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
US Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a $4-billion economic plan for the Palestinian territories which would be overseen by former British prime minister Tony Blair. The goal of the plan is to grow the Palestinian economy by up 50 percent in the next three years, cut unemployment by almost two-thirds and raise average wages by 40 percent. However, Kerry stressed, the success of the plan depends on parallel progress with regard to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Kerry also discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and top peace negotiator Justice Minister Tzipi Livni a package of proposals for restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. PA officials said that Kerry hasn’t presented them with details of his initiative for resuming the peace process. The details of the plan hasn’t been released to the public. However, Kerry is expected to do so the first part of June. Nevertheless, sources reveal that Kerry is asking Israel to make concessions to restart the peace talks which include permitting the Palestinians to build in Jericho for their prospective state an international airport for direct civilian flights to and from America and Europe. Those flights would cross Israeli air space and be coordinated with Israeli flight control authorities. While Palestinian authorities would be in charge of security at the future Jericho airport, Israel would maintain control of passengers and freight traffic by means of computer and surveillance camera networks. Kerry also wants Israel to hand over to the Palestinians the Kalia region on the northern shore of the Dead Sea. This would be the first in a series of land and sovereignty handovers granted the Palestinians in trilateral negotiations among Israel, the Palestinians and the United States.
Palestinians remained skeptical of both Kerry’s economic and diplomatic efforts. A senior Fatah official criticized Kerry’s talk about economic prosperity for the Palestinians. “We have to be clear that we don’t want this economic peace. We are not animals that only want food. We are a people struggling for freedom.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s economic adviser, Mohammad Mustafa, said ”The Palestinian leadership will not offer political concessions in exchange for economic benefits. We will not accept that the economy is the primary and sole component.” Mustafa said the PA’s priorities are not economic but rather a political framework for the creation of Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, that also ensures the rights of refugees.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat said, “I don’t think there is anything called economic peace or security peace or political peace. These are intertwined elements. The Palestinians will only agree to resume peace negotiations if Israel freezes settlement construction and declares that the pre-1967 lines would be the starting point for negotiations. Furthermore, Kerry is still not prepared to present a new US peace initiative.” Erekat further said: “The question now is whether Kerry will be able to persuade Netanyahu to accept the two-state solution on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.” Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said, “Kerry won’t succeed in rekindling peace talks unless he pressures Israel to halt settlement activity and accept a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.”
This is not the first time that the Americans or the Europeans try playing the economic card in an effort to get the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel. Billions of dollars that were given to the Palestinians over the past two decades have not had a moderating effect on any Palestinian. The Americans and Europeans are clearly not listening to what the Palestinians are telling them: that dollars and euros will not change the hearts and minds of the people. This does not mean, of course, that the Palestinians will refuse what they are being offered. They will take the money, but at the end of the day, they will continue to stick to their demands, including the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
Regarding his approach to the peace process, Kerry told Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum held in Amman, Jordan, “Our hope is that the leaders in both Israel and the Palestinian Authority will find a way to compromise. It’s really a question of whether Israel and the Palestinians are willing to make the hard choices for peace.”
Israel top peace negotiator Tzipi Livni said that the international community, especially Europe, must pressure Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to directly negotiate with Israel. “It’s the only way to have negotiations,” she said. “Israel’s position has been that talks should be resumed without pre-conditions. If the Palestinians insist on imposing conditions on the resumption of talks then Israeli will similarly present them with its demands.” Although Livni could not give details of her conversations with Kerry about the resumption of talks, she did say that the Palestinians would prefer to see a map of how Israel envisions the borders of its state before talks begin. They also do not want a phased agreement or temporary borders, she said. But broadly speaking, Israel believes that Palestinian refugees should be absorbed by the Palestinians and not Israel. It also wants to retain the settlement blocs. Also, any agreement must address Israel’s security concerns. Finally, she warned that Hamas cannot be a partner to the talks. Israel must work with the international community to delegitimize Hamas, Livni said.
