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
In January, during his State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama solemnly proclaimed Israel as a “Jewish state” In pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, the president said his objective was an “independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel — a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.” However, in his meeting on March 17 with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the president conspicuously omitted any reference to Israel as a Jewish state. In one swoop, he erased Jewish identity from Israel — the very basis and rationale for Israel as a Jewish national homeland: Here is how he puts it now when calling for “two states, side by side, in peace and security — a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors.” Israel’s Jewishness is now gone from the equation.
Despite the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) ongoing rejection of Israeli demands to be recognized as the state of the Jewish people, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has not given up on her hopes that the framework agreement being drawn up by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be implemented. She said “Those who say that there will be no agreement in our generation have given up on the idea of peace. A responsible leadership cannot surrender on the basic interests of the State of Israel which are meant to defend Zionism and on the Jewish and democratic state,” added Livni. Insisting on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, she said, would “prevent Israel from turning into a binational state.” However, getting the PA to agree will be very difficult, Livni said. The Palestinians said that they will be willing to consider “resolving” the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state when peace talks come an end and a meaningful solution to the conflict is achieved, Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said. “If this issue would have appeared after the central issues would have been solved, and if we would receive the correct answers to practical questions, the issue could be resolved”, he added. Hours later, Shaath denied that he made these comments, saying that the PA’s position is that no discussions be held on the issue of recognition as Israel, as doing so means legitimizing “the theft of Palestine” and endangers the status of the so-called “Palestinian refugees” – meaning the millions of descendants of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel, whom the PA demands be given the right to “return” to Israel, which could make it a majority-Arab state.
When US President Barack Obama met with Palestinian leader, Mahmood Abbas, on March 17, the US said that no formal proposal had been made to Abbas in their meetings according to a senior State Department official. At the meetings, the Palestinians presented Obama with a map depicting Israeli settlement construction throughout the West Bank. Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat said that the meetings were “difficult” yet “candid.” Erekat added, “Contrary to what people expected, that we will come out of this meeting with an official American proposal document, this has not happened,” he said. “To submit an official document we need more discussion,” Erekat said. Abbas rejected terms within the US framework document for continued peace talks with Israel, and issued “three no’s” on core issues, leaving the negotiations heading for an explosive collapse, an Israeli TV report said. Specifically, the report said, Abbas rejected Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also refused to abandon the Palestinian demand for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians and their descendants — a demand that, if implemented, would drastically alter Israel’s demographic balance and which no conceivable Israeli government would accept. And finally, he refused to commit to an “end of conflict,” under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel. As a result, four left-wing Palestinian factions have called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmouad Abbas to declare the failure of peace talks with Israel. They were the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front to Liberate Palestine, the Peoples’ Party and the Palestinian National Initiative Party. They wrote in a letter, “Accepting (US Secretary of State John) Kerry’s plan to sign the framework peace deal is like committing suicide, and this plan has many dangerous consequences on the Palestinian cause and our people’s legitimate rights,” the factions said.
In analysis, Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that he does not view Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a partner for peace, noting that he does not believe peace will happen in his generation. “I’ve discovered this conflict is about the entire Palestine, they don’t recognize our right to exist here … it is impossible to make an agreement without there being recognition on the other side of our right to exist as the national homeland of the Jewish people,” he said. “Abu Mazen (Abbas) is a partner that receives but not a partner that gives. He’s not a partner for a final accord that ends with the recognition of the State of Israel,” Ya’alon said. He also said that he is “not sure” if US Secretary of State, John Kerry, was a fair mediator. “We’ll see at the end of the process,” he said. Ya’alon said he completely disagreed with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statement that it is a mistake to focus on the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “I supported Oslo; I thought that if we gave up land it would bring us tranquility, but when I discovered that the conflict is not only over land, and land is not only Judea and Samaria, it’s actually ‘all of Palestine,’ as they call it, the whole land of Israel, I became more realistic.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is very concerned that the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks could collapse soon and is working to find a solution that would allow the talks to continue beyond the April 29th deadline. As a result, Kerry is trying to convince Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to continue the talks and move forward with the upcoming release of the fourth batch of long-serving Palestinian terrorists being held in Israeli jails. Israel has threatened to halt the release of the prisoners, which includes Israeli citizens serving time on terror charges, unless Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas agrees to an extension of the talks. Abbas in turn has demanded that the prisoner release go through without any commitment on his part and threatened to end the negotiations. US Special Envoy Martin Indyk and Ambassador Dan Shapiro have met with both the Israelis and the Palestinians to find ways on how to continue the peace talks.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Palestinians are refusing to budge on the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and forfeiting the “right of return.” It was impossible to say there was progress right now in the diplomatic process but “we are continuing to work with the Americans.” As the clock winds down on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s window to secure a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis, some Palestinian officials are suggesting that greater involvement by the international community is the key to the success or failure of the Kerry mission. “It is really a decision of the international community that has not done much to see a breakthrough to the Palestinian question and to give Palestinians their basic rights,” Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Al-Malki said. “The US administration should really realize that any kind of pressure put on the Palestinian president is not going to work,” he said. Al-Malki also argued that the international community, which he defined as including the nations of the world except the US, needs to engage itself more in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And if they do not, the PA will be pestering them to do so. “As long as there is no understanding, comprehension, and cooperation from the international community to support our goals, we will continue to make our voice loud” in demanding greater European participation in the peace process.
