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
Recently, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah party swore in a unity government consisting of his own Fatah party and the arch-rival Hamas who rules in the Gaza Strip. Ministers in the new administration, whom Abbas has said would be politically unaffiliated. Abbas says the new Cabinet is made up of apolitical technocrats who have no ties to Hamas. Hamas, which remains sworn to Israel’s destruction, has agreed to support the government from the outside. The swearing in of the unity government appeared to mark a significant step in repairing ties between the rival Palestinian factions which have been at odds since 2007 when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah. Abbas said that the PLO, and not the unity government, which consists of 17 ministers, would remain in charge of the negotiations with Israel. Dismissing Israeli opposition to the Fatah-Hamas unity government, Abbas said that this would make him even more determined to pursue reconciliation with Hamas. Abbas said he was presenting the unity agreement as a “gift to souls of our martyrs who fell so that Pales-tine could live.” He said it was also a gift to“heroic” Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The signing ceremony came after Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in April to form the transitional government which is now slated to pave the way for general elections in late 2014 or early 2015. Abbas said that he would direct the Palestinian Central Elections Commission to start preparing for holding presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories. “The government’s task is to facilitate the issue of elections, which will take place within six months as agreed [between Fatah and Hamas],” Abbas said. Abbas sent a letter to the head of the Palestinian central elections committee Hanna Nasser requesting that the committee begin work to prepare for elections to be held on December 4. The United States has promised the new Fatah-Hamas unity government that it will convince Israel to allow that new government’s elections to be held in the eastern part of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Israel plans to work against the inclusion of Hamas candidates in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections. Following an emergency security cabinet meeting, the security cabinet said that Israel would “act, including in the international arena, against the participation of terrorist organizations in elections.”
In an apparent punitive move following the swearing in of a Palestinian unity government, Israel has revoked special travel permits for all Palestinian Authority officials other than President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel was also revoking free travel rights for members of the outgoing Palestinian government who were not appointed to the Hamas-Fatah unity government and would examine restrictions on other Palestinians with VIP travel passes, said Yoav Mordechai, who heads the Israeli military unit tasked with coordinating activity in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel has also notified the PA that it is considering withholding Palestinian tax revenues estimated at over $100 million a month.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that in the wake of the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, Hamas has no intention of moderating its stance against Israel. At the end of last week, the Hamas leadership “again declared its intention to destroy the state of Israel.” and those who thought that the unity Palestinian government would moderate the Islamic movement are “mistaken,” Netanyahu said. He stressed that Israel would not negotiate with the Palestinians as long as Hamas was part of the Palestinian government. It noted that the government had already voted on April 24th to suspend these talks and that this decision still held. “The State of Israel will not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian government that backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. The cabinet warned the Palestinian Authority that Israel would hold it responsible for “all actions that harm the security of Israel which originate in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.”Furthermore, he added, rather than the Palestinian Authority gaining control over the Gaza Strip, there are signs that the militant Islamic group is making preparations to gain more power in the West Bank. Instead of the PA taking control of Gaza, “we see more and more signs that the exact opposite will happen. That is to say, that Hamas will gain more control over Palestinian Authority areas in Judea and Samaria,” the prime minister said.
A former Hamas government spokesman said that Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had stated in private meetings he is lying in public statements about the intent of the Fatah-Hamas unity government in order to “trick the Americans.” The spokesman, Ihab al-Ghussein, said that “behind closed doors,” Abbas had said “when I go out and say that the government is my government and it recognizes ‘Israel’ and so on, fine – these words are meant to trick the Americans. Guys, let me (continue) saying what I say to the media. Those words are meant for the Americans and the occupation (i.e., Israel), not for you. What’s important is what we agree on among ourselves. …Don’t harp on everything I tell the media, forget about the statements in the media,” Abbas told Hamas.
