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 the Israel / PLO peace process
In a recent speech, US President Barack Obama called on Israel and the Palestinians to accept a “framework agreement” which he said could be achieved within months without covering the full details of their dispute. The “framework agreement” would also omit the Gaza Strip and a provide for a transition period before an agreed upon final settlement. Israeli TV reports that the US wants Israel and the Palestinians to agree to a “framework” agreement by the end of January. US Secretary of State, John Kerry expanded on Obama’s statement by saying that a basic framework will “address all the core issues – borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition and an end of claims. And it will have to establish agreed guidelines for subsequent negotiations, which will spell out the details in a full-fledged peace treaty.” Obama said that there were not a lot of secrets and surprises during these rounds of direct peace talks and that “we know what the outline of a potential agreement is, and the question then becomes: Are both sides willing to take the very tough political risks involved if their bottom lines are met?” He defined the Palestinian bottom line as a “real and meaningful” state, and Israel’s bottom line as a secure, Jewish state. Obama also stated that a final and comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians must be reached within six months after a “framework agreement” in order to make it impossible for Iran to attain a nuclear bomb.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US is not seeking an interim peace deal. He said: “It is essential, in my judgment, to reach for a full agreement and to have a framework within which we can try to work for that.” The US State Department said: “Just to be absolutely clear, we are not focused on an interim deal, we are focused on a final deal. That is what both sides are discussing and both sides remain committed to and there should not be any confusion about what a framework reference is.” US Secretary of State John Kerry wants Israel and the Palestinians to agree to a “framework” peace agreement that will include all the main issues including security, the future of Jerusalem and the fate of refugees, which will serve as a broad outline for the final peace agreement. In order to agree on the details of a “framework” agreement, direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians would need to extend beyond April. The US “framework” proposal would focus on “bridging gaps” between Israel and the Palestinians on the core issues of the conflict and would be an arbitration plan which the US believes would be an acceptable compromise. Other US officials say that the US is not dictating the terms but rather trying to get the two sides to agree on what those terms should be.
In an effort to reach a goal of a framework peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of January, US Secretary of State, John Kerry discussed a plan to deploy a regional international peace force which would include US troops along Israel’s Jordan Valley. It is part of a US plan to combat the influence of Al Qaeda in the region. This regional force would secure parts of Syria, as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the future Palestinian state and Israel against Al Qaeda attack from positions in Syria, Iraq and the Egyptian Sinai. Kerry proposed integrating Israeli and Palestinian special forces units in the planned regional counter-terror force, alongside the American, British, French, Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian and Qatari units enlisted to the new framework. Kerry added that the US security plan he presented was the most thorough analysis ever “of the Israeli requirements that arise from the potential of a two-state solution” and that the US was working with Jordan and the Palestinians to “create a layered approach that both guarantees Israel’s security and fully respects Palestinian sovereignty.” In the US plan, Israel would keep a military presence in the Jordan Valley for a period of 10 years. Kerry said US General John Allen along with 160 US experts worked on the details of the plan. Much time has been spent by a US security team to “understand from an Israeli perspective what is required for the security of Israel” in a two-state scenario. Kerry added: “If Israel’s security cannot be increased through this agreement, it would be very difficult for Israel to make an agreement. So we are making certain that we are addressing each and every one of Israel’s security concerns. We understand that we can’t dictate to Israel what it needs for its security but what we have done is try to understand it and see through a consultative process if there are ways, through technology and additional ideas that we could potentially provide for,” he said.
The US plan would allow Israeli soldiers performing security functions in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. Jordan has been pushing the United States to support Israel’s position that it needs to maintain a security presence in the Jordan Valley under any agreement with the Palestinians. Other key elements of the US security plan provides for a series of border crossings along the Jordan Valley border between the West Bank and Jordan which would be jointly controlled by Israel and the PA. The entire border itself, however, would remain under full Israeli control, with the IDF joined only by a symbolic Palestinian security presence. These arrangements would hold for many years, but not necessarily permanently. Furthermore, the US would provide an additional security “envelope,” which would utilize drones and other high-tech equipment to provide real-time intelligence on any terrorist threats and other unlawful border activity. In addition to this, Kerry said that the Palestinian refugee situation must be resolved, a Palestinian state must be established and “recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people” must be achieved. The Palestinians rejected the US plan claiming it would allow Israelis to continue to live in the region and that Kerry’s security proposals “were very bad ideas which we cannot accept.” Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior official of the PLO , said that the US proposal for Israel’s security would lead to the “total failure” of peace talks. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s security must remain entirely in Israel’s hands. As a result, Israeli sources say that the security plan is “interesting” and “complex” but ultimately “not sufficient.”
