Archive for January, 2015

January 17, 2015: Weekly 5 minute update

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

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 situation with the Israel / Palestinian peace process

After failing to pass a UN Security Council resolution at the end of December to recognize a PLO state based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capitol, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians intend to draft a new resolution calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state to be submitted to the UN Security Council in the near future. Abbas made the announcement at a recent Arab League meeting in Cairo. “Nothing will ever deter us from continuing our march towards obtaining the rights, freedom, and independence of our people,” Abbas said.

The new proposal, like its predecessor which the UN Security Council failed to pass in December, will call for a state along the pre-1967 lines and will be in accordance with the Arab League Peace Initiative, a 2002 proposal brought forward by Saudi Arabia that promises normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for its complete withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and a “just settlement” for the Palestinian refugees issue.

The Arab League authorized the Arab League Council to seek international support for resubmitting to the UN Security Council the Palestinian resolution calling for establishing a timeline for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines. Abbas said that he will listen to the committee, made up of the Palestinians, Jordan, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Kuwait, and is committed to their decisions regarding the timing of the proposal’s submission.

The decision was taken at the end of a recent emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Egypt. The ministers called for pursuing efforts to seek international support for the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. They voiced support for Palestinian efforts to join international conventions and treaties, including the International Criminal Court. Furthermore, the Arab League reiterated its “absolute” opposition to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This “racist” demand would have “grave consequences for the Palestinians and the region,” it said. Finally, it rebuked Israel for its decision to withhold over $100 million in tax revenue collected on behalf of the PA in light of the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to turn to the International Criminal Court over alleged Israeli war crimes committed in last summer’s Gaza Strip war.

Palestinian officials said that several Arab countries put pressure on the PA not to turn to the Security Council at this time in order to not strengthen Israeli right-wing parties before the March 17 Israeli elections. Abbas said that the upcoming Israeli election in March was not reason enough to renew negotiations. “The resumption of talks requires an international position especially from the United States,” said Abbas. “The Americans have long talked about ideas for negotiations but so far have not submitted anything,” he said adding that the Palestinians were not going to continue negotiations without a clear strategy in mind.

Meanwhile, France announced plans to draft its own proposal seeking a clear solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. French President Francois Hollande desires that this initiative will eventually include an international conference on the issue.  The French have communicated their idea to the United States and most other European states. In December, France along with Britain and Germany worked on presenting a UN Resolution aimed at reviving the peace process. However, they could not agree on a text before the Palestinians presented their UN Resolution for a vote on December 30.

The French want the new initiative to be a framework for the implementation of previous UN Resolutions 242 and 338 that would enable an international conference to held on the subject. The proposed framework would limit the negotiations for a two-state solution to a period of two years. The French proposal will seek a two-state solution based upon Israel’s 1967 lines that will differ from the current Palestinian plan. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 will be a key component in such a plan, offering the legitimacy (both in the West Bank and within the Arab world) Abbas needs in order to agree to any future negotiation process. It is also the element that can bring other pragmatic Arab leaders on board, primarily Egypt. The United States does not oppose the French idea. The United States has already given general approval for the European Union to present policy initiatives and reactions against Israel’s settlement policies. The Palestinians are skeptically open to the idea.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated that he was working with US Secretary of State John Kerry in order to develop an agreeable draft proposal separate from that of the Palestinians. Fabius said it was highly unlikely that the new proposal will be unveiled before Israeli national elections in March. France worked for weeks on an alternative to the last Palestinian resolution at the UN Security Council but its more moderate draft was rejected by Abbas.

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is open to discussing a regional peace plan that would include a Palestinian state. “We have to reach a political arrangement here,” said Liberman, “Not because of the Arabs but because of the Jews. We need to reach an arrangement here in the region. First of all, because this is important for our relations with the European Union and the United States. For whoever doesn’t know — and I’m sure most of you do — our largest market is the EU.”

Pointing to EU sanctions on Russia, Liberman argued that it is impossible to maintain good economic relations when the political and diplomatic relationship is under stress: “It does not work. We must internalize this. And we see when there is a deterioration in the diplomatic relations, what happens to the economic. And I can give the example that is closest and most familiar to me — what is happening in Russia. And the more developed a country is, the more sensitive it is to every political decision, or every change in the complex economic relations.”

Still, he said, there is not yet a crisis with Western allies. “It is far from a tsunami… What we have now is a soft breeze. If we do not initiate, we will face a diplomatic tsunami.” The foreign minister said that a regional agreement with Arab states would allow Israel to devote more resources to research, development and technology.

