Archive for March, 2013

March 23, 2013: Weekly 5 minute update (Audio Only)

Friday, March 22nd, 2013


Uploaded. This week’s update is 33 minutes.

You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:

1) Listen to the audio

In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:

1) Obama’s visit to Israel as it relates to the current status of the Israel / PLO peace process

In December, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab League that he was in favor of a mechanism that would restart direct peace negotiations with Israel which would include an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, a freeze on building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and a release of  Palestinians from Israeli jails. He also said that the Palestinians don’t accept the presence of the Israeli army in the Jordan Valley. Furthermore, he said that peace talks should be based upon the 2002 Saudi peace initiative with a six-month timetable to agree on the details of any peace agreement.

In January, an Israeli newspaper reported that following Israeli elections and the formation of a new coalition government that Britain and France with the support of Germany would present a peace initiative which would include provision for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The possible proposal suggests that negotiations be based on pre-1967 borders with possible land swaps and push for all core issues to be resolved by the end of 2013. It would also demand a freeze on building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. An Israeli official said that if the Palestinians accept the proposal that Israel would be backed into a corner. The President of France said that France will promote a new Israeli / Palestinian peace plan in March and that he sees 2013 as the year when the Middle East peace process will be brought to a conclusion.

This past week, former Israeli minister,  Yossi Beilin said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently asked European leaders not to publish a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians at the present time because the United States is planning to lead with its own plan.  According to a report in an Israel newspaper, Kerry will be in Israel in the next week to try to kick start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians using the 2002 Saudi Peace initiative as the starting point of future talks. According to that plan, Arab nations would recognize and make peace with Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, an agreed solution to the Palestinian refugee issue and acceptance of the formation of an independent Palestinian state.

Retired Brig. General Michael Herzog, a former Israel army intelligence officer who is an international fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said that the United States is trying a new strategy to bring peace to the region. “They’re not opening with a high-profile launching of some new initiative. President Obama is not himself the face of the initiative. There are lowering expectations. Most of the work will be conducted behind the scenes. The emphasis is on a lot of preparatory meetings and stage setting leading to both bilateral and regional talks.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his new government was extending its hand in peace to the Palestinians, declaring that he was ready to make a “historic compromise” if they return to the negotiating table with good will. At a press conference with President Barack Obama, Netanyahu said: “Israel is “fully committed” to resolving the decades-long conflict with the Arabs with a solution which involves two states for two peoples.” He went on to say that President Obama’s visit to Israel presented “an opportunity to try and find a way to advance peace” with the Palestinians. He also said: “I hope that Obama’s visit along with the visit of Secretary of State Kerry will help us turn a page in our relations with the Palestinians.” If Israel and the Palestinians were able to agree on terms of a peace deal, Labor leader, Shelly Yachimovich promised to support a peace agreement. She told Netanyahu: “If Israel ever gets to even an interim agreement with the Palestinians … I promise you, what I said to you face-to-face that Labor will join your government in order to support a peace agreement.”

In speaking with the Palestinians, President Barack Obama said that he does not support preconditions for restarting direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a reversal from the policy of his first administration. Obama said that Palestinians could not expect an Israeli settlement freeze ahead of restarting direct peace talks saying that Israeli politics were “complex” and that this is “not an issue that will be solved overnight.” He further said that if issues were made into preconditions to negotiations, he said, there was “no point in negotiations.” In speaking about preconditions, Obama was mainly referring to Palestinian insistence that Israel freeze building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to restart peace negotiations.  Obama said: “If we solve the issue of sovereignty for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis – the issue of settlements will be solved too.

Even so, Obama said that he told Netanyahu that  it is US policy to regard settlement activity as being not constructive, appropriate or advancing the cause of peace. Obama told Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas that the United States is committed to seeking a two-state solution. The United States desires an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel so that the two sides enjoy prosperity and peace and the only way to achieve this goal is through direct negotiations. Nevertheless, Obama stressed to Israel that it must make peace with the Palestinians if it is to ensure its survival and long-term viability as a homeland for the Jewish people. Furthermore, Israeli occupation of areas that the Palestinians claim for their state must end, Obama said.  However, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction. Direct negotiations will be necessary to achieve peace. But, there is no secret where they must lead — two states for two peoples. There will be differences about how to get there, and hard choices along the way. Arab States must adapt to a world that has changed. Now is the time for the Arab World to take steps toward normalized relations with Israel. At the same time, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. Israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace, and that an independent Palestine must be viable– that real borders will have to be drawn. I’ve suggested principles on territory and security that I believe can be the basis for talks.

