As the 2020 US elections are underway, the deal is aimed at securing the support of evangelicals, who made up more than 80 percent of Trump's electorate in 2016 presidential election.
What Trump calls “the deal of the century” is what Palestinians see as a simple land grab and denial of their rights.
The deal permits Israel to annex large chunks of the Palestinian territories it occupied in 1967, including large pockets of illegal Jewish settlements, dealing a huge blow to Palestinian hopes for an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Israel immediately praised the deal as a “great plan”, but Christian evangelical leaders are as happy as Israel.
“Israel just got kissed by God,” Mike Evans, founder of Friends of Zion Museum and a member of the Trump Faith Initiative said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
“I’m not referring to Donald Trump as God, but I am saying he has Divine inspiration,” he said, referring to the deal.
‘Deal of the Century’: a means to usher in the return of Christ
The majority of evangelical Christians in the US are the most reliable supporters of the Israeli government, for a reason largely based on the “the end-times” prophecy rather than politics.
There are different understandings of the order of the prophecy, but one belief common among conservative evangelists is the restoration of Israel as a type of Jewish theocracy, which will eventually set the stage for the second coming of Christ.
According to the evangelical belief system, the creation of Israel and a complete takeover of Jerusalem, including the area where the Al Aqsa mosque exists, will pave the way for the end-of-times prophecy. With Israel occupying East Jerusalem since 1967 and effectively annexing it in 1980, the evangelical belief of a Second Coming became stronger.
Trump has taken several controversial steps against Palestine in the past four years of his presidency, including the decision of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, and also refusing to disapprove of illegal settlements built by Jews on the occupied Palestinian land. Despite the outcry from the international community that did not recognise Israeli control of east Jerusalem and the UN resolutions disregarding them as illegal, the Trump administration moved ahead with its 'peace' plan.
For evangelists, who see full Israeli control of Jerusalem as the first step necessary for the Second Coming, it was a much desired move.
Although Jewish theology contradicts the evangelical belief, Israel reciprocated evangelical love towards the Zionist state. In the 1980s, Israel embraced the support of evangelicals, the fastest-growing tourists in Israel.
Evangelical support for Donald Trump
Trump began tapping into evangelical discourse during his election campaign in 2016, as he promised that he would be Israel’s best friend and move the US embassy to Jerusalem. That led him to get more than 80 percent of his votes from the group.
Shortly after taking office, he tasked his son-in-law and the Senior Middle East Advisor Jared Kushner with creating a peace plan between Israel and Palestine -- a move widely supported by the US evangelists.
Ten evangelical leaders issued statements in support of Kushner, while criticism of the move abounds.
“It’s just like God to use a young Jewish couple to help Christians in the United States, defend their rights, and secure their religious freedom for now, and for subsequent generations,” Jeremiah, a pastor of a Southern Baptist megachurch in California said referring to Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
What the pastors referred to as religious freedom, Conservative Supreme Court justices promise, including anti-abortion measures. A commitment to Christian supremacy has also played a big role in evangelicals’ support to Trump during the elections.
Seeking re-election in the upcoming presidential elections in October, Trump is already surrounded by the right people: Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are both evangelists. They have both become powerful forces in pushing for an evangelical-infused diplomacy in the US.
The group’s support carries vital importance for Trump’s re-election. But the need is mutual. The majority of the group sees Trump as the ultimate protector of their rights and are likely to vote for him again.