Israel deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon threatened to oust Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as head of Likud political party if he makes too many concessions to the Palestinians in the current round of peace talks. “This framework would mean the abandonment of the Jordan Valley, a return to the 67 lines and the division of Jerusalem,” Danon stated. “The Likud is a democratic faction and their will be a race for the leadership when we get to that point. However, as someone who knows the hearts of Likud members, we will not support a framework that brings us in line with the positions of [Justice Minister] Tzipi Livni.” Speaking last week, Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said that he was pressuring Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to leave the ongoing negotiations process with Israel. Erekat stressed that Abbas could leave the negotiating table – but that he is waiting for Israel to release more Palestinian Arab terrorists first. “We put pressure on him to leave and he said, ‘I will not do that until Israel finishes releasing prisoners for the fourth time, at the end of March,” Erekat stated. Danon said that Israel should not fall into Abbas’ trap. “The government needs to reconsider its position on the release of terrorists,” Danon said. “Right now, it is clear that the negotiations are not going anywhere.” If Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon does not follow through with his threat and resigns, he will be fired, sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he has agreed to extend peace talks with Israel past April 29 if certain conditions are met which include freezing settlement construction and releasing more prisoners. Israel told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that it might not carry out a final stage of a Palestinian prisoner release unless he commits to prolonging peace talks beyond a US-set April deadline for a deal. “There was never any automatic commitment to release prisoners unrelated to making progress in negotiations,” Israel chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said. An Israeli offical said that Israel wanted assurances that Abbas wouldn’t walk out of the talks once the prisoners went free. “We need to be sure the negotiations will last beyond the release of prisoners, and that they will be substantive, and on solid ground,” the official said. Meanwhile, the US promised the Palestinians that they would pressure Israel to release the last of the 26 long-term Palestinian prisoners. They are scheduled to be released at the end of March. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has asked the US to mediate the release of Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader jailed a decade ago over a spate of suicide bombings. Israel would be committing “political blackmail” if it were to delay the final phase of the Palestinian security prisoner release, a Palestinian official said. “We are awaiting the release of the fourth batch of prisoners, as agreed upon with the Israelis through the United States. We are saying, if they are not released, this is a violation of the agreement and allows us to act however we see fit within the norms of international agreements.” If Israel does not release the 4th batch of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, the Palestinians have threatened to seek full recognition as a member state of the United Nations as Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said the Palestinians said if the prisoner release is called off, the Palestinians will “immediately” turn to the UN.
Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a harsh criticism of the Obama administration declaring that Israel cannot rely on the US to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, accusing the administration of broadcasting weakness throughout the world, and warning that its perceived weakness was inviting further terrorism against US target. Ya’alon said Israel could not afford to rely on the Obama administration to lead an action against Iran’s nuclear program and that Israel could only rely on itself. Israel had believed that “the one who should lead the campaign against Iran is the US,” but instead, “the US at a certain stage began negotiating with them, and unfortunately in the Persian bazaar the Iranians were better,” he said. Therefore, “we (Israelis) have to look out for ourselves.” Ya’alon was adamant that “Iran is fooling the world” about its nuclear program,” but said the West preferred to put off any confrontation — “to next year, or the next term; but it will blow up in the end.” The Iranians had been “on all fours” because of sanctions and diplomatic isolation, but had been allowed to recover, he charged. The interim deal signed in Geneva in November “is very comfortable for the Iranians,” he said, enabling them to establish themselves as a threshold state “and break out to the bomb when they choose to do so.” Ya’alon also stressed several times that the US was radiating weakness in every region worldwide. “The Sunni camp [in the Middle East] expected that the US would support it, and would be as determined as Russia is in its support of the Shiite axis,” he was quoted as saying. “I hear voices of disappointment in the region. I was in Singapore, and I heard disappointment at the strengthening of China and the weakening of the United States. Look what’s happening in the Ukraine; there, to my sorrow, the US is broadcasting weakness.” Ya’alon further warned that if the US continued to show weakness internationally, its own national security would be severely damaged. “If you wait at home, terror will come calling again,” he said. “This is a war of civilizations. If you are perceived to be weak, that certainly does not pay in the world. I hope the US will reassert itself.”
