Evangelicals targetted as opposition to Middle East peace
Evangelical Christians in the United States are the National Union Party's natural partners for halting US President George W. Bush's "road map" for Middle East peace, senior National Union MK Benny Elon said.
In a meeting in Beit El, the tourism minister urged the party to strengthen its ties with American Evangelical Christian groups, who are also interested in Israel maintaining its hold on the territories, reports the Jerusalem Post.
"I hope that we will come out with our own platform to show the whole world that there will be no peace in this region if people do not understand that it is impossible to set up two states on this side of the Jordan River," said Elon, although he did not present any further details regarding that platform. His spokesman said Elon is working on a separate peace plan, the details of which he will release soon.
The National Union has urged settlers to fight the plan by lobbying Knesset members and government ministers. Elon said he hopes that US Christians will similarly lobby their politicians against the road map.
As an international group of Christians, some holding Bibles, toured the West Bank community on Monday morning, Elon told his colleagues that millions of Christians who support Israel in the United States have political power that can be harnessed.
Many Evangelical Christians in the USA have eschatological views which views the establishment of the state of Israel as necessary for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Many therefore find themselves in opposition to a "two state" solution.
"We have to strengthen our ties with those connected to and who influence Bush. He has the strength to stand up to international opinion," Elon said.
Noting that Bush is a religious man and pays close attention to Christian interests, Elon added, "He is a man who prays daily. He knows the Bible... But if the prime minister says a two-state solution should be here, what do you expect from Bush?"
National Union politicians were particularly upset that Sharon said Israel may relinquish sovereignty over settlements at sites of major biblical significance such as Beit El, Bethlehem, and Shiloh as part of creating a Palestinian state.
Party members said they believed the only place for a Palestinian state is on the other side of the Jordan River. They say they oppose any interpretation of the road map, that calls for a Palestinian state on land on this side of the river, which they believe properly belongs to Israel.