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
A senior Palestinian negotiator said that the Palestinians have received a pledge from the US that by the end of 2014, the Obama administration will issue an official written declaration presenting general highlights for a future Palestinian state. The negotiator said that the goal is to have a general framework for a peace agreement by the end of April. As part of the written declaration, the U.S. is set to officially recognize Palestinian rights in eastern sections of Jerusalem, without defining the exact territories that would be eventually handed to the PA. The U.S. will declare on paper that the Jordan Valley as well as the West Bank is “occupied” by Israel and that Palestinians have rights there, the negotiator said.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that the US framework for peace will have “real, significant content in the document. It doesn’t mean that each side will agree with each word and there will still be many subjects to deal with in the negotiations for a final agreement. I think we have a good chance to reach a framework agreement before the end of the nine-month period we allotted before we entered negotiations,” he said. “The framework will allow the talks to continue.” Furthermore, according to Shapiro, the US framework agreement will obligate the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “[The PA] recognizing Israel as Jewish state is a key sign that the conflict is ending,” Shapiro said. “The United States has always believed that Israel is a Jewish state and that it should stay that way.” He said the two sides will have to make significant decisions including the fate of Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank. Shapiro said that “there are several options we can take on the issue.” In order to find out the degree of objection to a framework peace agreement, Shapiro had meetings with Israel Knesset members who oppose a PLO state. The US wishes to know in advance what the reaction from the right side of the political map to Kerry’s proposal will be. As part of this effort, Shapiro has met in the past several weeks with several MKs from the Likud Beytenu and Jewish Home factions, including Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and coalition chairman Yariv Levin. In two weeks, Shapiro plans to meet with MKs who head the Knesset’s Land of Israel Lobby and are against any Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank as part of a peace agreement.
Regarding recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, a senior PLO official, Nabil Amaro, said that Abbas was prepared to recognize Israel — this time, for real. However, PLO Executive Committee Secretary General Yasser Abed Rabbo said that the Palestinians would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He said that the Palestinian position “on this issue is well-known and firm,” adding that acceding to Israel’s demand “represents a serious threat to the Palestinian cause as a whole.” Any favourable response to the demand for recognition, he warned, would mean recognition of the Greater Israel, including the occupied Palestinian territories, as the national homeland of the Jewish people. He also said Palestinians and Arab world in general are unanimous in their rejection of any demand to recognise Israel as a Jewish state in any peace formula.
In order to show their opposition to any Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank or Jordan Valley, about 3,000 people, including Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Coalition Chairman Knesset Member Yariv Levin, took part in a protest march in the Jordan Valley. Minister Sa’ar declared to the participants of the march: “We are here with a simple and clear message – the Jordan Valley is Israeli.” The march was initiated by the chairs of the Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset. The interior minister added that the marchers have come to support the settlers of the Jordan Valley, who “are on a mission for the entire Israeli people. (Israel) needs to know that the (Jordan) Valley settlement will remain and prosper for ages,” the minister stressed. “The security of Israel required a strategic depth, it is unthinkable for the border to not be in the Jordan Valley.”
In contrast, Israel Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) made a passionate plea for a peace agreement with the Palestinians by saying that his country must do everything in its power to reach an accord with the Palestinians since the current situation posed a “threat to the future of the state of Israel.” Lapid said that if current peace talks collapse it will be “nothing less than devastating” to the welfare of Israeli citizens. But beyond risks to the economy, he said failure to establish a Palestinian state would leave Israel facing a demographic threat that could undermine its Jewish and democratic nature. “Every moment in which we do not separate from the Palestinians is a downright threat to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state,” he said. “This is not a marriage that we seek with the Palestinians. This is a divorce.” If we do not reach peace, “The options we will have is to refuse, and stop being a democracy, or to agree, and stop being a Jewish state,” he warned. “These are two bad options. These are two options that need to be prevented. The state of Israel does not need to a rule another nation or another people. This is against Jewish morals. This is against the core idea of building here an exemplary society.” According to Lapid, “If the Israeli left and the Israeli right keep saying that ‘nothing will come of [the talks],’ then a self-fulfilling prophecy will result and instead of approaching the talks wholeheartedly, both sides will continue to sit and gain points for the blame game that will be conducted after everything collapses,” Lapid predicted. “I will not let anyone ruin the chance of an agreement,” Lapid said. Lapid blamed the PA primarily for the failure in talks but he also stressed the importance of taking responsibility for Israel’s role in how events proceed. “We must make every effort to reach an agreement because the current situation endangers Israel’s future,” he insisted. “It endangers us because Israel is unable to, and cannot, absorb four million Palestinians. If we want to remain a Jewish state, we must separate from them. The agenda of this coalition is very clear,” Lapid said. “The Prime Minister sat down on the first day of the coalition [. . .] and said that we are going to start the peace process according to the two-state solution. Then, he repeated that in the Knesset, he repeated that in the UN, he repeated that in the White House, he actually repeated that almost every time he saw a microphone,” Lapid continued. “Yesh Atid is…an Israeli political party that is protecting this agenda.”