The Obama administration vented its anger at public insults and criticism of US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, calling Ya’alon’s comments “unconstructive” and “confusing”. A senior source within the US administration told Israel’s Channel 10 that the US will request a public apology from Ya’alon. US State Department spokeswomen Jen Psaki said Kerry spoke with Netanyahu over Ya’alon’s comments. Also Secretary Kerry spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu and he protested to him his concerns about these comments. We were shocked by Moshe Ya’alon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States,” a senior US administration official said. “Moreover, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which the Defense Minister disparages the US Administration, and insults its most senior officials.”
Does the US engage in a double standard with Israel ? Is the US permitted to criticize Israel without Israel being able to criticize the US ? A commentary in the Jerusalem Post newspaper stated the following:
The US has told Israel over and over … Friends often have to be brutally honest with one another. US Secretary of State John Kerry often prefaces critical comments of Israeli policies in his speeches or interviews by stressing that he had a flawless voting record on Israel in the Senate for over 29 years, and shouted “Am Yisrael chai!” from Massada on his first visit here in 1986. Being a friend, he implies, means being able to be critical. US President Barack Obama, in his keynote speech to Israel at the Jerusalem International Convention Center during his visit last year at this time, segued from the unabashedly positive part of his speech into the more critical by saying that not everyone in the hall was going to agree with what he had to say about peace. “That’s part of the discourse between our two countries. I recognize that,” Obama said. “But I also believe it’s important to be open and honest, especially with your friends. I also believe that.” The US surely believes that when it comes to being open and honest with Israel. Just take Obama’s recent interview with Bloomberg View’s Jeffrey Goldberg, the one that appeared one day before the president was to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in March in the Oval Office. That interview included some very open and candid criticism of the current government’s policies, and an underlining theme that Netanyahu had so far failed to “seize the day.” Obama painted a bleak future indeed for Israel if its policies did not fundamentally change. Kerry, over the last few months, has given speeches in which he predicted catastrophe – a third intifada, deepening international isolation and boycotts – if the elected government of the State of Israel continued down its current path. That is all well and legitimate, part of what Obama referred to in Jerusalem as the importance of being “open and honest, especially with your friends.”
But how about the other way around? How about when that openness and honesty is not Washington criticizing Israeli policy, but rather Israel passing judgment on US policies? Then, as was evident again this week with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s latest critique of American foreign policy, the US is far less forbearing. For whatever the reason, the US cannot seem to tolerate words of criticism from Israel. Does the US see that it has a right to criticize Israel but Israel doesn’t have a right to criticize the US ? Does the US have a double standard toward Israel ?
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Obama Retracts Jewish Identity of Israel
2) Livni Supports PA Recognition of Israel
3) Palestinian official: Peace first, then recognition
4) PA Official: Recognizing Israel ‘Hurts the Refugees’
5) U.S.: No Formal Proposals Were Made to Abbas
6) Erekat: Abbas showed Obama ‘very ugly’ settlement map
7) Left-wing Palestinian factions to Abbas: Declare failure of peace talks
8) Ya’alon: Abbas is a partner that receives, not one that gives
9) Washington reportedly fears collapse of peace talks
10) Netanyahu: No sign of progress in diplomatic process
11) Growing call for non-American role in Mideast peace process
12) US diplomats meet with Israeli foreign minister
13) Danon threatens to oust Netanyahu as Likud chief if he accepts Kerry’s framework
14) Danon: PA ‘Has Livni Wrapped Around Their Little Finger’
15) Netanyahu’s Associates: If Danon Doesn’t Quit, He’ll be Fired
16) Abbas agrees to extend peace talks ‘under conditions’
17) Israel says might not carry out Palestinian prisoner release
18) U.S. to pressure Israel to release Palestinian prisoners
19) Abbas asks Obama’s help to free jailed Palestinian leader Barghouti
20) PA: Delaying prisoner release would be ‘blackmail’
21) Abbas: Failure to free prisoners is breach of deal
22) Palestinians threaten to seek statehood at UN if prisoner release canceled
23) Palestinians threaten to resume UN campaign
24) Israel can’t rely on ‘weak’ US to deal with Iran, Ya’alon warns
25) Kerry ‘Protests’ to Prime Minister Over Criticism from Ya’alon
26) Kerry spoke to Netanyahu over Ya’alon’s comments
27) ‘Mystified’ US slams Israeli defense minister Ya’alon’s criticism of Obama
28) Diplomacy: Ya’alon strikes twice
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