You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The current status of the Israel / PLO peace process
2) The current status of the situation with Syria
3) The current status of the situation with Iran
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said that any two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would require Israel to return to the 1967 borders. The establishment of a Palestine state was a necessary condition in order for there to be a peace process. Erdogan also said reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is a must for there to be a Palestine-Israel normalization process. He said: “Hamas and Fatah should reconcile with each other. We cannot differentiate Hamas and Fatah, both are brothers in heart. I don’t believe a conclusion can be reached in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process unless they agree.”
Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the peace negotiations with the Palestinians for Israel, responded to Erdogan’s comments by saying that a peace deal between Israel and a Hamas-led Palestinian government would be “impossible. There is no chance of striking a peace deal with Hamas. Hamas represents an Islamist ideology that does not recognize Israel’s existence.”
Qatar’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad said that the Middle East will not see peace unless we see a resolution to the Palestinian issue. Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders and allow the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. US Secretary of State made a Middle East visit on May 23 and 24 to speak with Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmood Abbas about restarting direct peace talks in the near future. Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, said that he fully supports Kerry’s efforts. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain supports Kerry’s efforts also. Hague said: “We believe that it is essential to bring about a two-state solution …. based on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states with a fair and agreed settlement for refugees.”
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said he supports Kerry’s efforts to restart direct peace talks saying that in the past two months Kerry had met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas five times, Erekat three times and that the three spoke by phone almost weekly. Erekat reiterated the Palestinians position that Israel must freeze building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and release Palestinian prisoners if the PLO were to agree to restart direct peace talks. He said that these were not conditions for returning to negotiations but rather obligations that Israel must fulfill. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel “must choose between building settlements and negotiating peace. If the United States want to help to restart direct peace talks then the settlement activity has to stop.”
Regarding Kerry’s plans to restart direct peace talks, Erekat said, “Mr. Kerry is keeping things (close to) his chest. He likes to work very, very, very below the radar. We are doing everything … in order to enable him to succeed. He is not going to wait for years or months actually, he’s working very hard.” After meeting with Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas in Ramallah, one Palestinian official said that Kerry brought “nothing new” to his discussions. He said that Palestinian expectations remain low because they see Kerry “trying to accommodate the Israelis, not pressure the Israelis.”
As a result, Erekat said that the Palestinians have done all the legal work necessary to join 63 UN agencies, conventions and treaties including the International Criminal Court should Kerry’s efforts fail. However, he said that the Palestinians will withhold their request to join these organizations to give Kerry and President Barack Obama “a chance” to pursue Middle East peace. “We want to give a chance to all nations who have a common denominator of achieving two states on the 1967 lines,” Erekat said. “There is a chance, there is a good opportunity now.”
The Palestinians believe that without major US pressure on Israel, the chance for success to restart direct peace talks is slim. Without major US pressure on Israel, Palestinians believe the outlook seems bleak. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official said, “Kerry’s plan should be a comprehensive one, not just economic and confidence-building measures and security, but also political and legal. We don’t have unrealistic expectations. We know the immensity of obstacles. If it doesn’t work, of course we have our own plans.”
Concerned that the international community might blame them for the standstill, Palestinian officials are planning a public relations offensive and diplomatic meetings around the world. Their main points will be to claim their willingness to compromise, based on a 25-year-old policy of recognizing Israel along the 1967 lines, their commitments to meeting past obligations and their acceptance of the renewed Arab peace initiative. Palestinian officials say that Kerry has given them a June 7 deadline for finding a framework agreement to being direct peace talks. US officials say they have never set a formal deadline for Mideast peace talks resuming or any other benchmark being reached.
In his meeting with Kerry, Netanyahu said that the discussions were “positive,” and that Israel had urged Kerry to do what he could to convince the PA to return to the negotiating table. In his comments, Kerry expressed optimism about restarting direct peace talks without outlining any concrete strategy. He said, “I know this region well enough to know there is skepticism, in some quarters there is cynicism and there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment. It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient — but detailed and tenacious — that we can lay on a path ahead that can conceivably surprise people and certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace.” Netanyahu replied by saying, “This is something I want, it’s something you want. It’s something I hope the Palestinians want as well and we ought to be successful for a simple reason: When there’s a will, we’ll find a way.” However, Israeli officials have been very reluctant about talking about details of the package Kerry is working on to get the sides back to the table, saying that there was “actually a chance” it could work and a public discussion of the details “could be detrimental.”
When Kerry found out that Israel had plans to legalize four West Bank outposts, he made an angry phone call to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in protest. Kerry urged Israel reconsider its decision or at least delay it to a later date. US Embassy spokesman Geoff Anisman said: “The United States do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and oppose any efforts to legalize settlement outposts which would undermine peace efforts and would contradict Israeli commitments and obligations.”