Naftali Bennett, the leader of the conservative political party, Jewish Home, said the following: “Recently we’ve been hearing a new tune: an international guarantee will ‘safeguard Israel’s security’,” Bennett stated. “We are told that they found the answer to all of our security problems. We can evacuate the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. We can place cameras, lasers, helicopters, and especially – rely on international forces and the security guarantee of our friends. In 2006, at the end of the Second Lebanon War, the Security Council passed Resolution 1701, which prohibits the entry of all weapons into southern Lebanon. Result: Hezbollah has since smuggled in over 100,000 missiles into southern Lebanon.” “In 2006, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1696 that determined that Iran must stop all enrichment and may not build any additional centrifuges,” he continued. “Result: Since then, Iran has increased the amount of its centrifuges from only 164 to 18,500.” “Over a year ago, the President of the United States determined if Syria will use chemical weapons against its people that this would be crossing a red line which would lead to military action. Result: Syria has killed hundreds of residents with chemical weapons (no one is disputing that), and military action did not happen. This has happened dozens of times around the world. Guarantees are words, they are not actions,” he concluded. “We will continue to defend ourselves, by ourselves. It has worked not badly at all for the last 65 years.” Following the security plan, the United States plans in the next several weeks to reveal it views on the other core issues of the conflict namely — Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state, and Palestinian refugees.
Following the Palestinians stubborn refusal to accept the US plan for security arrangements in the Jordan Valley, the US Secretary of State announced that the third phase of releasing Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons which is planned to take place on December 29 could be delayed by one month. The intended purpose would be to put pressure on Mahmood Abbas to be more flexible in accepting the US proposed plan for Israeli security in the Jordan Valley. Before the current round of direct peace talks began in the summer, Israel agreed to release 104 terrorists from its prisons as a “gesture” to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. 52 terrorists have already been released and the rest are to be released in two more phases. Yasser Abed Rabbo, an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, accused the US as using the Palestinian prisoners to “blackmail” the Palestinians to accept a framework agreement that fails to meet Palestinian demands. Two Palestinian officials said Kerry proposed to free all remaining prisoners in late January and link the release to the US and Israel accepting a framework peace agreement. Kerry offered the Palestinians that the fourth group of prisoners will be released sooner so that the remaining Palestinian prisoners could be released at the end of January. Kerry had wanted the prisoner release to take place at the same time as the presentation of a potential US “framework agreement” in the coming weeks. After the Palestinians refused to accept the US request to delay the release of Palestinian prisoners, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that the prisoner release will take place on December 29 as scheduled.
Nabil Shaath, a senior official within the PLO, said that the Palestinians will remain in talks with Israel for the full 9 months to ensure that all Palestinians prisoners are released. He added that if it were not for the release of the 104 prisoners, the Palestinians would have quit the peace talks already. If peace talks fail, the Palestinians say that they are ready to appeal to join more international organizations including the International Criminal Court. Shaath repeated that he desires that the Palestinians petition all of the UN organizations – not only for the Palestinian terrorists to be released, but also to push Israel back to the 1967 borders. “The declaration of the PA as a UN non-member observer state recognizes the PA as having borders on 1967 lines,” he declared. “This gives us the right to be full members of other international organizations, the International Criminal Court, and other UN institutions.”
Meanwhile, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas rejected recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. Furthermore, the Palestinians said that there would be no deal with Israel that excludes the Palestinians controlling the Jordan Valley. Also, East Jerusalem must be the capital of a PLO state. In addition, the PLO also expressed opposition to the presence of any settlement blocs in the West Bank in the context of a future deal with Israel. “We can’t accept that the airspace, borders and border crossings remain under the control of Israel” the PLO said. Finally, Abbas said that he would “never give up an ounce of the Palestinians’ demands nor sign a peace agreement that failed to meet the national aspirations of the Palestinian people” including a full Israeli withdrawal from all lands liberated in 1967, establishment of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state and a full return to their original homes the families that fled Israel when it was established in 1948.
