THE MOUNTAINS OF ISRAEL
by Chris Mitchell, Middle East Bureau Chief,
CBN NEWS
The Quartet -- a combination of the U.S., the United Nations, Europe and Russia -- is working on a 'road map' to peace.


CBN.com -- ARIEL, Israel -- Looking ahead in 2003, one of the world's most pressing problems will continue to be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter calls the conflict the greatest threat to world peace.  One of the keys to the conflict is the dispute over the West Bank, the land the Bible calls Judea and Samaria.

Following Israel's national elections in late January and a possible U.S.- led attack against Iraq in early 2003, the world's Middle
East focus will likely turn back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Quartet -- a combination of the U.S., the United Nations, Europe and Russia -- is working on a "road map" to peace.  That road map leads straight through the West Bank -- land Yasser Arafat claims as his own.

"I am Yasser Arafat and this land is my land and the land of my grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grandfathers,"  he said.

Palestinian spokesmen regularly call for a halt to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  And Ariel Sharon's chief opponent for Prime Minister, Labor leader Amram Mitzna, says if elected he will abandon the West Bank. 
"We will unilaterally withdraw from places which we don't want to be there," he said.

Even Sharon, who played a key role in building Jewish settlements in the West Bank, now says a Palestinian state on the land is inevitable.  But what is less well known or recognized is Israel's Biblical claim to the West Bank.

CBN News talked with Billye Brim, a Bible teacher at Elon Moreh, the place where in Genesis Chapter 12, G-D first promised the land to Abraham. 
"Ninety two percent of the Bible place names are in the mountains of Israel in what the Bible calls Judea and Samaria and the world calls the West Bank," she said.

Brim brings many Christian groups to the land of Judea and Samaria.  They visit places like Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant and the glory of G-D resided for nearly 400 years in the Old Testament.  She notes that in modern times, Jews have been returning to Israel for more than 120 years.  She believes the Bible is very clear about where they are supposed to live.

"When G-D called them to come home, He particularly told them in Ezekiel 36 and in Jeremiah 30 and 31 that they were to return to the mountains of Israel and to build cities there," she explained.

Brim quotes the prophet Ezekiel, who wrote,

"But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are
about to come.  For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown.  I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt" 
(Ezekiel 36:8-10).

Brim said,
"So the mountains of Israel, that's where He told them to go.  And I believe that behind it all is the enemy of G-D and the enemy of G-D is trying to stop it from coming to pass.  And what the world calls, for instance, settlements, is what G-D calls cities, and says particularly to come back and inhabit and build, in the mountains."

The town of Ariel rests in the heart of Samaria, and it is often on the front lines in the battle over the mountains of Israel.  For example, the owners of a hotel we visited came face to face, not once, but twice with suicide bombers.

Menachem and Tova Gilboa gave CBN News their first television interview following their experiences with suicide bombers.  We met in their hotel lobby at the scene of the first suicide attack.

Tova said,
"For me, it was like being in hell for a moment and coming back.  Because you can't imagine what is a bomb here."

On March 7, 2002, a suicide bomber came into the Eshol Hasharom Hotel lobby and blew himself up just three meters from Tova.  As seen in a home video the Gilboas showed us, the blast devastated the lobby and surrounding areas.  Miraculously, Tova survived with minor injuries.

Several months later Menachem confronted a suspicious man at the gas station adjacent to the hotel.  He said,
"And then when I push him, I see on the back, the bomb.  And I decide to shoot him or to jump on him."

Menachem wrestled the suicide bomber to the ground and nearly succeeded in neutralizing the danger.  But through a bystander's tragic mistake, the bomb exploded, killed three soldiers and severely injured Menachem.  Yet his heroic efforts saved many lives
that day.  Both are thankful to be alive.

"It's a miracle because it's go again and again me and my husband in the same family and we are survive.  We believe, but it's
also a big miracle,"
Tova said.

Despite the two suicide attacks, the Gilboas, like thousands of Jews who live in Judea and Samaria, say they will remain on the
land because of the Bible's promises.  Their Biblical roots run deep.  And to celebrate those roots, the Gilboas along with their partner Tuvia Gelbard, are building a Biblical theme park.

"It will be one of the most beautiful parks in the world I must say, because it's the only place where you can walk in, see the
models on one side and look around you, see the original Biblical sites,"
Tuvia said.

Gelbard and the Gilboas identify some of those sites in their book, Samaria:  Our Roots, and explain their attachment to the land. 
"I have the Bible.  And in the Bible, you have the borders in the Bible.  The Bible you cannot change," Tuvia said.

Tova said,
"I know one thing -- that we can't go against the Bible.  That I know.  Therefore we have no to give up this land even
if they send bombers, even if all over the world they tell us to give up this area."


Bible believers like the Gilboas seem to be on a collision course with the Palestinians, with most of the world's diplomats, and even with many of their fellow Israelis over the future of the West Bank.  But some believe that the world ignores the Bible's promises for the land at its peril.  Brim calls it a current events test for the nations.

She said,
"So right now there's a big test in all the world going on about who gets the mountains of Israel.  The European Union, the United Nations, the governments of the world are saying it doesn't belong to the Jews. But the Word of G-D says that it does,
so I think that it's a testing ground right now.  Nations should bless Israel by agreeing with the Word of G-D and agreeing with
the prophecies.  So I think right now what is going on is a testing of nations over this place."
The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc.  (c) 2004
http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/Israel
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