Liberman criticized Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his lack of initiative in finding a solution to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. “There is a status quo…a step forward and a step back. There is no initiative. I stand for initiative. We must initiate. Whoever doesn’t initiate, loses. This approach has failed…I have respect for Netanyahu, but for now, my approach is more appropriate for this time. If you want a veto from the US [in hostile UN proposals] you need to understand that you can’t lash out against it,” Liberman said. “We have to come up with policy recommendations, we cannot be constantly saying no, no, no. Within the context of the crisis on the Middle East, it is imperative that Israel initiate solutions and push them forward. We must adopt a pragmatic approach, because without it, it won’t matter if we’re right,” he said.

A top Russian diplomat said that the United States is preparing a UN resolution that it intends to eventually be submitted to the United Nations Security Council to restart the peace process. “We have the U.S. text at our disposal,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Gennady Gatilov. The American plan, Gatilov said, is a response to the French proposal. That the Americans have proposed their own text is a sure sign they proceed from the understanding that some [Security Council] resolution is necessary.” American officials at the U.N. declined to comment on Gatilov’s remarks. However, US State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “There is a perception [that] we have never supported any U.N. action related to Israel, and that is not true. We have supported a range of actions in the past. What we haven’t supported is steps that are unilateral actions that predetermine the outcome of negotiations.” The United States doesn’t want to present any UN Resolution regarding the Israeli / Palestinian conflict before the March 17 Israeli elections.

According to senior European officials,  a peace process initiative which will be proposed by France and Great Britain in coordination with the United States following the establishment of the next Israeli government will include political, security and economic elements. A senior EU diplomat said: “Whatever the current efforts at the UN Security Council, the real architecture of a future peace process will await the establishment of the next Israeli government.” Europe, in his view, will not acquiesce to the status quo anymore. Progress toward Palestinian statehood is a must, not only in regard to the Palestinian plight but also in the context of the European anti-terror campaign. Europe believes that the US administration sees eye to eye with them on this issue.

The peace process “package” that the Europeans have in mind attaches a time line of two years for the negotiations (without the Palestinian demand of a deadline for the end of the occupation). It also consists of a settlement freeze during the talks, security measures against terror in the demilitarized Palestinian state with a temporary Israeli presence and a monitoring role for third parties. The all-important issue of borders will be alluded to by a reference to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for a border demarcating based on the 1967 lines with mutual land swaps and a shared capital in Jerusalem. The same goes for the sensitive issue of Palestinian refugees, which must be resolved in a “just and agreed upon way.”

On the security issue, European policy officials have considered proposing the deployment of Egyptian forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in coordination with the Palestinians and the Israelis. The economic component of this initiative is inadvertently linked to the dividends of a peace process. This would mean tremendous economic benefits for both countries, preferential trade and new opportunities for scientific and technological research and development in cooperation with European institutions.

In case of refusal, the alternative — according to the European source — would be additional punitive measures for Israeli settlement policies, including a more comprehensive boycott of Israeli goods originating east of the Green Line. Such a refusal could also entail donor fatigue for the Palestinians. As a result, the likely outcome following the March 17 Israeli elections will revolve around the link between a viable peace process and the economic benefits of such a process as opposed to diplomatic stalemate and economic isolation and meltdown.

Perhaps in preparation for a potential US-British-French UN Resolution after the March 17 Israeli elections, the Middle East diplomatic Quartet (United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia) will meet on January 26 to discuss the next steps to address the Israeli-Palestinian Arab crisis peace process. “The Quartet envoys will meet at the end of this month to discuss the way ahead,” U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the UN Security Council. She said that the status quo “unsustainable.”

However, the Palestinians have made it clear that they oppose further direct negotiations with Israel mediated by the US, saying 20 years of such talks have not produced results. Palestinian UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour said: “We are willing to negotiate, but now in a different way, through an international conference or a collective process.”

Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of remaining “committed to the three no’s. He will not negotiate, he will not recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and he will not make peace.” He accused the Palestinian Authority of committing “every form of diplomatic treachery” last year by abandoning peace talks, forming a government with Hamas, honoring “convicted terrorists” and breaking its word by signing up to join dozens of treaties and conventions including the ICC.