Regarding Obama’s views on the peace process, the leader of Jewish Home, Naftali Bennett, whose party opposes a Palestinian state said that  “there is no occupation within one’s own land.” In Netanyahu’s new government, Jewish Home Knesset member, Uri Ariel, is the Israeli minister for Construction and Housing. He said that “there is no room for freezing” construction in the West Bank. Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), leader Avigdor Lieberman said he does not believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be solved and rejected any possible freeze in settlement construction. He further said: “Those who talk about solving the Palestinian problem must be deluding themselves. This conflict cannot be solved. Instead, it should be managed.

Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas presented US President Barack Obama with two principles he said must be included in any formula that will allow the resumption of peace talks. First, a freeze in building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and secondly, the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Regarding the issue of settlements, Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas told Obama that it is not only the Palestinian position but that the world considers the settlements as illegal saying, “Everybody considers the settlements as an obstacle to the two-state solution. The United Nations Security Council has issued more than 13 resolutions that not only condemn the settlements but demand ending and removing them. As a result, the Palestinians will demand nothing less than the implementation of international law. Regarding the recognition of Israel, Abbas said, “The Palestinians continue to recognize Israel according to the 2003 Road Map and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.”

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat said that being able to restart direct peace talks will require a deeper and long-standing effort by President Obama and his new secretary of state, John Kerry. He said, “We really hope that President Obama and Secretary Kerry can succeed in reviving a meaningful peace process, succeed in having Netanyahu saying the sentence that he accepts the two states in the 1967 borders. We don’t need a new peace plan. We need commitment.”

Meanwhile, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that he doesn’t see a great chance for a breakthrough in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He said, “To have a meaningful Palestinian-Israeli agreement, the Arab world has to be prepared to guarantee and accept it. The Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is not ready to accept genuine coexistence with Israel.”

Finally, US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel plans to visit Israel in April.

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Abbas offers 6-month talks with settlement freeze
2) Britain and France ‘spearheading new Middle East peace plan’
3) France: New Peace Initiative after Elections
4) Beilin: Kerry Confirmed Obama Peace Plan
5) Introducing the Kerry Initiative: a secret, new Mideast peace plan
6) Kerry expected to revive 2002 Saudi peace initiative
7) PM says new government will pursue deal with Palestinians
8.) Netanyahu Indicates Commitment to ‘Two-State Solution’
9) Reversing policy of first term, Obama says no preconditions to talks
10) Details of Obama’s Visit to Israel
11) Obama in J’lem: You are not alone, but ‘occupation must end’
12) Bennett on Obama’s speech: No occupation in our own land
13) PA to Obama: Complete settlement freeze essential
14) Abbas to Obama: Israel talks only in exchange for settlement freeze, release of prisoners
15) Incoming Housing Minister: ‘No Room’ for Construction Freezes
16) Lieberman says will oppose settlement freeze
17) Lieberman: Peace won’t progress in next 4 years
18) Kissinger: Little chance of breakthrough in peace talks
19) US defense chief Hagel to visit Israel in April

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l

March 16, 2013: Weekly 5 minute update (Audio Only)

Thursday, March 14th, 2013


Uploaded. This week’s update is 36 minutes.

You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:

1) Listen to the audio

In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:

1) The current status of Netanyahu’s efforts to form a new government coalition
2) The current status of the Israel / PLO peace process

On March 2, Netanyahu was granted a two week extension to form a government. His deadline to form a government was March 16.  An agreement to establish a government was made on March 15.