Yuval Steinitz, a senior cabinet minister said that the Israeli government supports the two states for two peoples solution to resolve the Palestinian / Israel conflict. Israel is ready to make painful concessions on two conditions: that there will be peace and security, he said. Genuine peace would entail a “real recognition” of Israel as a Jewish state and the end of all claims and incitement against Israel. Israel’s security requirements include a “total demilitarization” of a future Palestinian state. Israel would have the right to supervise and control that arrangement in order to be able to prevent arms smuggling or “any other negative security developments in the West Bank,” he said. Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is prepared to compromises for genuine peace but it’s not reciprocated by the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas said that he is under intense international pressure to return to negotiations with Israel and drop demands for a Jewish settlement freeze in the West Bank.
Israel had approved tenders for the construction of 300 new homes in Jerusalem and plans to build more housing units beyond the “Green Line” which is the pre-1967 borders. In response to this, the US said, “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement construction, which undermines efforts to achieve peace and are contrary to the obligations that Israel undertook upon itself. It is the President Obama’s opinion that Israel should recognize that the settlement policy is not conducive to achieving peace and hampers the Palestinians chances of establishing a state on sustainable borders. In our opinion, the two sides must take confidence-building measures which will make it possible to resume negotiations.” Palestinian chief negotiator, Saab Erekat said, “The Palestinians consider the recent decision of the Israeli government to build a thousand homes in east Jerusalem as effectively destroying the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry the past 2 months to resume Palestinian / Israel direct peace talks.
Because of these developments, British foreign secretary, William Hague, has warned of the risks of failure of the US-sponsored mission to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, suggesting that it was the last attempt possible at reaching a two-state solution to the conflict and there was no realistic “plan B”. Hague said that Kerry’s drive to restart talks was “a moment of opportunity that won’t easily come round again.” He later repeated the point: “If this doesn’t work, there is not going to be another moment in American diplomacy that is more committed and energetic to bring about negotiations. So it’s very important – in weeks, not months – to make the most of this opportunity. The two-state solution is slipping away, it doesn’t have much longer to go. We never like to say it’s the last attempt at anything, but we’re getting near the last attempt at this,” Hague said. “It is vital for all sides to make the necessary compromises for negotiations towards [a two-state solution] to succeed.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry has just concluded two months of talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. During that time, he met privately and spoke on the phone with each of them at least 10 times. When Kerry finished his recent conversations with Netanyahu and Abbas in the past week, he indicated that he wants an answer with one to two weeks whether Netanyahu and Abbas will agree on the parameters to restart direct peace talks. Kerry said that Netanyahu and Abbas needs time to think about “the hard decisions that need to be made.” Kerry said: “We need to allow folks to make their decisions within a reasonable framework in the next days ahead.”
Because based upon the information that we have been given, what would a Kerry proposal to restart direct peace talks look like? In the past two months, Kerry has suggested the following:
Israel and the Palestinians will renew direct talks without preconditions. During the talks, the parties will refrain from provocative statements or actions, which Kerry said “take us backwards.” That is, the Palestinians will avoid incitement against Israel, while Israel will stay away from moves like massive construction in the settlement, legalizing outposts or demolishing Palestinian homes. Negotiations will be held first of all on the borders of the future Palestinian state and the security arrangements Israel requires. The guiding principle of the talks, Kerry said, will be to integrate Israeli demands with Palestinian demands – “along the 1967 lines with swaps and recognizing changes that have taken place on the ground” – in other words, the large settlement blocks. Kerry stressed that he does not want the issue of construction in the settlements to become a precondition that will prevent the resumption of talks, “…because if you can negotiate borders, and if you negotiate security and get to a final settlement, you have resolved the issue of settlements themselves.” The way to resolve the issue, Kerry said, “is by deciding what is in the Palestinian state and what are the rules there and what is Israel and what are the rules there.” However, Kerry did make clear to Netanyahu that he expects to see Israel “take steps that indicate a willingness to try to move forward.” Kerry did not demand a full freeze on construction in the settlements, including private construction. But he does expect Netanyahu to show restraint that would manifest itself in stopping government tenders. With regard to construction in the settlements, Kerry said: “We believe they should stop,” and said that such actions “are not necessarily constructive with respect to the process.”
