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
Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to restart direct peace talks. The United States administration gave the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams letters of assurance which outlined the U.S. position regarding the peace talks, their parameters and their goals, in order to facilitate the renewal of peace talks, a senior Israeli official said. A senior Palestinian official said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume peace talks with Israel only after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave him a letter guaranteeing that the basis of the negotiations will be Israel’s pre-1967 borders. In the letters, the U.S. made clear to Israel that the U.S. position is that the future borders will not be identical to the 1967 lines but include changes in accordance to the reality on the ground. In addition, the letter to Israel included an American declaration stating Israel is a Jewish state and that the U.S. position is that the Palestinian refugees should return to the future Palestinian state. The full content of the letters are classified and will not be revealed to the public.
However, a top Palestinian negotiator revealed parts of Kerry’s proposed outline for a Palestinian state as presented orally to Israel and the PA. Regarding Jerusalem, Kerry’s plan is to rehash what is known as the Clinton parameters. That formula, pushed by President Bill Clinton during the Camp David talks in 2000, called for Jewish areas of Jerusalem to remain Israeli while the Palestinians would get sovereignty over neighborhoods that are largely Arab. Most Arab sections are located in eastern Jerusalem. For the strategic Jordan Valley, Obama’s proposal calls for international forces to maintain security control along with unarmed Palestinian police forces, the PA negotiator said. Israel will retain security posts in some strategic areas of the Jordan Valley. When it comes to the West Bank, Kerry’s plan is that Israel is expected to evacuate about 90 percent of its Jewish communities currently located in the territory. Israel would retain strategic security posts along with the West Bank’s main blocs, Maale Adumin, Ariel and Gush Etzion. In return, Obama is calling for an exchange of territory with the Palestinians in other locations inside Israel, with discussion being open for the Palestinians to possibly receive land in the Israeli Negev in the country’s south.
Furthermore, U.S. President Barack Obama promised Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to take action “in the coming months” regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, in exchange for Israel’s agreement to renew “peace talks” with the Palestinian Authority (PA), an Israeli security official said. The official said, however, that Obama did not reach a specific agreement with Netanyahu, but gave only a general commitment In addition, the Obama administration has presented a plan in which the Palestinian Authority and Jordan will receive sovereignty over the Temple Mount while Israel will retain the land below the Western Wall according to a senior PA negotiator. However, Israel has not agreed to the U.S. plan over the Temple Mount, with details still open for discussion, stated the PA negotiator. Finally, in a further enticement to the Palestinians, US President Obama ordered another waiver of congressional restrictions on direct funding of the Palestinian Authority due to the “national security interests” of the U.S. As a result, the Palestinians will receive $148 million for the purpose of “helping the PA maintain and build the foundations of a viable, peaceful Palestinian state.”
The Israel / Palestinian negotiating teams initiated talks over the traditional Muslim Iftar dinner which breaks the month long fast of Ramadan. The event was hosted at the US State Department building by US Secretary of State, John Kerry. The kick-off meeting was primarily intended to agree on a framework and schedule for future talks. The next meeting is scheduled to be held in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel on August 14. Following that will be a meeting in Jericho. Both sides have set a goal of nine-months to complete final status negotiations. However, this is not a deadline. Regarding the nine-month period of negotiations, Israel’s Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said: “All the relevant sides have a vested interest in an agreement. If [the talks] are serious and we’re at the eighth month and we find that we need more time, then of course we will carry on talking. If after a month, we see it’s not serious, then why carry on talking for the next eight?”, she said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry Kerry said both sides agreed that the only solution to the conflict is the implementation of a two-state solution based upon the principles of peace, security and mutual recognition. Kerry said that all final status issues will be on the table for the talks including – the borders of the Palestinian state, security arrangements required by Israel, refugees, settlements and water. He reiterated the need for both sides to make “reasonable compromises” to achieve a peace agreement. However, a senior State Department official said that neither the Palestinian nor Israeli sides had agreed to President Obama’s basic formulation from a major speech in 2011, when he announced that the basis for negotiations should be Israel’s de facto border before 1967—with land swaps. “It would not be safe to say the parties have accepted that position,” the senior official said. In any event, Kerry used the initial meeting to put hard questions before the Israeli and Palestinian leaders while pushing for answers on borders, security, the Jordan Rift Valley and Jerusalem. They included the following:
1) Would Israel adopt the security arrangements-versus-borders formula conceded by his predecessor Ehud Olmert to President Obama and Abbas in early 2009, in which he offered to cede around 94.6 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians? Although the Palestinians never accepted the offer, they are now trying to make it the starting-point of the current round of talks. If Netanyahu rejected this, Kerry asked what alternative he had in mind in terms of territory he is prepared to cede on the West Bank – bearing in mind that Jewish settlements stand on app. 9.8 percent of the West Bank (not counting Jerusalem). In this way, the US Secretary quietly launched final-status negotiations on future borders
2) Kerry also asked Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu what he believes should be the scope and depth of Israel’s proposed withdrawal when he insisted that Israel must retain a security presence on the Jordan Rift Valley which marks part of Israel’s eastern border. Kerry wanted to know if Jewish communities would be removed and whether only a military presence would be left in their place. This question jumped the process fast forward to the interrelations between security measures and the final borders between the Israeli and Palestinian states.
3) A question Kerry asked of both Netanyahu and Abbas related to the deployment of an international force as a buffer between the Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces. Netanyahu was open to discussing this plan. Abbas gave his answer when he visited Cairo, Egypt saying that “not a single Israeli must remain in the Palestinian state, whether soldier or civilian.” He indicated that he would not object to an international force on the lines of UNIFIL in Lebanon or the Multinational Force in Sinai or even NATO units.
4) Abbas asked Kerry to put forward ideas on the final status of Jerusalem and the shape of the Palestinian state’s borders.
Of special importance regarding the talks is that Kerry said that they were be kept private and that he is the only one authorized to make any public comments to the press on the status and outcome of each round of talks.
In order to help to jump start talks, Israel has agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners held prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords for murder of Israelis. They will be released in four stages. The first 26 prisoners will be released on August 13. The Palestinian Authority slammed remarks by an Israeli minister who said these Palestinian prisoners are “terrorists.” “Terrorists are those who occupy the lands of another people and displace them by force and settle in their place. Palestinian prisoners are strugglers for their freedom and not terrorists,” the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
In the event of a peace agreement, the Israeli cabinet approved the draft of a bill mandating a national referendum if a peace agreement with the Palestinians is reached that necessitates withdrawals from part of Jerusalem or land swaps. The bill, which is to be a basic law, will essentially say that any change in the status of territories where Israeli law applies will have to be brought before the country in the form of a referendum after the move passes the government and the Knesset. The bill has passed its first reading. The coalition does not plan vote on the second and third (final) before the summer recess. As a result, the national referendum cannot become law until at least October.
Regarding the Palestinian position for the talks, Mahmood Abbas said that no Israeli settlers or border forces could remain in a future Palestinian state and that Palestinians deem illegal all Jewish settlement building within the land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. “In a final solution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands,” Abbas said in Egypt. Abbas said he stood by understandings he said he reached with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that NATO forces could deploy there “as a security guarantee to us and them.” “An international, multinational presence like in Sinai, Lebanon and Syria – we are with that,” he said, referring to United Nations peacekeeping operations in those places. On the future of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem – among the most contentious issues facing the two sides – Abbas gave no sign of any softening of his stance. “We’ve already made all the necessary concessions,” he said. “East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine … if there were and must be some kind of small exchange (of land) equal in size and value, we are ready to discuss this – no more, no less,” he said. Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash stated that the political peace process is just a means of a greater plan to defeat Israel. In a sermon delivered in the presence of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV, Al-Habbash compared the US-driven peace negotiations to the Hudaybiyyah Peace Treaty concluded between Islam’s prophet Mohammed and the Quraish tribe of Mecca. Peace talks with Israel at this time are “the right path, which leads to achievement, exactly like the Prophet [Mohammed] did in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah,” Al-Habbash stated. Two years after signing the treaty, Mohammed’s forces had gained enough strength and he launched the brutal conquest of Mecca. “This is the example and this is the model” that the Palestinian leadership is following, Al-Habbash acknowledged. All Palestinian factions belonging to the PLO with the exception of Fatah, the sect of Mahmood Abbas, reject peace talks with Israel. One of the factions, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said that talks’ resumption was a unilateral move by Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas which did not have the backing of the PLO as a whole. “The PFLP is against a return to negotiations,” said one of the party’s leaders, Khaleda Jarar. A Palestinian oversight committee is meant to advise the Palestinian negotiating team throughout the talks with Israel and will likely include Abbas’s close circle of officials and negotiators. “[The committee] will be a formality, because it will only representing those conducting the negotiations,” a Palestinian official said.