Initially, the centrist secular party, Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid wanted to head the office of Foreign ministry. The current Israel Foreign Minister is Avigdor Lieberman. In December, Lieberman was accused of illegal activities. He has not been criminally charged. In the January 22 Israeli elections, Likud ran on a joint-party list with Israel Beitenu. As part of their agreement, Netanyahu promised Lieberman that if he was cleared of the charges against him that he would remain as Foreign Minister. Netanyahu promised Lieberman to hold the cabinet position pending the outcome of the investigation. Therefore, Netanyahu refused to offer this position to Yesh Atid.

At the beginning of this week’s negotiations, there was a deadlock between Likud negotiators, the party of Benjamin Netanyahu, and the centrist secular party of Yesh Atid (There is a Future) headed by Yair Lapid and the modern Orthodox nationalistic party of Jewish Home headed by Naftali Bennett over the issue of who would be in control of the Interior, Finance and Education ministries. Initially, Yesh Atid wanted to head the Interior and Education ministries. Jewish Home wanted the Finance ministry. However, Netanyahu wanted to retain both the Interior and Education Ministry for his Likud party.

In response to the high demands of Yesh Atid to be included in the government, Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying that he would conduct negotiations with the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, to have them join the government instead. However, even if the ultra-Orthodox parties did decide to join the government, Netanyahu would still need the Labor party of Shelly Yacimovich to join the coalition if Netanyahu wanted to form a government. In the past several weeks, the Labor party has been adamant that they will not join Netanyahu’s government. Responding to Likud’s threat to negotiate with the ultra-Orthodox parties, Jewish Home leader, Naftali Bennett wrote on his Facebook page: “My friends from Likud. Forget about it. It won’t work like this. There are gaps. We have to talk and compromise. All of us. Until a government is established. There is a country we need to worry about.”

In further negotiations between the parties, a compromise was reached whereby if Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid, would give up the Interior ministry that Likud would agree that they could have the Education ministry. Rabbi Shay Piron of Yesh Atid would head the Education ministry. Yair Lapid will become the Finance minister. One of the major campaign issues for both Yesh Atid and Jewish Home was the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students into the Israeli military. A formula was found to resolve the matter. During the elections, Yesh Atid called for the number of government officials serving in the Israeli cabinet to be reduced from 30 to 18. Yesh Atid agreed with the final number being 21 or 22. The parties also agreed to raise the threshold for Knesset representation from the current 2% to 4% for the next election. The new threshold would mean that in the next elections,  no party with have fewer than 5 Knesset members. Of the current parties, three Arab parties – Hadash, Ra’am Ta’al, Balad would not meet the minimum requirement along with the Jewish party, Kadima headed by Shaul Mofaz. Further reforms in the government include needing a majority of 65  Knesset member in the next election to topple the government instead of the present majority of 61.

The new government coalition agreement was signed by Yesh Atid and Jewish Home on March 15. In forming the new government, Netanyahu made the following statement: “The new government will work together in full cooperation for the benefit of the entire Israeli public. We will act to strengthen the state of Israel’s security and to improve the quality of life of its citizens.”

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett released his own statement regarding the new government agreement saying: “With God’s help, we signed it. The 33rd Israeli government is ready to go! I encourage Prime Minister Netanyahu and all of us Cabinet ministers to remember that we are representatives of the entire Israeli public. We promised during elections to take care of the cost of living, to increase competition in the marketplace and to restore to the state its Jewish soul, and now we’ve got the tools to do it.”

One of the major issues for Netanyahu to be able to form a government was the drafting of ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students into the Israel military. The ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, wanted to maintain the status quo. Because of the differences in opinion over the matter, it was not possible for Yesh Atid and Jewish Home to be in the same government with the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism. In their election campaign’s, Yesh Atid and Jewish Home insisted that ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students serve in the Israeli military.  Yesh Atid wanted to place more stricter requirements upon the ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students than Jewish Home. A compromise was worked out between Yesh Atid and Jewish Home on the issue. A ministerial committee headed by Yesh Atid will submit a bill within 45 days that will ultimately draft ultra-Orthoodox Yeshiva students into the Israel military.  As a result, the outline of the coalition agreement is as follows:

The drafting of ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students into the Israeli military will begin at age 21, instead of age 18 – giving students an automatic deferment of three years. At that point, they will have to serve two years. Those who do not enlist will not face criminal charges but will be prohibited from leaving the country and won’t be eligible for welfare and tax benefits (including social security payments for large families), among other penalties. In addition, religious educational institutions that encourage their students to dodge the draft, like some ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, will face a “significant” reduction in funding from the state. The number of students who will be exempted for Torah study will be 1,800, far more than the 400 Lapid had suggested. The plan will take effect only in 2017 and students who are beyond enlistment age up until that time will not be “grandfathered” into the arrangement. The new government will also implement economic measures aimed at encouraging the ultra-Orthodox to join the workforce.

