Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced on Tuesday night that he has severed security cooperation agreements with the U.S. and Israel, over the Israeli government’s plan to vote on a proposal to annex contested parts of the West Bank.
It’s a move that Abbas has long threatened, but until now has never followed through on — and it raises the prospect of new turmoil in the region ahead of the 2020 election in the United States.
On Tuesday, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden waded into the fierce debate, telling Jewish American donors during a virtual fundraiser that he intends to reverse some aspects of the Trump Administration’s policy toward Israel.
In the new Fox Nation multi-part series, “Battle in the Holy Land,” Fox News co-host Pete Hegseth traveled to the region and spoke to Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the conflict, and he explained how the world has come to this juncture.
“The biblical land of Judea and Samaria, captured by Jordan in 1948 and renamed the West Bank only to be recaptured by Israel in 1967,” narrated Hegseth in the Fox Nation series. “For more than five decades, the area has been in dispute, but that hasn’t stopped people from moving in.
“Many Israelis began establishing settlements in the newly captured territory which they consider to be part of their ancestral homeland,” he continued. “Palestinians say that over the past five decades, the settlements have systematically been swallowing up their land.”
In January, President Donald Trump unveiled a U.S.-sponsored peace plan calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and he dubbed it the “deal of the century.”
Following Trump’s announcement, Hegseth points out, Palestinian officials exploded.
“We say a thousand times, no, no, no to the deal of the century,” said Abbas at the time. “If the Americans continue with this project, we have no problem in stopping the security coordination.”
The White House proposal envisioned the creation of a future state of Palestine in Gaza, parts of the West Bank, and neighborhoods on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It would also allow Israel to annex settlements in the West Bank, which the Palestinians have long contended to be illegal.
“When the Trump administration released its map of the proposed new two-state solution it included 15 Israeli enclaves that would be surrounded by the Palestinian state,” said Hegseth. “The spot that could become enclave eight lies deep in the Judean mountains. And it’s already inhabited by a group of deeply religious Jewish settlers.”
There Hegseth met with Jeremy Gimpel, an Orthodox rabbi born in Atlanta and Ari Abramowitz, a rabbi from Texas. Hegseth asked them why they would risk their lives and their family’s lives to create a new settlement in these barren hills.
“In these caves behind us, literally, David and his men lived,” said Gimpel, gesturing toward the landscape behind him. “The Kingdom of Israel in some ways began in these mountains. That’s why we’re here.”
Hegseth showed how these emotional ties to the land are just as deeply held by those on the other side of the dispute.
“The total landmass that Palestinians are not allowed to live in today is 8.3 percent of the total historic land of Palestine,” said Professor Mazin Qumsiyah of Bethlehem University, “over two dozen communities that are isolated and insulated from each other, just like in South Africa under apartheid.”
Offering a glimmer of hope in this harshly divided place, Hegseth lastly met two men — one Israeli and one Palestinian– who have formed an unlikely friendship through their partnership in a regional chamber of commerce.
“The small inroads toward peace made person to person may be the best hope for calming tensions in an area that has been in dispute for hundreds of generations,” concluded Hegseth. “But Israeli settlers are adamant that this is their ancestral land and they are here to stay even with a new peace deal on the table. There does not appear to be an end in sight to the battle in the Holy Land.”
To watch all of “Battle in the Holy Land,” go to Fox Nation and sign up today.