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 conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip
Hamas started launching rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel on July 8. After 50 days of fighting, the 12th ceasefire between the two sides was agreed upon on August 26. Over the course of the conflict, Hamas fired almost 4,000 rockets at Israel including some 600 rockets launched from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities. The ceasefire agreement was brokered by Egypt. It is open-ended. It is very close to the proposal that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected on July 15, the eighth day of the fighting. The outline of the agreement is as follows:
• Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza halt all rocket and mortar fire into Israel.
• Israel stops all military action, including air strikes, ground operations and targeted killings.
• The Palestinian Authority will lead coordination of the reconstruction effort in Gaza with international donors, including the European Union, Qatar, Turkey and Norway. Saudi Arabia is also likely to be a major donor, with the expectation in Jerusalem being that unlike Qatar, it will take pains to ensure that its funds will not be directed to Hamas, but rather to build up the PA.
• Israel is expected to narrow the security buffer – a no-go area for Palestinians that runs along the inside of the Gaza border – reducing it from 300 meters to 100 meters if the truce holds. The move will allow Palestinians more access to farmland close to the border.
• Israel will extend the fishing limit off Gaza’s coast from 3 miles to 6 miles, with the possibility of widening it gradually if the truce holds. Ultimately, the Palestinians want to return to a full 12-mile international allowance.
• Israel agrees to open the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings to the supervised transfer of goods, including humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment, into the Gaza Strip.
Channel 2 reported that a three-person committee made up of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will supervise the process and determine what goods are allowed in.
Israel is demanding the tight monitoring of imports of construction materials like cement and cast iron to make sure they are used to rebuild homes, not destroyed terror tunnels, as well as ensuring that weapons, ammunition and any “dual-use” goods are prevented from entering Gaza.
Longer term issues to be discussed:
• Israel will demand that the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Gaza be linked to the enclave’s demilitarization, as called for under previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Jerusalem’s formula will be that the extent of building above ground in Gaza must be linked to the degree to which “underground” Gaza is dismantled.
• Hamas wants Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners rounded up in Judea and Samaria following the abduction and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in June. Among those arrested were some 60 prisoners freed in the Gilad Schalit deal, and 37 Palestinian parliamentarians, including 35 affiliated with Hamas.
• Israel will demand the return of the remains of slain IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.
• Hamas wants to rebuild an airport and seaport in Gaza, as well as the transfer of funds to allow it to pay 40,000 police, government workers and other administrative staff who have largely been without salaries since late last year. The funds were frozen by the Palestinian Authority.
The ceasefire agreement was approved by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was not put to a Cabinet vote. Netanyahu explained why he decided to opt for a ceasefire with Hamas as opposed to continuing the campaign and removing Hamas from power. Netanyahu said while it is still possible that the IDF will eventually topple Hamas altogether, “today, when I look around and I see Al Qaeda on the [border] fence, and ISIS galloping into Jordan and already in Lebanon, and in Lebanon there is Hezbollah that is a little larger than Hamas, and Iran that backs it, and Iran [itself] – and I say, in the face of these combined threats, we set a goal in the Israeli Cabinet, to deal Hamas a very severe blow, and we did this, with the thousand terrorists we killed, the senior commanders, the tunnels, the rockets… I decided not to put all of our military resources into removing Hamas from power and not be able to still have military resources to fight some of Israel’s other threats in the region.” Netanyahu said that once the tunnel threat had been dealt with, Israel pulled out the IDF forces from Gaza because he didn’t want soldiers getting killed and abducted. “Why do I need to go in? If I can hit them from the air and get the effect of grinding them without risking soldiers’ lives, why should I go in?”
Netanyahu said that the US dealt with a similar situation in the past, with Fallujah in Iraq. Fallujah is one-tenth the size of Gaza, he noted, and the US fought valiantly against the Islamists there, and thousands of Iraqis were killed. But after the US pulled out of Fallujah, the Islamists took over again. In order to prevent this from happening in Gaza after Israel would have toppled Hamas, he explained, the Israeli army would have to remain in the Gaza and this would be very costly to Israel. He said that Hamas has been “ground,” it is isolated, and will not be able to rearm. He vowed that he will not allow “drizzles” of rocket fire from Gaza, and these will be answered with heavy IDF fire.
As a result of the ceasefire, several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders appeared in public Among them was Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of the Hamas political wing, and senior Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi who gave a rousing victory speech to thousands of people gathered in a square in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood. “We’re going to build our port and our airport, and if they attack the port, they attack the port. But anyone who attacks the airport will have their airport attacked again,” Zahar said. Zahar also said that in addition to rebuilding Gaza, Hamas would continue “arming itself and developing its resistance capacity.”
Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that “there is no chance” that Hamas will receive a seaport in Gaza which was one of its demands as a precondition for a ceasefire. He said: ” “there is no chance that Hamas will receive a seaport – it is not in Israel’s interest, it is not an Egyptian interest, it’s not even in the interest of the Palestinian Authority.” From a military perspective the victory is clear – everything the IDF touched, it defeated the other side,” said Ya’alon, who added that the military achievements led to a ceasefire which is good for Israel and bad for Hamas, seeing as Hamas was forced to accept the Egyptian proposal over the Qatari initiative which was more favorable to Hamas.
However, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticized the open-ended ceasefire deal reached between Israel and Hamas and said that Israel should not make political agreements with Hamas. He said: “As long as Hamas controls Gaza it is impossible to guarantee the safety of Israel and no accord can be reached – be it political or military. We must not and cannot trust such despicable murderers. Therefore we object to the ceasefire which offers Hamas the ability to continue to grow strong and fight future battles with Israel whenever it feels like. Israel must make sure that Hamas makes no political gains from this ceasefire.
Israel’s Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that the military operation against Hamas “cannot end with a ceasefire. The operation needs to end only after Gaza has been demilitarized. We cannot limit ourselves to easy achievements. The test of leadership is to find hope in every situation and to turn into something practical. The political process (with the Palestinians) must be on the table. We need a control mechanism which will lead to an eventual disengagement (between Israel and the Palestinians), and we need it now more than ever.”
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that an indefinite cease-fire agreement reached between Israel and Hamas in Gaza “is an opportunity, not a certainty. We are approaching the next phase with our eyes wide open. We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead,” Kerry said. “Today’s agreement comes after many hours and days of intensive discussions about how a sustainable ceasefire might provide the space and the opportunity to address long-term issues.” Kerry said that “certain bedrock outcomes” are minimal requirements for such a long-term solution, including a guarantee for Israel that terrorist attacks, rocket firings, and tunnel construction will cease, as well as the establishment of full economic and social opportunities for Palestinians, and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
As a result, the US government is working toward presenting to the UN Security Council a comprehensive proposal for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. The proposal calls for the disarmament of all militant and terror groups in the Hamas-controlled Gaza leaving the Palestinian Authority the only armed force. Under the terms of the proposal, all tunnels between the Gaza Strip and both Israel and Egypt will be destroyed as well. The proposal is set to be presented to the Security Council following negotiations over key issues between Israeli and Palestinian representatives which are scheduled for September in Cairo. The issues to be discussed include Hamas’s demands for a wider lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip — imposed by Israel and Egypt to prevent Hamas importing weaponry — as well as for a port and an airport, and the release of prisoners, as well as Israel’s calls to demilitarize Gaza.
However, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal threatened to resume fighting Israel if the Hamas demands were not met and said that Gaza will never disarm its “sacred” weapons. “The rockets and tunnels exist; if the negotiations fail and there is a need, we will return to war until we reach our goals,” he said. “The issue is not up for negotiations. No one can disarm Hamas and its resistance,” he stated.
French President Francois Hollande said that Europe needed had to play a bigger role to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and could no longer just play the role of a “bank window” for reconstruction after each war. The European Union is the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s biggest economic partner, accounting for almost a third of its exports and imports.”For a solution to finally be reached, the United States’ role will be decisive,” Hollande said. “We have to go towards a progressive lifting of the blockade and the demilitarization of the Gaza” he said. Hollande said that once the ceasefire was consolidated the path to peace would have to be taken as quickly as possible. “Everyone knows the conditions: a democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side with an Israeli state living in security.”
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the ceasefire agreement “might have” presented an opportunity for a diplomatic breakthrough in the region although it was incumbent on the Palestinian Authority to “give Hamas a divorce” in order for that to become a reality. “Today there might be a new set of circumstances that enable us to act in a way that on the one hand we could advance our security interests and also launch a responsible diplomatic process on the basis of this new reality,” Netanyahu said. However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would “have to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas,” meaning that he would need to dismantle the unity government in Ramallah that has Hamas’ official backing. “If he chooses the path of peace, and I think he understands today that he needs to choose that over Hamas, which not only calls for our destruction but also wishes to topple him,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas recently tried to remove Abbas from power in the West Bank and Israel prevented it from happening. Abbas needs to choose between peace with Israel or Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “It’s one of the two. I can only hope” that Abbas “gives Hamas a divorce,” Netanyahu said.