The ultra-Orthodox parties claimed that the new proposed laws to draft ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students into the Israeli military were meant to be an attack against Torah and Judaism. As a result, the new government coalition agreement will read “the State of Israel recognizes the importance and centrality of Torah study as a central value of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

The coalition agreement will also require that the so-called “core subjects,” including math, science and English, will be taught in all Israeli schools within two-and-a-half years. Finally, the coalition agreement will call for the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians and increasing financial support to Holocaust survivors.

Some of the key government position agreed upon by the parties include the following:

Avigdor Lieberman – Foreign Minister
Yair Lapid – Finance Minister
Rabbi Shai Piron – Minister of Education
Naftali Bennett – Minister of Economics and Trade, the Diaspora and Jerusalem
Uri Ariel – Housing and Construction Minister along with Israel Lands Administration
Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan – Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs
Tzipi Livni – Justice Minister in charge of peace talks with the Palestinians.

The ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, have had a monopoly over Jewish religious affairs in Israel in the history of the modern nation. By not being in the government and by not being able to control the ministries which operate and control religious issues, this is a HUGE event that will shape the future course of the country and its prophetic future.

The coalition will comprise four parties: Likud-Beytenu (31 seats), Yesh Atid (19), Jewish Home (12) and Hatnua (6), for a total of 68 members in the 120-seat Knesset.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Yesh Atid threatens Netanyahu: Education Ministry or no deal
2) Negotiating Teams Meet to Finalize Coalition Agreement
3) Lapid, Bennett’s Vice Premier titles stall coalition
4) Yesh Atid, Likud reach possible compromise
5) Compromise reached toward final coalition deal
6) Israel’s next government agreed: 4 parties, 68 members
7) Likud signs deals with Lapid, Bennett
8.) Jewish Home, Yesh Atid ink coalition deal with Likud-Beytenu
9) Bayit Yehudi Presents: The ‘New Deal’ on Yeshiva Student Drafts
10) Coalition deal: Fewer benefits for haredim, draft reform
11) Coalition Agreement: Up Knesset Threshold to 4%
12) Report: Uri Ariel to Receive Israel Lands Administration
13) Coalition Deal Seen as Great Achievement for Religious Zionism

Speaking at the 13th annual, Herzliya Conference in Israel, Tzipi Livni said that it is “critical for us to reach a final status agreement” with the Palestinians. She went on to say: “Having two states for two nations is the most basic interest of the Jewish people” as this solution can be the “only way we can preserve the existence of a democratic Jewish state.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians officials are trying to lower the expectation for US President Barack Obama’s visit to the region in the coming week. The Obama administration has stated that Obama is not coming to the Middle East to present a new peace initiative but instead is just coming “to listen’ to both sides.

In response to this, a Palestinian source said: “We don’t know what the Americans still haven’t heard about this issue since things have been laid on the table time after time. If there’s real intent to resolve things, the Americans don’t need any more information from the Palestinians.”

The US is also seeking to prevent the Palestinians from taking further unilateral moves through international bodies including taking their case against Israel to the International Court of Justice. Reportedly, the Palestinians have agreed on the condition that the Obama administration offers an acceptable formula to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table with the aim of establishing a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

In the days leading up to Obama’s visit, the Palestinians plan to hold intensive meetings with foreign ambassadors and consuls-general to present the Palestinian position on the conditions for resuming peace talks with Israel with primary emphasis on the need for a freeze in building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The European Parliament passed a resolution demanding the trial or prompt release of Palestinians held in Israel without charge. It called on the Israeli authorities to investigate this case and raised concerns about the Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge, demanding that they be charged and tried or promptly released. The European Parliament repeated its call for the immediate release of all imprisoned members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including Marwan Barghouti. Members of the European Parliament called on EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the member states to monitor the fate of Palestinian prisoners and detainees closely and to raise the issue at all levels of political dialogue with Israel.

