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
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that he promised Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni during their controversial meeting in London on May 15 that the government would work within his own – not Hamas’s – guidelines. He stressed that he himself may not head the government, but that another Fatah official may, e.g. PA “prime minister” Rami Hamdallah. He also indicated that the government will be comprised entirely of “independent” Palestinian Arab politicians, and that it would be based on four international principles: recognizing Israel, recognizing the terms of international agreements, and the explicit rejection of violence and terrorism. He said the idea of the reconciliation process was to go toward Palestinian elections, “but if something goes wrong along the way, we’ll re-examine matters.”
In addition, Abbas said that the Palestinian leadership does not intend to seek membership in or help from additional UN and other international organizations in the near future. Abbas said that two days before he applied for membership in 15 international organizations at the start of April — one of the steps that led to the collapse of the talks — he sent a formal letter to Netanyahu’s peace emissary, Yitzhak Molcho, and to the American special envoy, Martin Indyk, in which he warned that if Israel did not free a fourth and final batch of long-term prisoners as promised, he would apply to join the 15 groups. He said he delayed the implementation of what had been a decision by the Palestinian leadership to join the organizations for two days to see if the Israeli government would change its position but this did not happen. Israel had balked at releasing the fourth group of prisoners because Abbas sought the freeing of Israeli Arabs as part of the group and because he had not committed to extending the peace talks beyond the end of April deadline.
Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was on the verge of firing Israel chief negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni after her recent meeting with Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas in London on May 15– but restrained himself. In her meeting with Abbas, Livni expressed Israel’s dissatisfaction with the unity pact he reached with Hamas.The meeting was the first between Abbas and a senior Israeli official since Israel pulled out of the peace talks in response to the Hamas-Fatah unity pact. According to reports, Livni had informed Netanyahu that she was to meet with Abbas. When Netanyahu heard about the meeting, he criticized the move. Previously, Netanyahu had not been aware of the meeting. When Netanyahu found out what Livni was planning, he specifically told her not to meet with Abbas – a directive she subsequently ignored. Netanyahu was prepared to fire Livni, but changed his mind at the last moment, after sources close to Finance Minister Yair Lapid indicated that her firing would trigger a “coalition crisis.” Livni defended her actions by saying, “In order to understand what Abbas wants, we need to talk to him. I believe in direct negotiations. There are no formal negotiations now, but I was in London and he was in London and therefore the meeting took place.” She added, “Suspending the negotiations does not mean boycotting the other side. Boycotting is silly when we are here and the conflict remains.”
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party who is close to the prime minister, said that if Israel’s chief peace negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni meets again with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against the wishes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that she will be fired. Netanyahu had thus far treated Livni “with a certain amount of mercy,” said Steinitz but if she defied the prime minister again, “she will no longer be a minister.” All ministers must respect government policy, said Steinitz. The decision-making inner cabinet voted last month to suspend all negotiations with the Palestinians after Abbas approved a unity pact between his Fatah faction of the PLO and the Islamist extremist Hamas, which calls to destroy Israel. Livni voted in favor of the decision.
Livni rejected calls by colleagues in the opposition to quit the coalition, saying that she could be more effective from within the government –particularly, according to her, in preventing Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and others from taking the country in an “irresponsible direction.” Bennett would be delighted for her to leave the coalition, she said, and thus to clear the field for his agenda, including unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank. She was using “all the political power that I have” to thwart the extreme right, she said, noting sadly that her faction was smaller than it was in previous Knessets. “It’s important to be the gatekeeper against dangerous ideas.”
Meanwhile, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Palestinian leadership is unwilling to make compromises for peace, calling into the question the wisdom of diplomatic negotiations. Netanyahu laid blame for the collapse of peace talks on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and hinted that Israel may have to consider taking unilateral steps to leave the West Bank.
“Negotiations are always preferable. But six prime ministers since Oslo have failed in their pursuit of a negotiated settlement,” he said. “They’ve always thought we were on the verge of success, and then [Yasser] Arafat backed off, Mahmoud Abbas backed off, because they can’t conclude these negotiations. We don’t have a Palestinian leadership that is willing to do that. The minimal set of conditions that any Israeli government would need cannot be met by the Palestinians.”