Israel Justice Minster Tzipi Livni and Israel’s chief negotiator in the peace process with the Palestinians said that Israel must either renew peace talks with the Palestinian Authority or brace for a diplomatic backlash from the international community. In this post-war reality, “either we resume negotiations with the Palestinians to reach a permanent agreement, winning the world’s support, or we will find ourselves isolated, talking about not wanting to talk to those who have an agreement with Hamas [a reference to the unity pact with the Palestinian Authority], while having an agreement with Hamas [Israel’s recent ceasefire deal negotiated in Cairo]” she said. Livni criticized PA President Mahmoud Abbas, saying he was difficult to negotiate with and took actions in the international sphere she did not agree with, like threatening to join the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but stressed that if the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to engage him in talks, it would face “a diplomatic or legal intifada following this [military] operation.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas have agreed on a three-phase plan that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. The plan calls for giving the United States a period of four months to draw the borders of the Palestinian state and win Israel’s recognition for a PLO state. If the two sides agree on the plan, they would launch immediate negotiations with a defined timetable during which Israel would be requested to present a map showing its own borders. If the plan is rejected, the Palestinians, together with the Arab countries, would ask the United Nations Security Council to “evict Israel from the land of Palestine.” If this move also fails, the Palestinian leadership would resort to the third option, which is joining international treaties and conventions, including the International Criminal Court, in order to file “war crime” charges against Israel. Abbas said he would present his initiative to US Secretary of State John Kerry during their meeting in early September.
Turning to the International Criminal Court became an option for Abbas in 2012, after the UN General Assembly recognized “Palestine” in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands captured by Israel in 1967, as a non-member observer state. The upgrade to a state opened the door to requesting the court’s jurisdiction in Palestine.
Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office denied a report suggesting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders and to the establishment of a Palestinian state in those territories. In an interview with Palestine TV, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Netanyahu agreed to establish a Palestinian state on land Israel captured in the 1967 war and that the only remaining step was to set a border. Abbas said that he would demand from Israel and the US to outline specific borders for a Palestinian state. If Israel does not respond, “we will join the International Criminal Court” he said. “We are willing to wait a day, a week or a month for a Palestinian state” Abbas said, “but not 20 more years.”
According to Nabil Sha’ath, a former Palestinian Authority foreign minister and chief PLO negotiator, the PLO will submit an application to the UN Security Council on September 15 demanding a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. The Arab League will meet on September 5 to discuss how to support the Palestinian plan. If the request is turned down, the PLO will apply to join the International Criminal Court. “Taking the case to the ICC is conditional upon the UN Security Council response to our request,” Sha’ath said.
Hamas has signed a pledge to back any Palestinian bid to join the International Criminal Court. In July, Abbas said he would not make a move without the written consent of all Palestinian factions. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader, said that “Hamas has signed the paper” of support Abbas had requested. A senior Palestinian official has said Abbas likely would wait for the findings of a UN-appointed commission of inquiry into possible Gaza war crimes – due by March – before turning to the court.
Finally, Israel chief peace negotiator, Tzipi Livni warned against the threats of Abbas saying that Abbas “will have to understand a Palestinian state will not be established in UN institutions. Whatever the Palestinian people can achieve, they can achieve in the negotiating room. We need a comprehensive diplomatic process,” she stated.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Outline of Protective Edge cease-fire agreement with Hamas
2) Netanyahu on Gaza Pullout: We Didn’t Want a Fallujah
3) Ya’alon: ‘No Chance’ Hamas will Get a Seaport
4) FM Lieberman slams Gaza truce: No accord with Hamas
5) Lapid: Gaza op not over until Gaza demilitarized
6) US reportedly pushing Gaza demilitarization at UN
7) ‘We will never disarm,’ vows Hamas chief
8) Abbas blames Hamas for prolonged battle with Israel
9) Hollande: Europe must work towards lifting blockade, demilitarizing Gaza
10) Gaza operation could present opening for diplomatic breakthrough, Netanyahu says
11) Livni: Resume peace talks or brace for diplomatic intifada
12) Report: New UN Resolution Demands Talks Based on 1949 Lines
13) Report: Abbas, Hamas agree on plan for independent Palestinian state
14) PA to tell UN: Force Israel out of W. Bank, or we’ll seek war crimes charges in The Hague
15) Abbas, Mashaal seek UN timetable to ‘end Israeli occupation’
16) Hamas backs International Criminal Court bid
17) PM dismisses claim he agreed to state on 1967 lines
18) Livni, Lapid dismiss Abbas plan
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