Finally, General Ban Ki-Moon has announced that in future, the ‘State of Palestine’ will be the official alternative name for the ‘Palestinian Authority’ within all UN institutions, but not in Palestinian-Israeli institutions. The Secretary-General of the UN announced a report prepared to clarify the new changes in the status of the Palestinian Authority, now ‘the State of Palestine,’ within the UN. However, they can nominate representatives in the International Criminal Court who share decision making on certain issues. This is a cause of concern for Israel because based upon this right, the Palestinians could call for the formation of an international trial to investigate the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

So, what does the new Netanyahu government mean for the peace process ?

The modern Orthodox nationalistic party of Jewish Home is a member of the Netanyahu government. One of their positions within the government is over Housing, Construction and Israel land administration. They are opposed to a settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As a result, Jewish Home is not likely to agree to a settlement/construction freeze. The Palestinian position has long been that they will NOT restart negotiations unless there is first a building freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This situation will likely cause the talks to remain in stalemate as it is unlikely that a common formula can be found to restart peace talks.

In Sept of 2011, the Palestinians requested to be recognized through the UN Security Council as a Palestinian state with 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as the capitol. Since that time, the US has blocked this request from being voted upon as they have threatened to veto the proposal.

The Palestinians had their status upgraded at the UN to become a non-member state on November 29, 2012. If Israel and the Palestinians continue to not find common ground for restarting peace talks, the Palestinians will likely say to Obama, “Cancel your veto threat for our request to be a full member state of the United Nations based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital or we will take our case to the UN International Criminal Court. This showdown is likely to take place in the next couple months.

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Livni: Final status agreement with PA ‘critical’
2) Palestinian Authority officials lower expectations of Obama visit
3) EP calls for release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails
4) UN will refer to ‘State of Palestine’ in official communications: Ban

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l

March 9, 2013: Weekly 5 minute update (Audio Only)

Friday, March 8th, 2013


You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:

1) Listen to the audio

In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:

1) The current status of Netanyahu’s efforts to form a new government coalition
2) The current status of the Israel / PLO peace process

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is nearing completion to form a new government coalation. The Jewish parties elected to the Israeli Knesset are as follows:

1) The Tzipi Livni Part (Hatnua) (“The Movement”).  Her primary objective is to see a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel. Her party has joined Netanyahu’s government and will oversee peace negotiations.

2) Yesh Atid (There is a Future). The party leader is former Israeli journalist, Yair Lapid. This is a secular centrist party. They would like to see ultra-Orthodox Jews drafted into the Israeli military, restart of peace talks with the Palestinians, a reduction in the size of the Israeli government and economic policies that help the middle class.

3) Jewish Home. This is a religious Zionist party. Many are modern Orthodox Jews who serve in the Israeli army and have daily jobs. They are against a PLO state.

4) Shas. This is a Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party. They don’t want to see their Yeshiva students be drafted into the Israeli army. Their Yeshiva students study Talmud all day and most don’t have a daily job.

5) United Torah Judaism. This is an Askenazi ultra-Orthodox party. They don’t want to see their Yeshiva students be drafted into the Israeli army. There Yeshiva students study Talmud all day and most don’t have a daily job.

6) Kadima. The party leader is Shaul Mofaz. He would like to be Defense Minister and he supports a PLO state.

Two other political parties, Labor and Meretz, said that they would not join Netanyahu’s coalition.

