.
The Jews were exiled to the four corners of the earth so that by the beginning of the 20th Century there were Australian Jews, there were African Jews, and there were Latin American Jews. There were Jews dwelling in every country of the world, just as God said He would do if they persisted in their rebellion.
Again, the crucial point to keep in mind is that the Jews were dispersed from their land in discipline, but they were not disposed of their land. It was still their land. The Jews still hold the title to that land. That stands as a crucially important fact to keep in mind. The title to the Holy Land remains in the name of Israel, and it remains in their name to this very day.
The Real Palestinian State
Regarding the so-called Palestinians, it is very interesting that from 70 AD until 1948 AD, the year when Israel was re-established, Jerusalem had never been the capital of any Arab state. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state, only of the Jewish state.
Also, there has never been a Palestinian state. Anti-semetics will tell people that all the problems in the Middle East are tied to the day that the Jews returned and “ran all the Palestinians out and took over their homes.” What a lie! There has never been a Palestinian state. The Arabs who lived in the Levant considered themselves to be Syrians.
Historically proven, there never has been any Palestinian identity. There has never been a Palestinian culture. There was never any Palestinian language. It just simply doesn’t exist! The idea of a Palestinian state, a people who were illegally displaced by the Jews, is pure propaganda developed by the Arabs after the Six Day War in 1967.
It is very important to keep in mind that the Palestinians already have a state and it is called Jordan. Some 75% of all the people who live in Jordan consider themselves Palestinians. So, when the Palestinians cry out to the world that they need a state, the truth is, they already legally have a state, and it’s called Jordan.