In explaining part of the strategy to restart direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government can stop only some of the settlements being built in lands contested by the Israelis and Palestinians – and in those cases it should act. Kerry said it was important not to let the issue of settlements stand in the way of talks that could finally set borders as part of a peace agreement. Then, he said, the issue would be resolved because each side would have clear boundaries for their two states. He stressed the importance of security for Israel and borders for Palestinians adding that those two goals can only be achieved through direct talks. Kerry called on both Netanyahu and Abbas to show their leadership and said the two sides must be given two weeks to consider a resumption of direct negotiations. Kerry urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make “hard decisions” to revive the Middle East peace process by saying, “We’re getting toward a time now when hard decisions need to be made.” Israel officials said the US did not have a formal program for moving ahead with the peace process.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior coalition partner, Yair Lapid, who leads the party, Yesh Atid, said reaching a final peace agreement with the Palestinians is unrealistic at the current time and the sides should instead pursue an interim arrangement. However, the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected this option. Lapid said that US President Barack Obama should set a three-year timeline for determining the final borders of a Palestinian state. As a gesture to the Israelis, he also called on Obama to endorse the position laid out by President George W. Bush in 2004, allowing Israel to keep the large Jewish settlements blocs in the West Bank. Lapid said, “I believe in the two-state solution. In my opinion, there is nothing more dangerous than the idea of a bi-national state.” Lapid favors Israel and the Palestinians to immediately return to the negotiations table “even if it’s controversial here, and even if it is hard to trust the Palestinians. We will not abandon negotiations,” he emphasized. At the same time, Lapid said that he rejects a full withdrawal to Israel’s 1967 borders. Lapid favors a broad pullout from the West Bank, including the dismantling of many settlements but believes Israel should hold on to major settlement “blocs” where the majority of Jewish settlers live. Lapid said that that Israel should not change its policy on allowing the expansion of Jewish communities in the West Bank due to “natural growth” in order to revive the stalemated peace process. Lapid also believes that Israel should keep control of east Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as their capital. Finally, Lapid said that he believes that Netanyahu, concerned about his political legacy, is serious about pursuing a peace agreement. He also believes there is enough support in the government, despite the presence of many pro-settler hard-liners to approve a withdrawal from much of the West Bank.
A sketched map of Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s land-for-peace offer to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008 — hurriedly drawn up by Abbas after a meeting with Olmert that December, and made public for the first time — suggests that Israel was prepared to withdraw to borders very similar to the pre-1967 lines and swap areas of northern and southern Israel in return for maintaining the larger settlement blocs.
The map, published by Walla news, was based on an offer Olmert made to Abbas on December 16, 2008, during a meeting in Jerusalem. Olmert presented Abbas with a large formal map showing his territorial compromise proposal for the contours of a Palestinian state as part of a permanent peace accord. “We asked them to meet the following day together with map experts, in order to arrive at a final formula for the border between Palestine and Israel,” Olmert said. Olmert demanded that Abbas initial the proposal before taking it back to Ramallah for consideration by the Palestinians. Abbas refused to do so, but on his return to his headquarters, he gathered his officials and asked them to remain silent while he hastily recreated the offer on a sheet of official Palestinian Authority notepaper. The sketch, which includes no place names, indicates that Olmert was apparently willing to more or less return to the pre-1967 lines, while maintaining the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, the settlement city of Ma’ale Adumin to the east, and a slice of territory that apparently would encompass the large settlement of Ariel in Samaria. In exchange for expanding Israeli sovereignty to those areas, Israel would have given up some of its own land to the new Palestinian state.
According to Walla, Olmert envisaged relinquishing Israeli territory on a one-for-one basis to the Palestinians in areas including near Afula; near Tirat Zvi south of Beit She’an; north of Jerusalem; in the Judean Desert, and in the Lachish area. He also endorsed a tunnel route to link Gaza and the West Bank. Olmert, as he has subsequently confirmed, was also prepared to divide Jerusalem into Israeli- and Palestinian-controlled neighborhoods, and to relinquish Israeli sovereignty at the Temple Mount and the entire Old City. He proposed that the “Holy Basin” be overseen instead by a five-member, non-sovereign international trusteeship, comprising Israel, the PA, Jordan, the US and Saudi Arabia. According to Walla, Olmert has confirmed that Abbas’s sketched map is similar to that depicted in his proposal, and reconfirmed his readiness to have relinquished sovereignty at the Temple Mount. The map shows no Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley. Walla said Olmert confirmed he was ready to forgo an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley — a key strategic area, control of which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defined as vital to Israel’s security. In return, Walla cited Olmert as saying, Israel expected full security cooperation with Jordan.
Olmert has said that Abbas did not accept the offer but also did not specifically reject it. Rather, according to Olmert, Abbas failed to respond to it. As a result, Olmert said that Abbas is ‘no hero.’