On March 2, Netanyahu was granted a two week extension to form a government. His deadline is March 16. Netanyahu used the moment to criticize Jewish Home for forming an alliance with Yesh Atid and taking a position regarding drafting ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students into the Israeli army that would cause the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, to not be able to join the government. He said, “The reason I have not succeeded in establishing this government is, simply, that there are boycotts. There is a boycott of a section of the public in Israel and this does not jibe with my world view. I am doing everything within my power to unite the nation. I think that we, as Jews, suffered from boycotts. We know that Israel is boycotted in international forums and we protest that justly. The people who should understand this better than anyone are the settlers from Judea and Samaria, who undergo daily boycotts. That is why, in my world view, in history we underwent terrible tragedies as a result of hatred between brothers and internecine strife, and when we look around us today and see the tremendous challenges around us – security challenges, the challenge of a holding responsible diplomatic process – these challenges require a unification of strength and not a splitting of forces, and that is why I want to use the coming days for another attempt to bring about a wide government. I hope that the parties’ leaders show responsibility.”

Jewish Home leader, Naftali Bennett issued a response on his Facebook page accusing Likud-Beytenu of boycotting Jewish Home before accusing Jewish Home of doing the same to ultra-Orthodox parties. He said: “The message from the Likud was simple: At no price will religious Zionism [Jewish Home] be in the government. Forget about it. While the prime minister met twice with Lapid, with [Hatnua chairwoman] Tzipi Livni, with [Labor leader] Shelly [Yacimovich], with [Kadima leader Shaul] Mofaz, and even with [Meretz leader] Zehava Gal-On, only religious Zionism [Jewish Home] was boycotted. Likud said they want a government with the Left and haredim, explaining that they can’t have peace talks with the Jewish Home in the coalition,” he said. “In the days immediately following the elections, Likud refused to speak with the Jewish Home,” said Bennett. “They excluded us. We knew if we sat quietly we would be in the opposition. I spoke with Yair Lapid and we agreed that Yesh Atid would not enter the government without the Jewish Home and that the Jewish Home would not enter the government without Yesh Atid. We don’t boycott any parties,” he said.

The alliance between Yesh Atid and Jewish Home got an endorsement from from four Religious Zionist rabbis who support the West Bank settlers. The statement said: “We support the way you’re taking in order to save the world of the Torah and the settlement of the land of Israel by cooperating with Yair Lapid and his party.”

Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid, also criticized the political tactics of the ultra-Orthodox parties on his Facebook page by writing that they do not accept the rules of the democratic process. “No one likes to lose, but everyone accepts the basic idea that sometimes you’re in the coalition, and sometimes in the opposition,” he explained, adding that if Yesh Atid ends up in the opposition, they will go proudly, without feeling that someone hates or rejects them. Furthermore,
Lapid pointed out that no matter what ideology won the last election – “Left, Right, socialist, capitalist, two-state solution or whole Land of Israel” – the ultra- Orthodox are always willing to be in the coalition.

“Did someone change the law and didn’t tell us? Can a government be formed with the Likud, without Labor, without Kadima, without Meretz, without Arab parties, without any party at all, but the ultra-Orthodox parties always have to be in the government, otherwise you’re boycotting and rejecting them? What kind of strange democracy is that? The obvious conclusion is that no tragedy will happen if, in the next term, they sit in the opposition.”

“Moreover, I think that our world would be more meager without Torah study. This doesn’t mean they cannot work or enlist in the army, but Torah studies are one of the basic principles of ‘Israeliness’ and we have no Jewish existence without it.”  Lapid said that it is his task to return Israeli society’s focus to issues like education, aid to small businesses, lowering hosing prices and the cost of living. “In other words, instead of enhancing the power of sectors, we must assist Israel’s middle class, which is collapsing as a result of the need to subsidize all the others.”

While Netanyahu originally tried to cause either Jewish Home or Yesh Atid to join his government independently of each other, Likud negotiators met with senior officials this week and concluded that the partnership between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid was solid and Netanyahu would not be able to break their alliance. As a result, Netanyahu began to realize that he will either have to have Jewish Home and Yesh Atid in his government together or choose to have a government with the ultra-Orthodox. Therefore, Netanyahu notified the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party, Shas, that they most likely will not be in the government. Shas tried to convince Netanyahu to try to form a government with the ultra-Orthodox parties along with the Labor party of Shelly Yacimovich, It was reported that in the last few weeks that Netanyahu did offer the Labor party the government ministries of Finance and Industry, Trade and Labor but Labor rejected the offer. A Labor official described the pressure exerted on them to join the coalition as being “unprecedented.”