Likud Central Committee chairman Danny Danon called on Israel to respond to an eventual expected UN recognition of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the “state of Palestine” by declaring sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. “We must clarify in the clearest terms to the world that every unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will bring Israeli sovereignty,” declared Danon.”If the UN recognizes a Palestinian state, the state of Israel must respond with unilateral steps (as well), including implementing sovereignty,” said Danon.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on April 1. In a statement posted on the UN’s treaty website, the secretary-general said “the statute will enter into force for the State of Palestine on April 1, 2015.” In acceptance of the Palestinian application to join the ICC, Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda opened an initial probe to see if war crimes have been committed against Palestinians, including during last year’s summer war between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. “Today the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine,” her office said in a statement, adding it may lead to a full-blown investigation.“A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with a (full) investigation,” Bensouda said. Depending on her findings, Bensouda will decide at a later stage whether to launch or quash the investigation, based on the initial probe.  The inquiry will examine “in full independence and impartiality” crimes that may have occurred since June 13 last year. This allows the court to delve into the war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza in July-August 2014.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki welcomed the move. “Everything is going according to plan, no state and nobody can now stop this action we requested,” he said. “In the end, a full investigation will follow the preliminary one.” He said that he was satisfied with the decision, calling it “a positive step in attaining justice and protection for the Palestinian people. We hope that Israel will now understand that international law must be respected,” he said. Nabil Abuznaid, head of the Palestinian delegation at the ICC said: “The case is now in the hands of the court. It is a legal matter now and we have faith in the court system.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also praised the ICC decision as a “step in the right direction.” He called for pursuing all efforts to bring Israeli leaders to trial. Another Hamas official, Izzat al-Risheq, said his movement was prepared to provide the ICC with documents and reports about “Israeli war crimes” against the Gaza Strip. He said that the ICC decision was very important adding that Palestinians have waited for many years for this move.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was “absurd” for the International Criminal Court to decide to begin a probe into possible war crimes committed during the war between Israel and Hamas this past summer in Gaza. “It is absolutely scandalous that just days after terrorists butchered Jews in France, the general prosecutors is beginning an inquiry against the state of the Jews, and this only because we defend our citizens from Hamas, a terrorist organization that is allied with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas war criminals fired thousands of rockets at Israeli citizens,” the prime minister said. “Unfortunately, [this probe] renders [the ICC] part of the problem, and not part of the solution.”

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman also harshly criticized the ICC announcement, calling it a “scandalous decision whose only goal is to try and harm Israel’s right to defend itself against terror. We will not tolerate it and I will recommend that we don’t cooperate with this so-called probe,” he said. “Israel will act in the international sphere to bring about the dismantling of this court which represents hypocrisy and gives impetus to terror. This same court which after more than 200,000 deaths didn’t see fit to intervene in what was taking place in Syria or in Libya or in other places now finds it worthwhile to ‘examine’ the most moral army in the world,” the foreign minister said. “This decision entirely stems from anti-Israel political considerations. The apparent symmetry created between the two sides is a ruse whose goal is to target Israel since it is clear to everyone that it is impossible to compare the IDF, which does all it can to avoid harming innocent civilians in contrast to terror groups who fire on populated areas in order to hit civilians,” Liberman said.

Finally, US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke  said: “We strongly disagree with the ICC prosecutor’s action today. It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC. As the United States has said repeatedly, we do not believe that Palestine is a state and therefore we do not believe that it is eligible to join the ICC. The place to resolve the differences between the parties is through direct negotiations, not unilateral actions by either side.”

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Abbas says he’s planning new UN statehood bid
2) Abbas says Palestinians to submit new statehood bid ‘soon’
3) Arab League backs Palestinian plan to resubmit UN bid
4) France promotes regional framework for Mideast conflict
5) Liberman said to be in Paris for new diplomatic initiative
6) Can America Avoid a U.N. Showdown Over a Palestinian State?
7) Europe, US will offer Israel and Palestine economic benefits
8) ‘If UN Recognizes Palestine, Israel Must Annex in Judea-Samaria’
9) Quartet to Meet to Discuss Israel-PA Peace
10) US, UN, EU, Russia to meet on Mideast in late January
11) UN chief says Palestinians to join ICC on April 1
12) ICC prosecutor opens probe into alleged Israeli war crimes
13) ICC opens inquiry into possible war crimes committed by Israel, Palestinians
14) Netanyahu blasts ICC for ‘absurd decision’ to open war crimes probe
15) Netanyahu denounces ICC, says war crimes probe ‘proves it is part of the problem’ 
16) FM calls to dismantle ICC after launch of ‘war crimes’ probe
17) US pans ICC war crimes probe of Israel as ‘tragic irony’
18) Hamas, PLO hail ICC probe into Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l

January 10, 2015: Weekly 5 minute update

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

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 situation with the Israel / Palestinian peace process

After failing to pass a UN Security Council resolution at the end of December to recognize a PLO state based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capitol, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians will resubmit their statehood resolution. On January 2, the Palestinian leadership decided to refile that request. “We will go back to the Security Council until it recognizes our rights,” Abbas said. “We didn’t fail, the UN Security Council failed us. We’ll go again to the Security Council, why not? We are determined to join international conventions and treaties despite the pressure from others.”

