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Update from Jerusalem: President Bush heading to Israel for his Jan. 9-11 visit - Bill Koenig

President George W. Bush will arrive in Jerusalem tomorrow, Wednesday, around noon Israel time, for his Jan. 9-11 visit.

President Bush has added visits to Bethlehem on Thursday, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and a visit to Capernaum the place where Jesus Christ delivered the "Sermon on the Mount", beginning with the Beatitudes on Friday morning. He will very likely use these visits for symbolic "peace" purposes.

He will stay in the Royal Suite in the King David Hotel that overlooks the Old City and the Temple Mount.

The White House press corp has arrived in Jerusalem and we our awaiting President Bush's arrival.

Thanks to those who are supporting this trip financially. Thank you for the prayers.

President Bush stated in a recent White House briefing:

I'm looking forward to going to the Middle East. I've got a couple of objectives. One is to advance the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Secondly is to continue to work with our Arab friends on reconciliation with Israel. And, finally, is to assure people in the Middle East that we understand — or we'll show a strong commitment to the security of the region, and a commitment to the security of our friends.

Israel is very committed to a Palestinian state

In a recent briefing that I attended with an Israeli official, he confirmed Israel's commitment to a Palestinian state and the removal of some Palestinian neighborhoods from Jerusalem. He told us the following:

  • Israelis don't want to be a minority in their own country, despite the claims there isn't a demographic problem.
  • There are parts of East Jerusalem that are 100 percent Palestinian. Many of their residents don't pay their property taxes or their total bill. Israel would like to not have to be responsible for those neighborhoods.
  • Israel doesn't want Palestinian refugees living in Israel but, rather, in a Palestinian state.
  • Israel is tired of the burden of having to take care of the Palestinians; let them manage themselves.
  • Israelis are aware of the biblical significance of the land, but they prefer a practical solution to present-day problems.
  • Israel will continue to respond to Hamas and Islamic Jihad's terror and rocket attacks to lessen the danger of having to deal with them in the future.

In other words, the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is totally committed to a Palestinian state and making concessions for their perceived benefits. The person who briefed us said the practical solution was more important than a biblical position on the land.

To keep his parliamentary coalition together, Olmert has included Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the negotiating team. The Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu parties, with their 23 Knesset members, are staying in Olmert's government as long as it doesn't attempt to divide Jerusalem.

Analysis — key points

The White House wants Olmert to evacuate unauthorized settlements; but Olmert has been reluctant to force Israelis from their homes, which could affect his thin majority in the Knesset and collapse his government. However, Olmert is now rumored to be willing to commit to that during President Bush's visit to Jerusalem.

The moderate Middle Eastern countries want Bush to push for a freeze on existing settlement construction. Therefore, Bush is expected to press for that when he is here.

In the last few days, Olmert also stated he is willing to divide Jerusalem.

There has never been an Israeli prime minister more willing to cooperate with the U.S. and the international community's position on the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel than Olmert.

White House summary

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is key to U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East.

Rice has said numerous times in the last 14 months that there would be no greater legacy for the Bush Administration than a Palestinian state.

President Bush believes history will treat him well for bringing peace and moderation to the Middle East, so his efforts in the final 12 months in office are important to his and Rice's legacy. They believe the most important part is an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.


Despite an apparent desire to see peace in Israel, personal and selfish interests are driving the actions of Bush, Rice, Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The vehicle is the covenant land of Israel: Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights that surround the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum, and parts of Jerusalem. Yes, biblical lands.

Olmert is using the peace efforts to stay in office. Rice sees it as the key vehicle for lasting Bush-and-personal legacies. And Bush sees it as a vehicle for his place in history and U.S. strategic interests. It will also impact Peres' legacy, as no Israeli leader has had a more major role.

The Israeli government is tired of managing the Palestinians, whether in Jerusalem or other parts of Israel. They want to be separated from them for good.

The Israeli people, who have "terror fatigue," want to be left alone and given the opportunity to thrive as a nation. They truly do want peace, but also believe it will cost them some land.

In reality, there is no solution; but the Bible says in Daniel 9:27 that one day a man will come forward with a solution and a peace deal. For now, only the God of Israel knows who and when that will be. Meanwhile, we will continue to watch and pray for the peace of Jerusalem with much excitement and expectation.

There is a practical solution, and there is a biblical solution. Today, the U.S., Israel and the nations at large prefer the practical. The biblical position is the only one that matters, however, so those involved in the "peace process" will soon reap even greater consequences.

We travel on Friday to Kuwait City, Kuwait, and then to Manama, Bahrain; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Sponsoring this trip

I look forward to spending eight days with President Bush, his staff and the White House media at such an opportune time — and I will be sharing insight during this time.

My trip will be extremely costly, so please pray about making a tax-deductible gift to help support this very important opportunity.

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Thank you for your consideration of both prayer and financial assistance.