Tzipi Livni, who heads Israel’s negotiating team with the Palestinians, said that just as Israel will need to make compromises, so too will the Palestinians. Furthermore, she said, the Palestinians need “to understand that the only option for creating a state runs through the negotiating room.” Livni was full of praise for US Secretary of State John Kerry. She called him a “game changer” who has listened carefully to both sides and tried to discern from Israel “what is the deal maker, and what is the deal breaker” before presenting his paper that is to form the basis for continued negotiations. “Frankly I don’t think that we are going to be in love with this paper, but I hope that we can live with this paper, and I’m sure this also applies to the Palestinian side,” she said. Livni said Kerry already performed two important tasks. The first was to gain the trust of the international community, and get the Russians, Europeans and the Arab world to stay outside the “tent” and not disturb those negotiating inside. Second, she said, the international community got another important message from Kerry: Keep the Palestinians in the negotiation room, and don’t let them think that if they say no to a deal the world will step in and impose a better deal from their perspective on Israel.
A fellow member of Netanyahu’s Likud political party, Danny Danon, petitioned an Israeli court to allow the Likud central committee to debate Kerry’s framework plan with the intent to block Netanyahu from conceding on issues in the deal. The court’s ruling means Danon can convene Likud’s central committee to hold votes on issues Netanyahu is against. Some of the votes would likely include issues relating to territorial concessions which is at the heart of peace negotiations Kerry is moderating.
Speaking to those entities who have threatened to boycott Israel if Israel fails to agree to a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that those who boycott Israel are anti-Semites. He said that it was time for Israel to “fight back” and “delegitimize the delegitimizers.” There are increasing concerns in Israel over a Palestinian-led movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). The boycott has been growing recently, mainly in Europe, where some businesses and pension funds have cut investments or trade with Israeli firms they say are connected to West Bank settlements. “In the past anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state, and by the way, only the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said. “I think that it is important that the boycotters be exposed for what they are, they are classical anti-Semites in modern garb,” Netanyahu said.
Ahmed Qurei, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee said that the ambiguous language in the text of an American framework agreement to be presented to Israel and the Palestinians may lead to the collapse of peace talks by saying that the current American positions on a number of core negotiating issues including borders, Jerusalem and the settlements do not satisfy the Palestinian need for clarity. “Trying to put ambiguity in the text will not help the parties. I don’t want to continue discussing what this or that [phrase] means … this would be a waste of time.” He said that the US proposals for a framework agreement are more favorable to Israel than the Palestinians. For example, the US framework calls for “a Palestinian right to a capital in Jerusalem. This we cannot accept,” Qurei said. “We want [explicit mention of] East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.” He said that reference to Jerusalem with no distinction between east and west tacitly acknowledges Israel’s annexation of the eastern part of the city occupied in 1967. With regards to the borders, Kerry proposed a Palestinian state “on the basis of the 1967 borders,” with modifications based on “changes on the ground,” a reference to Israeli settlements, Qurei said. The phrase “changes on the ground” is also too vague for Palestinians, Qurei said. “What changes? This is occupied territory. All changes should be unacceptable, but the parties can discuss [land] swaps. They should be minimal and not affect Palestinians’ lives and territorial contiguity.” With regards to settlements, the US should insert a clause specifically acknowledging their illegality under international law. The United States itself, Qurei noted, has voted in the UN against settlement construction. “If this is not recognized, I think it will be difficult to reach any kind of agreement,” Qurei said. Another discrepancy between the American and Palestinian positions concerns the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The Americans reject the notion of a Palestinian right of return, while the Palestinians insist on the Arab Peace Initiative’s formula of a “just and agreed upon” solution, based on UN Resolution 194.
The Palestinians said that they would gladly accept the US framework for peace with Israel — but only if it was outlined on the PA’s own terms. “[The PA] will not agree to any agreement, whether it is a framework agreement or a permanent arrangement, if they do not include the Palestinian and Arab positions which are in line with international law,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh. “The strong and consistent position of the Palestinian Authority is the same as the position of President Mahmoud Abbas, that there will not be a (Palestinian) state without East Jerusalem as the capital city, that we will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, that settlements are illegal, that the Palestinian state will be along 1967 lines, that we must find a just solution to the refugee problem and that Israel must release the prisoners.”
