BETHEL, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday his government agreed to a three-month extension to the West Bank settlement freeze late last year, but the U.S. later retracted the offer.
"I told Obama that I am prepared to go with this to the cabinet and that I will be able to enforce the move. But then I received the surprising phone call from the Americans who said they no longer demand that Israel extends the freeze," the prime minister explained before the before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
According to Netanyahu, the U.S. officials decided another freeze would only lead to a dead end.
Freeze Still Bone of Contention
The U.S. may have backed off on its demand for a construction freeze, but the issue of building in the Jewish communities is still one of the most divisive issues in Middle East peace talks.
"Like every American administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated on Dec. 10 at the Seventh Annual Saban Forum. "We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel's future itself."
Despite that view, millions of Christians worldwide still believe the Bible trumps political leaders regarding Israel.
"I don't think President Obama and his administration have any idea how much it does matter to God let alone to the Jewish people, to Israel," international Bible teacher Lance Lambert said.
Lambert said this isn't the first time Washington has tried to divide the Promised Land.
"These presidents…sort of say to the Lord, 'We have to change this,' he said. "'You made a colossal mistake 4,000 years ago, when you made a covenant with this people. You forgot the Palestinians. You forgot human rights. It's not politically acceptable, so we will divide the land into two states."
The modern-day community of Beit El, located near the biblical city of Bethel, is an example of the potential impact of U.S. policy.
According to the Old Testament, 4,000 years ago Jacob dreamed of a ladder to heaven, and the God of Abraham appeared to him promising the land of Israel to him and his descendants.
Stumbling Block: a Jewish State
Rabbi Eliezer Waldman told CBN News that this dispute dates back to God's covenant with Israel.
"It's not the settlements that are a stumbling block," Waldman explained. "It's the establishment of the settlement of a Jewish state in the Middle East that's a stumbling block in the eyes of the nations of the world."
So as the world pushes Israel to give up its biblical heartland for peace, many Christians see a totally different result.
"If you ask me what was the outlook, it is absolutely clear to me that the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Quartet, the United Nations are bent on this division of the Promised land," Lambert said, "which means that God will judge and judge and judge."