Shas leaders said unless there is a “dramatic breakthrough” in the next few days, Shas will not be a part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘s new government. If Shas is indeed excluded from the coalition, it would be only the second time in 30 years.

Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, a leader of ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews representing United Torah Judaism made harsh comments regarding the issue of ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students serving in the Israeli army calling on ultra-Orthodox Jews to “stand guard without any changes, because this is one of the fundamentals of the faith, in the category of  (a commandment one must obey even at the cost of their own life).” Meanwhile, United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni said that his party was switching allegiances. “Until now we agreed to joining together only with right wing parties, but that is over. Now we will be working with [the Labor party of] Shelly Yechimovich.”

Two popular ultra-Orthodox radio commentators called on the ultra-Orthodox to take “revenge” on religious Zionism by boycotting settlement products. One of them, Avi Bloom, said that the support of the settlements is inconsistent with Jewish law. Another commentator, Yaakov Rivlin, added “It’s time to end all these relations with the real estate dealers in the West Bank territories.”

In the last couple of days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made considerable progress in talks to form a new government which will have a coalition of 70.  The coalition, set to be finalized early next week, will comprise Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu (31 seats), Yesh Atid (19), Jewish Home (12), Hatnua (6) and Kadima (2). Labor would lead the opposition along with the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism.

In order to reach a final deal, compromises are being made. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who had hoped to become foreign minister, will become finance minister. Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett will become minister of trade and industry. The Foreign Ministry post will be kept open for former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who resigned in December to fight corruption charges and hopes to return quickly to the post after clearing his name. The defense minister is likely to be former IDF chief of the General Staff Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), housing could well go to Jewish Home’s Uri Ariel, while the same party’s Eli Ben Dahan could take religious affairs, and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz could become minister of welfare. Yesh Atid would also receive at least four ministerial positions in addition to finance, including the Education Ministry, which MK Rabbi Shai Piron would likely head.

The emerging compromise on ultra-Orthodox military service will see 1,500-2,000 scholars exempted from service each year — a far higher number than the 400 cap Yesh Atid had sought. Ultra-Orthodox men will be called for service at age 22, not 18, in another reported compromise.

Yesh Atid showed readiness to be more flexible on the number of ministries, accepting a drop from 30 to 23, or 24 after Liberman’s return, instead of the party’s campaign promise of 18. However, a law will be passed within a month of the government being sworn in that there can only be up to 18 ministers, starting from after the next election.

According to Israel Radio, the various cabinet posts would be filled by eight ministers from Likud, six from Yesh Atid, four from Jewish Home, three from Yisrael Beytenu, two from Hatnua, and one from Kadima. Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua, with six seats, is the only party to date to have signed with Likud-Beytenu. In addition to the position of justice minister, Livni was promised the right to lead peace talks with the Palestinians

In meetings with Jewish Home, Likud negotiators have agreed that any peace agreement with the Palestinians will be brought to a national referendum before being ratified by the Knesset. In addition, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s June 2009 Bar-Ilan speech, in which he called for the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state, will not be mentioned in the coalition’s guidelines.

If Netanyahu cannot form a new government, new elections will be held. If new elections are held, poll results are showing that Yesh Atid would become the largest party in Israel increasing their seats from 19 to 29. If this were to happen, Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid, would become the next Prime Minister of Israel. Jewish Home would increase from 12 seats to 18. Likud would fall from 31 to 23. Labor, Shas and Tzipi Livni would lose seats and Kadima would no longer be in the government. At the moment, new elections seem unlikely as Netanyahu is expected to present his coalition to Israel President Shimon Peres when the president returns on Wednesday from his current trip to Europe, and to have it sworn in at the Knesset on either Wednesday or Thursday.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Peres Grants Netanyahu 14-Day Extension
2) Netanyahu: I won’t accept Bennett-Lapid boycott of haredim
3) MK Strook: Likud Mudslinging Continues
4) Bennett: Likud Refused to Speak with Us
5) Mediator Tells Likud: Bennett, Lapid Inseparable
6) MK Shaked: Alliance with Lapid Rock Solid
7) Netanyahu begins talks for haredi-free government
8.) PM to Shas: You can’t be in coalition over Bennett
9) Lapid: Not calamitous if haredim sit in opposition
10) Haredi leaders hit out against Bennett, Lapid
11) Rabbi Auerback: Army Service Means Eradication of Judaism
12) Shas headed to opposition; ‘it’s a done deal’
13) Hareidi MKs: We’re Now on the Left
14) Ultra-Orthodox pundits urge boycott of settlement products
15) Yesh Atid: Coalition talks are ‘in crisis’
16) Lapid, Bennett, Mofaz form 33-MK bloc to pressure PM
17) Netanyahu aims to present coalition to Peres next Wednesday
18) Report: Lapid Will Replace Yishai
19) Coalition deal to require peace treaty referendum
20) 70-strong Israeli coalition nearing completion
21) Poll: Likud Would Lose Repeat Vote