Asked about the possibility of a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, Netanyahu acknowledged that the idea was gaining traction across the political spectrum, but warned that Israel could not risk another Gaza, which was taken over by Hamas after Israeli unilaterally disengaged. “Many Israelis are asking themselves if there are certain unilateral steps that could theoretically make sense. But people also recognize that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza didn’t improve the situation or advance peace,” he said. While Netanyahu backed efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to bring the sides to the table, he blamed Abbas for not taking the Americans seriously. “What has Abbas done? Nothing. He’s refused to entertain Kerry’s efforts to try and lock horns on the core issues. He internationalized the conflict,” he said, referring to the Palestinian leader’s decision to apply to 15 international treaties, which Jerusalem said broke a Palestinian commitment not to apply for statehood to the UN. Israel remains committed to face-to-face talks with the Palestinians as the best path forward to two states for two peoples, Netanyahu said, but it refuses to negotiate with Fatah as long as it honors its unity deal with Hamas. The broad-based options that members of the government have put forward fall into three basic categories: an economic plan, withdrawal from isolated settlements, or annexation of territory in the West Bank.
There are some points of consensus in Israel around the peace process with the Palestinians and the nation’s future, he said. “The first point of consensus is that we don’t want a binational state. Another point of consensus is that we don’t want an Iranian proxy in territories we vacate. We want a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the nation-state of the Jews. How do you get that if you can’t get it through negotiations? “The Palestinians don’t agree to recognizing Israel as the Jewish nation-state, and it’s not clear to me that they’ll agree to elements of demilitarization that are required in any conceivable plan that works,” Netanyahu said. The problem with a negotiated solution he said, is that at present there is no ground for consensus with the Palestinians. No matter what the spin is about blaming Israel, do we actually expect Abbas, who seems to be embracing Hamas, to give a negotiated deal? In all likelihood, no. I hope he does, but I’m not sure he’s going to do it,” Netanyahu said. “There is an emerging consensus that we don’t have a partner who can challenge constituencies, do something unpopular, do something that is difficult. Abbas has not done anything to challenge the prevailing Palestinian consensus. In fact, he’s doing the opposite: the Hamas reconciliation, internationalizing the conflict, not giving one iota on the right of return, not giving an iota on the Jewish state. He wouldn’t deal with Kerry’s framework,” Netanyahu said.
Israel Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said that he would present a bill to redraw the lines of the Jerusalem municipality to include a number of West Bank settlements in a single “Greater Jerusalem” polity. The settlements to be amalgamated into Jerusalem under the bill include the city of Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, the Gush Etzion bloc, and Beitar Illit, containing in total a population of over 150,000 Israelis. “This week we will celebrate ‘Jerusalem Day’ to mark 47 years of the unification of the city,” Katz said. “This is the time to advance an initiative that will strengthen Jerusalem, expand its borders, and preserve its Jewish national character.” Katz’s proposed legislation could constitute an alternative, or a step toward, annexation of the areas into Israeli territory — a move that has been repeatedly advocated by Economics Minister Naftali Bennett. Earlier that day, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan called on the Israeli government “to start preparing for the annexation of Area C.” Wherever “there is a Jewish population [in the West Bank] that should remain in place; we can start to prepare to annex [that area] if there is no Palestinian partner and the situation seems unlikely to change,” Erdan said.
In any peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel must keep the Jordan Valley said Israel Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz. “Anyone who comes here can understand that Israel cannot give up the Jordan Valley,” he said. “If we pull out from the Jordan Valley, we will really risk Israel’s security and its very existence,” he said. “The Jordan Valley is the only possible reasonable defense line in the east, vis-a-vis Iran and its proxies,” said Steinitz. This includes al-Qaida and Hezbollah, he said. “If someone thinks we can afford moving the line [the border] from here 50 kilometers to the west, this will be a disaster,” he said. Only the Israeli army can perform the vital mission of securing the valley, Steinitz said. This task can’t be left to an international security force, he said and added that it could not be done by Palestinians or Europeans. The Palestinians have insisted that Israel withdraw from the valley so that it can be folded into the future borders of their state. Israel’s insistence that the valley must remain in its hands for security reasons was one of the deep disagreements that marked the nine-month negotiating period which ended on April 29.