Regarding Israeli domestic issues, the election and coalition debate regarding how ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students will be drafted in the Israeli military is being considered to be put into Israeli law. According to the draft proposal, 18-year-old yeshiva students engaged in full-time Torah study would be allowed to defer service until age 21, at which point they would have to choose either to enlist in the IDF or register for national or civil service. Those who defer their service would have to be registered at yeshivas whose student bodies are subject to regular government auditing. Yeshivas that receive state funding and register their students for service deferment would also be required to introduce vocational training into their curriculum. The bill allows for 1,800 top Torah scholars to be entirely exempted from service per year, far below the estimated 7,000-8,000 ultra-Orthodox 18-year-olds who do not currently register each year. Most of the changes would roll out in 2016, including the criminal prosecution of individuals who do not register for the draft, allowing for a transitional period in which to build up the bureaucratic and logistical infrastructure needed to implement the changes.
The Peri Committee approved a proposal to extend the transition period for implementation of the draft law by another year – in place of the three years initially proposed, to four years under an agreement between the political parites of Yesh Atid and Likud. A clause in the bill imposing criminal sanctions on draft dodgers including yeshiva students was passed so that “The status of the ultra-Orthodox draft dodger will be the same as that of the secular draft dodger.” Furthermore, Yair Lapid, the leader of the political party, Yesh Atid, said, “We will not sit in a government not willing to move on the issue of an equal share of burden. There is an historic opportunity to right an historic wrong. There will be an equal burden, or this government will fall to pieces. Not wanting to risk the collapse of the Israel government and a call for new elections, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon not to hinder the ultra-Orthodox conscription bill drafted by the Peri Committee, essentially ending a crisis that briefly threatened to collapse the current government.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Kerry proposes $4-billion economic plan to boost Palestinians
2) Kerry wants major Israeli concessions for Palestinians, including sovereign northern Dead Sea coast
3) Kerry holds surprise meetings with Abbas, Livni in Amman
4) Abbas, Peres meet at World Economic Forum in Jordan
5) Palestinians reject Kerry’s new focus on boosting their economy
6) Palestinians: Kerry Trying to Bribe Us to “Sell Out”
7) John Kerry urges Israel and the Palestinians ‘to make the necessary compromises’
8.) PA negotiator: Kerry’s chances slim to revive peace process
9) Palestinian negotiator: No talks unless Israel accepts ’67 lines, freezes settlements
10) Livni: Abbas must be pressured to negotiate
11) ‘This government is in favor of two states for two people’
12) PM: Prepared to compromise for peace, but not reciprocated
13) Palestinian leader under pressure to restart talks
14) Israel to Build in Jerusalem, U.S. Angry
15) Erekat: New ‘settler homes’ destroying Kerry’s efforts
16) Two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict slipping away, says Hague
17) Kerry’s gamble: A resounding first victory or political humiliation
18) Lapid appeals to haredi public
19) Lapid: Equal burden or government goes down
20) Crisis averted as Netanyahu tells Ya’alon to back down on draft bill
The European Union said that its member states will be able to send weapons to help the Syrian rebels seeking to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power. No specific EU country has any plans to send the Syrian rebels arms now but British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the decision “sends a very strong message from Europe to the Assad regime.”
Meanwhile Russia said it has the right to provide Syria with state-of-the-art air defense missiles. Russia has a contract to supply Syria with the long-range S-300 missile. The S-300 has a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and the capability to track down and strike multiple targets simultaneously. Russia said that it isn’t going to abandon the deal despite strong Western and Israeli criticism for wanting to supply Syria with this weapon because the S-300 will be a deterrent against foreign intervention in the country.
Finally, Syrian President Assad said that there was “popular pressure” to open a military front against Israel on the Golan Heights, and warned his country would bomb Israel if it attacks Syria again. Assad said: “This is a political-ideological matter that will eventually turn into a military one because of repeated Israeli aggression. The next time Israel attacks, if it attacks, we will have a strategic response. A bombing against a bombing.” Asked what kind of weapons would be used against Israel, Assad said, “There are things that will be determined in the proper date and time. We have informed all of the elements that contacted us that in the next times we will respond.”
A war with Syria where Damascus is destroyed (Isaiah 17) is a tribulation event.
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