Peace talks stalled while violence considered in the Middle East.

By November 2, 2005

Middle East (MNN)–Israel says peace talks in the Middle East will be tabled until the Palestinian radical groups disarm.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the withdrawal of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip after 38-year presence. But the prime minister also said it was now up to the Palestinians to make painful concessions towards peace.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has his hands full. While trying to settle peace issues and the violence inherent in the process, he is also fighting off attacks from parliament.

Palestinian lawmakers demanded the government’s dismissal over its failure to halt lawlessness. The Islamic militant group Hamas is expected to present a credible challenge to the Fatah party.

It’s the first national election since Israel left Gaza after nearly occupying the land for 40 years. In the meantime, the attacks and violence continues, making security a real concern for the polls. With the demand from Sharon, pressure mounts.

Dr. Bishara Awad (A-waht), President of the Bethlehem Bible College, has hope for what’s coming in the region’s future.

Change does not come without a price. “There’s the roadmap that America and (U-S President George) Bush has put on the table. Right now, it is still alive. I hope it will not die. We have a new president in Palestine, Abbas, and he is very sincere and very serious about working a peace agreement with Israel.”

But peace isn’t coming fast enough. For Christians in the region, there is the daily violence to deal with. Add to that a crippling poverty for those who lost their jobs when Israel began separation. Then there’s the persecution from both sides.

Awad says the pressure on them is intense. As a result, many believers are leaving the region, which means what’s left is a remnant church.

That’s why there is the Bible College. “With the Bible College, we wanted to keep Christianity in the land. We have found out that our graduates stay in the land. They serve the Lord and they go out and fellowship and preach and they even start churches.”

Awad is partnering with groups like IDEA Ministries. IDEA promotes missions through hands-on involvement in things like field training, and short-term service programs.

With IDEA’s help, teams will not only reach out to the Bethlehem community, but also help the Christian community ready themselves for impact in the region.

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