Israel’s deputy foreign minister Zeev Elkin said that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was prepared to give 86% of the West Bank to the Palestinians in any peace agreement. However, Elkin said that Netanyahu would not agree to divide Jerusalem. However, he said that Israel chief negotiator Tzipi Livni would agree to divide Jerusalem.
Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk has been appointed as US envoy for Mideast peace and the top American negotiator for Israel / Palestinian peace talks. He promised that he would work “to achieve President Obama’s vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.” He will be in Israel for the next round of peace talks scheduled for August 14.
A dramatic new directive was published by the European Union which prevents its 28 members from all cooperation with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The directive extends to “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It also requires that any contracts between EU member countries and Israel henceforth include a clause stating that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are not part of the State of Israel. This new directive, was initiated in December by the EU foreign ministers, is “in conformity with the EU’s longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law,” the EU said in a statement. At the meeting, the EU foreign ministers document stated that “all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
Israel Prime Minister rejects the EU directive and says that hit harms the peace process. “It hardens the Palestinian positions, it causes Israelis to loose confidence in the impartiality of Europe,” he said. “I think for years the Europeans have been whining about the fact that the Americans are not involved enough, now that they are involved this action actually undermines the American effort. It undermines the negotiations.” Furthermore, Netanyahu said: “Israel will not accept any foreign dictates about our borders. This matter will only be determined through direct negotiation between the [two] sides” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he stated.
In response, Andreas Reinicke, the European Union special envoy for the Middle East peace process, reaffirmed the position of the EU Foreign Ministers saying: “The fact that any agreement between the EU and Israeli recipients must state their inapplicability to territories outside the 1967 lines by no means preempts the outcome of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Prime Minister Netanyahu is correct when he says that the borders between Israel and Palestine will not be imposed from outside but that they will determined by both parties,” Reinicke said. “That’s also our position. If there will be an agreement, our definition of Israel’s territory will change. Until that moment — and that is not only the position of the EU but that of the entire international community except Israel – [Israeli sovereignty of territories beyond the 1967 lines] is not recognized.”“The guidelines will take effect as they are. This is how they were published [in the EU’s Official Journal], as a legal act, and that’s how it will be. In certain areas where the guidelines are still unclear, “a closer look” at the details might be have to be taken, he said but their main points will not be changed and will take effect by January 2014 as planned.
Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon instructed troops to halt cooperation with EU representatives in the West Bank and Gaza. In the wake of the new EU guidelines, the Israeli government has also decided that Israel will not sign additional agreements with the European Uniont and will not participate in a multibillion-dollar scientific cooperation program under EU auspices called Horizon 2020.