Senior Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, said that ”the way things stand right now, the deal Kerry is going to present to the two sides, as we know it, will most probably fail”. While Kerry’s efforts are ”sincere and praiseworthy” both sides have already said why they might not accept the plan, Ashrawi said. ”The Israelis because of their security issues, which could lead to NATO presence in the Jordan Valley for five years until Israeli troops withdraw. The Palestinians because they want the right of return for refugees, and Jerusalem as the capital of their future State”. Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat said that if US-brokered peace talks fail to result in an accord, then the Palestinian will call for an economic boycott of Israel. “Turning to international tribunals, to UN bodies, and joining a call for economic sanctions – all that will come if Kerry’s initiative fails,” Erekat said. According to Erekat, the Palestinians promised not to attempt to try Israel in international courts, and in return secured the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners. Therefore, he explained, no suits would be filed until the fourth and final round of prisoners are released. Erekat said that the PA is preparing for a “blitz” of lawsuits against Israel in The Hague, claiming the Palestinians have more than 50 petitions signed and ready, should talks fail. Regarding the possibility of extending the nine-month timeframe set for the talks, Erekat said “We will not extend the negotiations for one minute beyond 29th April.”
In response, US government officials expressed concern Saeb Erekat’s comments. “We are of course concerned about the recent comments by Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. “We’ve said all along that it’s important to create a positive atmosphere around these discussions. The personal attacks, quite frankly, are unhelpful, and the secretary will make clear that these kinds of comments are disappointing, that they are unhelpful, especially coming from someone involved in the negotiations, indeed the lead negotiator,” Harf added.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the US negotiating team has demanded that Israel agree to an “informal” freeze of settlement activity outside the large settlement blocs. The freeze would go into effect immediately after the signing of a framework agreement. As a result, Israel would have to commit not to approve plans for housing, or market housing units, outside the large Jewish population concentrations in the West Bank. In response, Israel Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) sharply criticized the US over these reports by saying, “[A building freeze] is a redundant, deluded idea,” Ariel said. Ariel pointed out that the last building freeze – which Netanyahu declared in 2009 – not only did not advance peace with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in any way but may have worsened the situation. In addition, 21 Knesset Members, seven of them deputy ministers, wrote a letter to Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying that a building freeze is definitely out of the quesiton. The Knesset members are also members of the Land of Israel Caucus Lobby. The Caucus members – headed by Coalition Chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud-Beytenu) and MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home) stressed that they “streuously oppose a freeze of any kind, including a freeze ‘outside the [large settlement] blocs,’ and we will see an Israeli commitment along these lines as a serious game changer.”
Finally, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beytenu) ascended to the Temple Mount after 10 months in which security forces refused to let him set foot there. Feiglin reported afterward that he had toured “all corners” of the Temple Mount, including the Ramah – where the Temple building and inner courtyard were located, according to Jewish sages. Feiglin said that he had also prayed on the Mount. Feiglin had toured the Mount every month, for years, but in April of 2013, the Commander of the Israel Police’s David Precinct called him and informed him that he was no longer allowed to enter the site. “I see my ascent this morning as the beginning of the return of full Jewish sovereignty to the Temple Mount, MK Feiglin said. “The Israel Police proved that when they receive the correct orders, they can carry them out in the best possible way.” Feiglin’s visit was preceded by a protracted process of negotiation between him and the police, which was assisted by the Knesset Speaker and unspecified legal elements in the Knesset. Rabbi Chaim Richman, speaking on behalf of the Temple Institute, congratulated MK Feiglin on returning to the Temple Mount “after being banned from the holy site by Prime Minister Netanyahu for the past year. This is a great step forward in the struggle for Jewish sovereignty — which is synonymous with Jewish prayer — on the Temple Mount. Knesset member Feiglin’s ascent to the Temple Mount is a positive step towards the building of the Holy Temple and gives hope to all of Israel,” he said
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Obama’s ‘big breakthrough’ coming by end of year
2) US envoy: Framework deal will have ‘real, significant content’
3) US Framework to Demand that PA Recognize Israel as Jewish State
4) Shapiro Meeting with Nationalist MKs About Framework
5) Minister Sa’ar: Jordan Valley will prosper for ages under Israeli sovereignty
6) Lapid warns failure of peace talks poses demographic threat
7) Lapid: ‘We are a Legion of 19 Spears’ Protecting Peace Agenda
8.) Livni: Disengagement from Gaza should not be reason for no more compromise
9) Israeli court’s move could dampen peace prospects with Palestinians
10) Netanyahu: Those who boycott Israel are anti-Semites
11) US framework draft is too vague, says top PLO official
12) PA Official: Abbas Ready for Israel as a Jewish State
13) PLO official: No recognition of Israel as Jewish state
14) Mideast: I’m afraid Kerry peace plan will probably fail, says Ashrawi (PLO)
15) Fatah Insists: Interim Agreement Only On Our Terms
16) Palestinian chief negotiator: If talks fail, PA will collapse
17) US: Saeb Erekat’s comments against Israel harmful to negotiations
18.) Report: US Demands Settlement Freeze
19) ‘US to demand partial Israeli settlement freeze’
20) Minister Hits Out over Reports US Pushing for Building Freeze
21) MKs to Prime Minister: Building Freeze? Forget about It!
22) MK Feiglin Ascends Temple Mount for First Time Since Police 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,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l