Within Netanyahu’s government, there were diverse reactions to the Fatah-Hamas unity deal. The secular political party, Yesh Atid, headed by Israel Finance Minister Yair Lapid said, “The international community now knows the Palestinians are the ones who refused to make peace.” Yet in a speech at the Herzliya conference, Lapid called on Israel to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA). In his speech, Lapid said that Israel should freeze construction outside the so-called “settlement blocs” and also added that, ahead of the next stage of negotiations, Israel should “draw a map in which we define the blocs, where we have to freeze construction and where it is possible to reinforce it. There is no reason to keep avoiding the necessity of drawing out the State of Israel’s future borders,” he said. Israel, he noted, “needs to come to the next round of peace talks with detailed maps, prepared by us, that express a wide national consensus. These maps would allow us to formulate a three-part move that, at the end of which, we will be completely separated from the Palestinians and reach a wide-reaching accord with the moderate Arab states.” Detailing the three stages of his proposed plan, Lapid called them “preparations,” “trust building,” and the final stage, “agreement.” The reason these maps haven’t been drawn until now is that they entail the need to freeze construction outside the major settlement blocs. But this sort of freeze is not a threat to us, and is not a concession on our part. It is exactly what we need to do. “There’s no reason to continue building settlements in areas that won’t remain inside Israel’s borders in any future accord, and there’s no reason to invest billions in infrastructure that we would eventually give the Palestinians as a gift. I would rather invest the money to improve the lives of Israeli children, not in improving the lives of Palestinian children.” “I don’t have a problem with construction in Gush Etzion or in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, but building in isolated settlements is causing international damage that is only getting worse, and financial damage that every Israeli citizen can feel. “These settlements cost us too much. They have a bad effect on economic growth, the gross national product and our financial relations with the world. “In addition to the billions we lose by building redundant infrastructure, we’re losing billions more that we could have otherwise used to lower taxes, increase security and improve civilian services.”
Furthermore, Israel Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) said that his party would be leaving the coalition government if it does not negotiate with the Hamas-Fatah unity government, regardless of the fact that Hamas is a terrorist group. “I believe that the peace talks will be renewed. It’s clear to me that will happen, and if not, we won’t be in the government,” said Cohen. “It’s clear to everyone, also Jewish Home, that it’s impossible to reach the status of a bi-national state. There’s no choice other than two states,” added Cohen.
Reacting to these comments, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Yair Lapid, “inexperienced”. Netanyahu said, “Anyone who has political experience knows that one does not make concessions without receiving anything in return, particularly with a government which includes a terrorist organization that wants to destroy Israel. We have seen in Gaza what is the outcome of a unilateral withdrawal,” referring to the 2005 Israeli “Disengagement” from Gaza which resulted in endless rocket attacks on southern Israel. Netanyahu added, “we must not allow ourselves to make the same historical mistakes made by the Israeli left, which always gives away its position before talks have begun, and causes the Palestinians to demand more and more… this is not the way you conduct negotiations, certainly not in this region.” Netanyahu said that he “will continue to lead the State of Israel while maintaining the national interests of the citizens of Israel.”
According to Israel Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel of the political party, Jewish Home, said that the Hamas-Fatah agreement is a continuation of the Palestinian “sabotage” of negotiations. He said that Israel should respond by building thousands of homes in the West Bank. As a result, Israel approved building of 3,000 new homes in the West Bank. The units, which were originally to be approved with release of a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners at the end of March that was never carried out, will include 400 units in Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem, and another 1,100 to be divided between the settlements of Efrat, Beitar Ilit, Adam and Givat Ze’ev. In addition, another 1,500 will be approved for construction in other settlements throughout the West Bank.
Israel is studying the possibility of annexing parts of the West Bank. Knesset Land of Israel Caucus leaders MKs Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) and Orit Struck (Jewish Home) said Abbas crossed a red line by cooperation with Hamas and, as such, the government should begin gradually annexing the West Bank. Jewish Home leader, Naftali Bennett presented his plan for annexing Area C in the West Bank. This is part of the West Bank still under Israeli control following the 1993 Oslo accords. Bennett said, “The sovereignty program that I proposed is the only available option today [for dealing with] the Palestinian rejection of peace [with Israel] and the [Israeli] Left’s refusal to accept this solution,” he said. The time has come to go on the offensive, rather than act defensively and “do what is good for Israel,” Bennett declared.