A senior Palestinian negotiator said that the Obama administration was working behind the scenes in tandem with the European Union’s boycott of Israeli settlements and that these EU guidelines were published in full coordination with Secretary of State John Kerry. “Without the U.S. support, the EU wouldn’t have taken such measures,” the negotiator said. The negotiator further claimed that if Israel does not collaborate with the current round of Palestinian talks being brokered by Kerry, the EU financial sanctions could become tougher. The threat has been communicated to Israeli officials, according to the Palestinian negotiator. Possible further boycotts being considered, the negotiator stated, include an official statement from EU that settlements are illegal; a full financial boycott; and sanctions on all trade, universities and Jewish entities in the settlements. Another possibility is an EU dictate requiring special visas for settlers. On the other hand, if Israel goes along with Kerry’s peace plan, the EU will reconsider its current and future settlement boycott, the Palestinian negotiator stated.
The Council of Jewish Communities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip said that the Israeli government should ban European Union funded projects in Area C of the West Bank (this is area under Israel control) until it rescinds its ban on providing funding and grants to Israeli projects over the pre-1967 lines. “All European projects [for Palestinians] in Judea and Samaria [Wet Bank] should be stopped until this unilateral decision is rescinded,” the council said.
Meanwhile, a US federal appeals court invalidated a law that was designed to allow American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel on their passports as their birthplace. While Israel calls Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital, few other countries accept that status. Most, including the US, have their embassies to Israel in Tel Aviv.
While continuing peace talks with the Palestinians, Israel has given preliminary approval for the construction of more than 800 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank land. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the US has taken up the issue with the Israelis. Furthermore, she said that “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity and opposes any efforts to legitimize settlement outposts.”
Finally, the leadership within Samaria in the West Bank area of Samaria has established its own Foreign Ministry Department. Over the past months, Samarian leaders Gershon Mesika and Yossi Dagan have led a number of diplomatic delegations meeting with European officials in Brussels, Berlin, Stockholm, London and Paris. For the first time ever, leaders in those countries have had opportunities to hear directly from the leaders of the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria (aka “the West Bank settlements”) and learn their side of the story that has drawn so much extended attention in the international political arena.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Kerry: Israel, Palestinians agree to hold sustained talks on all issues
2) Israelis, Palestinians agree to 9-month timeline for negotiations
3) Palestinian prisoner release passes cabinet by wide 13-7 margin
4) First 26 pre-Oslo prisoners to go free on August 13, PA says
5) PA ministry: Palestinian prisoners are not terrorists
6) Israeli-Palestinian peace talks kick off with Iftar dinner at State Department
7) Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks: Neither Side Has Yet Agreed to Much
8.) Kerry in secret final-status talks with Netanyahu and Abbas on borders, security, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley
9) Palestinians: U.S. says 1967 lines basis for talks
10) U.S. gave Israel, Palestinians letters of assurance in order to renew talks
11) Obama Made Secret Promises to Israel, Palestinians Over Peace Talks
12) Obama: Action on Iran in Return for Peace Talks
13) ‘Secret Obama plan’ forfeits Temple Mount to Palestinians
14) Obama again waives ban on Palestinian aid
15) Palestinian president wants no Israeli in future state
16) Abbas pledges: There will be no Israelis in Palestine
17) PA minister: New peace talks will help us conquer Israel later
18) Palestinian party rejects Mideast peace talks
19) PM would give up 86% of West Bank, says deputy FM
20) Martin Indyk is new US envoy for Israeli-Palestinian talks
21) US peace envoy to come to Israel next week
22) New EU directive bars all dealings with Israeli-held areas over the pre-1967 lines
23) ‘We will not accept any external dictats regarding our borders’
24) Netanyahu lashes out at EU, rejects ‘foreign dictates about borders’
25) EU, Israel headed for showdown over settlement rules
26) PM: Israel will not sign additional agreements with EU
27) Kerry ‘using Europeans to blackmail Israel’
28) Obama ‘pushed boycott of Jerusalem, biblical territories’
29) US court: No ‘Israel’ on passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem
30) Settler leaders: Israel should ban EU projects in Area C
31) Israel gives preliminary approval for 800 new settler homes
32) US says peace talks to resume Aug. 14, settlement activity ‘unacceptable’
33) Samaria Establishes Its Own Foreign Ministry
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