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had a meeting in Saudi Arabia with US Secretary of State John Kerry where they discussed the peace process. Abbas wants the United States to put pressure on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and freeze construction of Jewish homes in the West Bank. Unless the United States is willing to do this, the Palestinians say that they will not resume peace talks with Israel.

Meanwhile Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a surprise visit with King Abdullah of Jordan last week regarding the peace process. However, no details were released about the results of the meeting. Netanyahu did announce that he would suspend all Jewish housing construction for one month in contested areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank so not to embarrass Obama when he visits Israel. However, Netanyahu emphasized that this was not a building freeze but rather a temporary suspension because of Obama’s visit.

Obama had a meeting at the White House with Jewish leaders regarding his trip to Israel later this month. There was conflicting information released from the meeting. Israel’s Channel 10 reported that Obama planned to present a “general framework” for starting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks during his visit but not a “comprehensive peace plan”. However, he told Jewish leaders to not rule out him doing so within six to twelve months. According to Channel 10, Obama told the Jewish leaders he intended to speak to the Israelis about peace with the Palestinians and would make clear that “wanting peace is not enough.” He would be asking Israel “which tough steps it will be willing to take,” the TV report said. The president’s remarks to the senior Jewish leaders were not supposed to have been made public.

According to Senior Obama officials, “The president reiterated America’s unshakeable support for Israel and thanked the leaders for the role they play in strengthening ties between the two nations. The president noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue, but is rather an opportunity to consult with the Israeli government about a broad range of issues – including Iran, Syria, the situation in the region, and the peace process. He also underscored that the trip is an opportunity for him to speak directly to the Israeli people about the history, interests, and values that we share.” The officials denied that Obama will be presenting a “general framework” to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to a report by the World Tribune, U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded that Israel provide a detailed timetable for withdrawing from the West Bank. Israel sources said that “Obama has made it clear to Netanyahu that his visit is not about photo-ops, but the business of Iran and a Palestinian state. The implication is that if Israel won’t give him something he can work with, then he’ll act on his own.” The source said that the Israeli plan would be considered in what could be an imminent U.S. initiative to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering the possibility of approving a “meaningful package of gestures” toward the Palestinian Authority in advance of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel which included ceding some land to the Palestinians based upon recommendations from the “defense establishment” that would not endanger Netanyahu politically within Israel. One of the “gestures” is the transfer of some areas that are currently under full Israeli control (Area C) to full Arab control (Area A). These territories would include access roads to the new PA city of Rawabi and another road that leads to the Tul Karm industrial area.

Finally, the leader of the Labor political party, MK Shelly Yechimovich, said that if Israel was able to make a peace agreement with the Palestinians that her party would join the government to support the peace agreement if Jewish Home threatened to topple Netanyahu’s government by not supporting a possible peace agreement.

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) ‘Abbas to Kerry: Push Israel for settlement freeze’
2) Palestinian leadership not to revive peace talks before Obama’s visit: official
3) Report: Netanyahu, King Abdullah discuss Mideast peace
4) Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu suspends housing settlements ahead of Obama’s visit
5) ‘Obama won’t bring peace plan or even general framework’ to Israel
6) Obama plans to extract timetable for Israeli pullout from West Bank
7) Netanyahu Reportedly Mulling Ceding Land to PA
8) Labor Head: We’ll Save Govt in Case of Peace Talks

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l