Under the plan, Israel will gradually annex Area C of Judea and Samaria, where 400,000 Israelis reside alongside some 70,000 Arabs, while creating an enhanced autonomy in the remaining areas with full freedom of movement. The first area to be annexed would be Gush Etzion, an idea Bennett recently brought up during a speaking appearance at Bar Ilan University. The second part of the plan includes offering Israeli citizenship to 70,000 Arab residents living in the areas to be annexed, resulting in 1.77 million Israeli Arabs instead of 1.7 million today. “With the formation of the Hamas-Fatah government, we must recognize the truth – the Oslo era is over. After 21 years of trying one way which included unilateral withdrawals, concessions, releasing terrorists, disengagement and a unilateral separation – it’s time to admit that it does not work,” said Bennett in his speech. “We discovered that when you run away from terror and throw away the keys – the terrorists come after you. We left Gaza, and thousands of rockets are falling on us today,” he continued. “It’s time to think creatively how to build a better reality here for the citizens of Israel and for the Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria,” added Bennett, referring to his annexation plan. “They’re already running their own lives. They have a parliament of their own, their own education systems, their own rule, and even elections and that will continue,” he stressed. “We have no interest in running their lives for them. Additionally, we will upgrade infrastructure and create transportation contiguity for all residents – Jews and Palestinians – who live in Judea and Samaria. It is important to remember that true peace grows from below.”
Bennett went on to attack the false hopes touted by the left for years. “I know the plan is not perfect and does not realize the utopian dream that was launched in that handshake between Yitzchak Rabin and Yasser Arafat 21 years ago in the Rose Garden at the White House,” he said, but added, “This plan gives the Palestinians an independent government and economic prosperity while giving us, the State of Israel, sovereignty, stability, security and a maintaining of our homeland.”
Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid, strongly attacked Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett’s plan for Israel to annex Area C in Judea and Samaria, describing it as “delusional”. He said: “Extreme rightist elements are pushing us toward delusional ideas of annexation that will lead us to a disaster known as a bi-national state,” he charged, adding, “I do not know if this is a PR stunt or a genuine intention, but we will not let that happen.” Lapid threatened to bring down the Netanyahu government if it decides to unilaterally annex the West Bank. Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief peace negotiator, told the conference her party would also withdraw its support for the government if Netanyahu tries to annex any part of the West Bank without Palestinian agreement. Her Hatenuah party and Yesh Atid command 25 of the coalition’s 68 seats. At present, there is not enough support in the government for an annexation plan, and Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has pledged to block any such efforts. The government is not expected to make any decisions about annexation in the next six months while the focus is on Palestinian elections.
Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized Netanyahu’s lack of coherence in the government’s proposed policies on the Palestinians attacking him for not leading his cabinet and demanding that he formulate a plan that would represent the entire coalition. “What happened recently, when four senior ministers gave public addresses one after the other with each proposing a different political solution, was a grotesque performance,” said Lieberman. Lieberman added that “one minister spoke of annexation, another minister spoke of deliberation, a woman minister spoke of segmentation, and the last spoke of stagnation. That is not a government policy. We need to cut down and adopt a single political plan to bind all parts of the coalition.” Lieberman called on Netanyahu to formulate a coalition policy. “We need to do this as soon as possible, because if we do not do it of our volition we will be dragged towards what we do not want and what is not in our best interest.” Lieberman said that he supported a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians, “but only as part of a package which also solves our relations with the Arab world and the issue of Israeli Arabs. It must be part of a package deal.”
On the Left, opposition leader Isaac Herzog of the Labor party called for the government to be careful and responsible and wait to see how the new Palestinian government behaves and whether it accepts the Quartet’s conditions: Recognizing Israel and previous agreements and committing to stop terror. “Israel’s security interests require a stable Palestinian Authority,” he said. “I recommend that we do not have sanctions or take unilateral steps. We might regret those steps later.”