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Israel must return to ’67 borders for solution: Turkish PM
2) Livni: Erdogan wrong to think Hamas can be part of peace process
3) Qatar: Arab Spring makes Israeli-Palestinian peace more pressing
4) Hague: Time Running Out for a ‘Two-State Solution’
5) Jordanian FM hopeful Kerry will relaunch talks
6) US, Israel Raise Hopes for Middle East Peace Talks Revival
7) Chief Palestinian peace negotiator backs Kerry’s efforts
8.) Ramallah putting little faith in US-led peace effort
9) Abbas: Netanyahu must choose between settlements and peace
10) Palestinians hold off on UN agency membership
11) PM to Kerry: Let’s Get Talks With PA Going
12) US Embassy: Outpost legalization undermines peace process
13) Kerry reportedly raps Israeli ambassador over outposts
14) Kerry’s focus on peace talks, not settlements
15) Kerry urges renewed talks, not a settlement freeze
16) Kerry: Israel, Palestinians must take hard decisions
17) Hand-drawn map shows what Olmert offered for peace
18) Abbas failed to accept my peace offer because he’s ‘no hero,’ says Olmert
19) Lapid calls for interim peace deal with Palestinians
20) Minister Lapid: No Building Freeze in Judea, Samaria
21) Lapid clarifies stance after ‘NY Times’ interview
22) Israel’s UN envoy: Palestinian ‘hatred’ threatens talks
The British Sunday Times reports that the Syrian army has begun deploying advanced surface-to-surface missiles aimed at Tel Aviv. If Israel tries again to strike Syrian targets to prevent Syria from transferring weapons to Hezbollah in Syria the Syrian army has received orders to strike central Israel. Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to this report by saying that “”Our policy is to stop, as much as possible, any leaks of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. We will continue to act to ensure the security interests of the citizens of Israel.”
Syrian troops and their Hizballah supportees captured Al-Qasayr, the northwestern town which commands the high road from Syrian Homs to Lebanon’s Hermel Mountains. The significance of this event is as follows:
1) Iranian arms targeted for the Lebanese Shi’ite group, Hezbollah can now go through from Syria to its final destination unobstructed.
2) It cuts off the Syrian rebels’ main supply and communications route via Lebanon through which their Arab backers Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE were able to send them fighters, arms and funds.
3) Rebel positions in the nearby town of Homs become increasingly vulnerable, as the Syrian army regains control of the main highway links between Damascus, Homs and Aleppo. Qusayr also links Damascus with the Mediterranean coast where the Islamic Shi’ite sect of Bashar Assad known as the Alawites remain loyal to him.
4) After the rebels were pushed out of Al-Qasayr, Turkey remains their only accessible source of supplies.
With this victory, Syria and Hizballah are making no secret of their plans for a military confrontation with Israel after they win the Syrian civil war.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States and its Arab and European allies will give more aid to Syria’s opposition if the world can’t find a path toward a negotiated outcome. British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said: “It is the longstanding view of the UK that Assad needs to be removed from power and we don’t see any solution that has him remaining in power.”
Finally, Russia’s unwavering support of Bashar Assad to remain in power continue. Two warships of Russia’s Black Sea fleet joined the country’s Mediterranean task force. Russia’s defense ministry said in April that Russia has begun setting up a naval task force in the Mediterranean, sending several warships from the Pacific Fleet to defend Russia’s interests in the region. The Mediterranean task force is comprised of 10 warships and support vessels as part of several tactical groups tasked with attack, antisubmarine warfare and minesweeping.
A war with Syria where Damascus is destroyed (Isaiah 17) is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles is as follows:
1) Kerry vows to step up support for Syrian rebels
2) Report: Syrian Army Aiming Missiles at Tel Aviv
3) PM: Israel will keep stopping arms transfers to Hezbollah
4) Syrian-Hizballah’s capture of Qusayr opens direct weapons route to Lebanon
5) After the al Qusayr victory, Syria and Hizballah plan war on Israel
6) Two Warships Join Russia’s Mediterranean Task Force
The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) said that Iran has increased its capacity to refine uranium by installing hundreds of more centrifuges at its Natanz plant. Diplomats said that Iran has installed close to 700 high-tech centrifuges in an upgrade of its uranium enrichment program since the start of the year. That represents an increase of about 100 since mid-April. However, the IAEA report also showed limited growth of Iran’s most sensitive nuclear stockpile and it remained below an Israeli “red line” for possible military action.
The link to these articles is as follows:
From a Biblical prophetic perspective, the reason why the God of Israel would allow these events to happen is because it will result in the end of the exile of the house of Jacob and the reunification of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).
We will to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” and we will not rest until the God of Israel makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62).
Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l