In a recent visit to Israel by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, he experienced a major snowstorm. In justifying his claim that the Palestinians must not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Mahmoud Abbas supported his demand by blaming Jews in Israel for influencing God to send the snowstorm that delayed visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Abbas said: “The Jews inserted special prayers last month for God to bring them rain but used Kabbalistic ideas in a code that encrypted requests that a winter storm would coincide with Kerry’s visit and disrupt his schedule. There are too many coincidences, here. This is only a hint of what would happen if we were to recognize Israel a Jewish state. The Jews cannot be trusted. They will use their influence on God to get what they want. There might even be peace, Allah forbid, one day. Abbas also threatened that if Jews do not rip out from their Sabbath prayer books the prayer for the government of Israel and protection for the Israeli soldiers, he will go to the United Nations to declare a boycott on all Jewish synagogues throughout the world. “I also will appeal to the International Court, after we gain membership there, to rule Jewish prayers a war crime because they ask Him to take vengeance on Israel’s enemies,” said Abbas.
Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator in the current round of peace talks with the Palestinians, says substantial progress has been made in the peace talks despite recent skepticism spoken by the Palestinians. Livni said that preventing failure in current negotiations will be difficult and will require her “experience and expertise,” and added that she first and foremost intends to protect Israel’s best interest.
Newly elected Labor political party leader, MK Yitzchak Herzog, claims that a peace agreement with the PA must be reached to keep Gush Etzion part of Israel. He envisions land swaps leaving “settlement blocs” in Israel hands and giving the vast majority of the West Bank to the Palestinians. He added: “I see Jerusalem serving as two political capitals: in eastern Jerusalem the capital of the Palestinian state, and the west of the city as the Jewish capital.” When asked if all of Jerusalem would remain Israeli territory, Herzog wouldn’t give details, saying “the Kotel (Western Wall) will stay in Israel’s hands, as for the rest we have to have a creative solution.”
The US and the European Union are pressuring Israel and the Palestinians to accept a “framework” peace agreement. Two months ago, the British government issued a document detailing the risks of doing business with nations who have problematic human rights records. Last week, the British government published a follow up document, focusing entirely on Israel and companies doing business either directly or indirectly beyond the 1967 borders. The report aims to “provide information on key security and political risks which UK businesses may face when operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” In a subchapter dedicated to Israel’s West Bank police, the report reads: “The UK has a clear position on Israeli settlements: The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights are territories which have been occupied by Israel since 1967. ”
Regarding the legality of settlements, the report goes on to say that “Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.” The UK report goes on to promise that “We will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties,” the warning reads. “EU citizens and businesses should also be aware of the potential reputational implications of getting involved in economic and financial activities in settlements, as well as possible abuses of the rights of individuals,” warns the report. The warning then goes on to describe what seems like a settlement boycott: “There are therefore clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity. “Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities (including in services like tourism) in Israeli settlements or benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements are built on occupied land and are not recognized as a legitimate part of Israel’s territory. “Those contemplating any economic or financial involvement in settlements should seek appropriate legal advice.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held urgent meetings with European representatives to discuss what Israeli officials termed the European Union’s refusal to show the necessary flexibility on its settlement guidelines to allow Israel to join the massive Horizon 2020 scientific project. Israel and the EU have been in intensive talks since August looking for a formula that would enable Israel’s participation in the flagship EU Research and Development program. This is in light of EU settlement guidelines published in June barring the transfer of any money or funds to entities beyond the 1967 borders including east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The guidelines stipulate that every agreement between the EU and Israel must include a clause saying that it is not applicable beyond the 1967 borders.
Israel has said it would not join the 80 billion euro program under the EU guidelines – Israel would be expected to pay some 600 million euros into the project with the expectation of receiving 900 million euro back in research grants and investments – unless explicit understandings with the EU were reached on the implementation of these guidelines. Israeli officials said that the EU essentially told Israel that while they would like Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020, the “guidelines are what they are,” and that the decision to join the program was in Israel’s hands. At the same time, one European source said, the EU did not want to be seen as granting a “victory” on this matter to Netanyahu or appear to the European public as backing down from its principles.
If Israel and the Palestinians are willing to agree to a “framework” peace agreement, the European Union intends to offer an unprecidented assistance package to Israel and the Palestinians. The EU also promised to upgrade relations with both parties to the highest level possible for non-member nations in the event of a peace treaty. The draft resolution details the economic, political and military aid the EU hopes will encourage Israel and the Palestinians to agree to the painful compromises that a peace agreement will inevitably entail.