For the time being, the United States said that it would work with the Fatah-Hamas unity government. The United States said that it will work with the Palestinian Arab unity government and maintain aid, while “watching closely” to ensure it respects the principle of non-violence. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US believes Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has “formed an interim technocratic government… that does not include members affiliated with Hamas. With what we know now, we will work with this government,” Psaki said. She said the Obama administration has no intention of cutting off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, which amounts to roughly $500 million a year
Israeli ministers rebuked the US decision to work with the new Palestinian unity government. “Unfortunately, American naiveté has broken all records. Any collaboration with Hamas which kills women and children is unacceptable,” said Israel Communications Minister Gilad Erdan. “This American capitulation can only damage chances of resuming (peace) negotiations,” Erdan said. Israel Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said, “I have to say I do not understand this American announcement. You cannot present it as a Hamas government internally, then present it publicly as a government of technocrats,” he said. “If these (ministers) are people who identify with Hamas, Hamas identifies with them and appointed them, then they are representatives of Hamas. This is a Hamas government, and Hamas is a terror organization,” he said.
While the Obama administration said that it would continue aid to the Fatah-Hamas unity government, the US Congress responded to the PLO announcement of a Fatah-Hamas unity government by threatening to discontinue US aid just as the Obama administration said it would work with the new government. US financial aid to the PA through 2014 has already been appropriated by the US Congress. But the funds have not been obligated: the State Department must approve requests by the PA on how the funds will be allocated. Funding for 2015 has not yet been drafted, however, and already, members of the appropriations committees on Capitol Hill are suggesting a cut in aid because of the deal. “As long as Hamas rejects the Quartet principles and the existence of the State of Israel, United States funding for this unity government is in jeopardy,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, expressing “deep disappointment” with the development. “Hamas is no partner for peace, nor a legitimate recipient of aid,” Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “While the ‘unity government’ hides behind the facade of nonpartisan bureaucrats, it was only born out of support from Hamas – a terrorist organization that continues to call for Israel’s annihilation.” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said its leadership was “greatly concerned and disappointed,” and suggested it would push for a cutoff in aid. US law is clear – no funds can be provided to a Palestinian government in which Hamas participates or has undue influence,” the AIPAC statement read. “We now urge Congress to conduct a thorough review of continued US assistance to the Palestinian Authority to ensure that the law is completely followed and implemented.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is calling on the Obama administration to suspend aid to the new Palestinian unity government forged between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. Cantor, though, said recent conflict in the region and reports of corruption within the Palestinian Authority “raise serious doubts both about the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to forge peace with Israel and about its ability to govern in a transparent and responsive manner.” The laws of the United States prohibit assistance to terrorist organizations,” Cantor said. “The administration, in consultation with Congress, should initiate an immediate review of this new government,” he continued. “Until such time that it is determined that assistance to this so-called technocratic government is consistent with our own interests, principles, and laws it is incumbent on the administration to suspend U.S. assistance.”
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Palestinian unity government prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections
2) Palestinian elections to be held in 6 months
3) US Promises PLO Unity Elections in ‘East Jerusalem’
4) Israel restricts movement of Palestinian ministers
5) Hamas set to gain more control in West Bank, PM says
6) Israel: Hamas must not be allowed to run in Palestinian elections
7) Hamas Reveals: Abbas Told Us He is ‘Tricking the Americans’
8) Lapid, Ariel: Hamas-Fatah government shows Palestinians don’t want peace
9) Security cabinet reviewing action plans after Palestinian unity gov’t takes oath
10) Israel’s response to PA unity gov’t: Building 3,000 new units beyond Green Line
11) US lawmakers question aid to new Palestinian unity government
12) Cantor: Suspend US aid to Palestinians
13) Yesh Atid MK: Peace Talks with Hamas or No Coalition
14) Netanyahu to Lapid: We Saw the Results of Unilateral Moves
15) Netanyahu responds to Lapid’s slight, calling him ‘inexperienced’
16) Bennett Presents Annexation Plan: The Oslo Era is Over
17) Bennett: Annexation of Area C is the best response to Fatah-Hamas government
18) Lapid threatens to bring down gov’t that annexes West Bank
19) Bennett Dismisses Criticism: ‘Keep Talking – We Will Act’
20) Israel Minister Says Annexing West Bank ‘Only Sane Plan’
21) Lieberman slams Netanyahu’s lack of leadership
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