Israel Economics Minister Naftali Bennett said that he supports the possibility that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering taking “unilateral steps” to establish “a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.” Bennett said: “I hear talk of ‘Israel’s unilateral actions.’ I support that. We are pushing for applying Israeli law unilaterally over Gush Etzion, Ariel, the Jordan Valley, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ofra, Alfe Menashe, the Ben Gurion Airport envelope, Samaria, Judea, and the rest of the Jewish settlement enterprise,” Bennett stated. “I will continue to push for it with all my might, until it happens. And it will happen. The Arabs have decided that they will no longer come to the table,” he continued. “The era of negotiations has ended. They are acting unilaterally (United Nations, incitement, etc.). Now it is our turn.” Bennett said that he would give “Palestinians complete freedom of movement, which requires removing all roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank. In particular, Israel should dismantle the security barrier erected throughout the last decade to defend against Palestinian terror attacks during the Second Intifada.” Bennett further proposed Arab autonomy in Areas A and B, and the offering of full Israeli citizenship to Arab residents of Area C.
Israel chief negotiator Tzipi Livni blasted Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett’s plan for Israel to annex Area C of Judea and Samaria, where there is a Jewish majority. “There is a group, part of which is represented in the coalition, which does not want a diplomatic settlement and does everything to sabotage it. This group and its leaders should tell the truth to the citizens of this country: they are leading to a binational state,” Livni said. Annexing Area C, she claimed, will lead to the end of Zionism. “Bennett is suggesting to annex Area C, destroy the fence and turn us into one state. He says give [the Palestinian Arabs] autonomy. But if you destroy the fence, at the end of the day two and a half million Palestinians will become citizens of this one country, and it will not be the Israel we love, it will be another country – the end of Zionism,” said Livni. “A unilateral move to annex Area C will not happen as long as I’m in the government,” she said. She went on to attack Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who said that he intends to advance legislation to expand Jerusalem’s borders to include so-called “settlement blocs” like Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion. “Bennett and Katz know their suggestions will not happen. They just want to win points with those who do not want an agreement, who do not understand the significance of these proposals and the tragic consequences they will have on Israel as we want to keep it – a Jewish and democratic state which is connected to the world with a thriving economy,” said Livni.
The United States told Israel that it opposes unilateral actions. State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf said that “no one should take any steps that undermine trust, including unilateral. We would like to resume peace negotiations, and we think that both sides should take steps to make that possible.
Finally, Pope Francis visited Israel. The Pope advocated the “Palestinian people’s right to have a homeland, sovereign and independent.” The Pope also supports “Israel’s right to exist in peace and security within internationally recognized boundaries. The Vatican recognized the “State of Palestine” in 2012 amid the United Nations (UN) vote to confer “Palestine” non-member observer state status, a status until then only held by the Vatican.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Abbas: ‘Unity’ Government to Recognize Israel, Denounce Terror
2) Abbas says he won’t join more international groups for now
3) Report: Netanyahu Was ‘This Close’ to Dumping Livni Over Meeting
4) Livni will be fired if she meets Abbas again, says top minister
5) Netanyahu: There is nobody to negotiate with in Ramallah
6) Netanyahu open to exploring alternatives if direct talks prove impossible
7) Netanyahu could be open to exploring annexation plans if peace process fails
8) ‘Greater Jerusalem’ bill aims to incorporate settlements
9) Steinitz: Jordan Valley is critical to Israel’s survival
10) ‘It’s Israel’s Turn to Take Unilateral Steps’
11) Livni Blasts Bennett Over Annexation Suggestion
12) Livni: Bennett’s plan for annexation of Area C won’t be realized as long as I’m around
13) US to Netanyahu: ‘We oppose unilateral steps’
14) Vatican Says Pope Will Demand ‘Sovereign Palestine’
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