The senior EU diplomat said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is on board with the move, which is being shepherded by the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, France, Spain and Italy. It is expected to pass, without significant changes. The draft resolution stipulates that after a peace agreement is reached, the status of both Israel and the future Palestinian state vis-a-vis the EU will be raised to “Special Privileged Partnership.”
The proposed EU assistance package to Israel and the future Palestinian state will include the following incentives:
1. Increased access to the EU market.
2. Closer cultural and scientific ties to the EU.
3. Facilitation of trade and investment.
4. Promotion of business-to-business relations.
5. Enhanced political dialogue with both states.
6. Enhanced security cooperation with both states.
In addition, the draft proposal says the EU “deplores” the construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and “warns against actions that undermine the negotiations.” The proposed decision states, “It is a fundamental interest of the European Union to see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
In conclusion, there are still wide gaps between Israel and the Palestinians on core issues namely – Jerusalem, borders, settlements and refugees. Both Israel and the Palestinians believe that the other side is not willing to make the concessions necessary for a final agreement. So, soon the US will have to decide the strategy that they will use to encourage Israel and the Palestinians to sign a “framework” peace agreement. Will Israel and the Palestinians agree to a US peace proposal? If not, will the US try to force an agreement upon both sides through the United Nations Security Council ? If the US can’t get both sides to agree, will they abandon the effort completely? Only time will tell.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Kerry brings plan integrating West Bank security in planned US-led anti-Al Qaeda regional force
2) Kerry presents new security plan to Netanyahu, Abbas
3) Kerry: New US security proposal tackles every potential threat
4) Report: US Moves Closer to Israel’s Stance in Peace Talks
5) Amman said to back Israeli demands on Jordan Valley
6) After security plan, ‘Kerry to present US blueprint for deal on all core issues’
7) Kerry Tries to Bridge U.S., Israel Gaps in Meetings
8.) Abbas Rejects Kerry’s Offer
9) Palestinians reject US security ideas for Israel peace accord
10) Palestinians reject US proposal for 10-year IDF presence in Jordan Valley
11) Palestinians: US ideas for security will lead to ‘total failure’ of talks
12) Bennett: No to Security Arrangements from US
13) Kerry to the Palestinians: Releasing more terrorists will be delayed
14) Report: Kerry to Postpone Terrorist Release to Pressure PA
15) US trying to ‘blackmail’ us over prisoner releases, Abbas adviser says
16) Palestinian negotiators angered as Kerry proposes Israeli demands
17) PA Rejects Prisoner Release Delay, Warns of ‘Total Failure’
18) Shaath: ‘We Will Stay in Negotiations Just to Release Prisoners’
19) Kerry: Next group of Palestinian prisoners to be released as planned at end of month
20) PA Formally Refuses to Recognize Jewish State
21) PLO: Palestinians won’t accept current proposals from Israel
22) Abbas: We’ll Never Give Up on a Single Demand
23) PLO: No ‘Deals’ With Israel, Unless We Get Everything We Want
24) PLO Official Threatens to Join International Organizations
25) Abbas to Blame Jews’ Prayers for Rain for Halting Peace Talks
26) Herzog: Divide Jerusalem and Make Land Swaps
27) PA officials: No progress on peace deal in latest Abbas-Kerry meeting
28) Obama: Iran must shut Fordo, give up making centrifuges. Palestinians must accept framework deal
29) US says not seeking interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deal
30) Obama: Israel-PA accord would need transition period
31) Kerry: Israel, Palestinians closest to peace ‘in years’
32) Kerry: Israel-Palestinian peace deal has never been closer
33) Livni: We are making progress in peace talks
34) Kerry: Israeli-Palestinian peace deal still possible by April
35) Source: Peace talks to extend beyond allocated nine months
36) Kerry said pushing for summit meeting with Netanyahu, Abbas
37) Israel-Palestinian negotiations finally come into some focus
38) UK: Doing business in ‘occupied territories’ entails ‘legal risks’
39) PM convenes urgent meetings on whether Israel will join Horizon 2020, as EU sticks to settlement guidelines
40) EU set to offer massive aid to Israel, Palestinians for peace deal
41) Israel, Palestinians already preparing their alibis if talks fail
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