On January 1, five new nations joined the UN Security Council. They were: Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Venezuela and Spain. Collectively, these nations are more sympathetic to recognize a PLO state than the five nations that they replaced on the UN Security Council. Jordan, which submitted the Palestinian UN resolution that was defeated in the Security Council, will remain a member of the Security Council during 2015.

The Arab League foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on January 15 to discuss the Palestinian issue. “The meeting will review a number of issues, the main one being the developments regarding the Palestinian case, especially after failing to pass the UN bid,” Arab League Deputy Secretary General Ahmed Helly said. The meeting will also discuss “future steps to support the Palestinian position,” Helly said.

The Jordanian government is not enthusiastic about the Palestinians wanting to resubmit their UN resolution. Jordans believes that the move is too-hasty and destined to fail again if the Palestinians do not reach an agreement – specifically, with the United States and Great Britain, and the international community – on a clear-cut path for returning to the negotiating table with Israel. Jordan prefers renewing peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians rather than the Palestinians resubmitting a UN Security Council resolution for recognition of a PLO state which will only complicate the current diplomatic situation.

In fact, Jordan’s King Abdullah tried during his December visit to the United States to promote the resumption of negotiations as per a plan supported by the Americans. However, the Palestinians surprised him by unilaterally turning to the Security Council. On the eve of the UN Security Council vote during the last week of December, the Jordanians sought to delay the vote and carry on with discussions regarding the Palestinian resolution – mainly with the United States. But PA President Mahmoud Abbas insisted on continuing with his plan, and wanted the vote to take place even at the risk of a U.S. veto. Abbas argued that since it first placed its statehood proposal on the table of the Security Council, the United States has not presented a single blueprint that will guarantee even the minimal Palestinian demands for a resumption of peace negotiations with Israel.

France warned the Palestinians against escalating a diplomatic battle with Israel after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would resubmit to the UN Security Council a resolution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “We are against the logic of letting this spiral (out of control). While we think the Palestinians have the right to move the status quo, at the same time there has to be an effort to find a consensus solution. Once you set this cycle off, you get results that you don’t want one way or another.”

Meanwhile, France had been working prior to the Dec. 30 UN Security Council vote on the Palestinian resolution on a separate resolution with Britain and Germany that aimed to set the parameters and a time frame for new peace talks. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “We worked on this resolution believing we could achieve a consensus but it wasn’t possible,” indicating that France was likely to back a new Palestinian resolution provided the text remained broadly unchanged. However, Fabius questioned the wisdom of resubmitting the resolution, adding he would discuss the issue with Jordan, Egypt and other regional players. “The real question is to understand what is Palestinian motive behind this move. Is it to get an American veto with a new UN Security Council composition? Is it to reaffirm an attitude towards the Israeli government? We don’t know.”

Meanwhile, Hamas said it was “totally opposed” to Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s plans to re-submit to the UN Security Council a resolution on forcing Israel to withdraw from the West Bank. “Hamas is totally opposed to any return to the UN Security Council by the Palestinian Authority,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. “Such a step would be political foolishness which plays a dangerous game with the destiny of our nation. Mahmud Abbas and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority should completely stop this political foolishness,” Abu Zuhri said.

On December 31, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed applications for Palestinian membership in 20 international organizations and treaties including the International Criminal Court. Abbas signed the applications at the beginning of an emergency meeting of PLO and Fatah leaders following the Palestinian UN Security Council resolution to recognize a PLO state did not pass. The Palestinian leaders voted unanimously in favor of the decision to join international organizations and treaties. Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that the applications to join the international organizations and treaties would go into effect in 90 days. The signing ceremony was broadcast live on Palestine TV.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Palestine will join the International Criminal Court on April 1. In a statement posted on the UN’s treaty website, the secretary-general said “the statute will enter into force for the State of Palestine on April 1, 2015.” The ICC registrar addressed a letter “to the government of Palestine accepting this declaration and transmitted it to the prosecutor for her consideration.” The president of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, Senegal’s Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba, “welcomed the deposit by the State of Palestine of the instruments of accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” after being notified by Ban that he had officially received the Palestinians’ application. He said he was acting as the “depositary” for the documents of ratification. A statement said that “the deposit of the instruments of accession by the State of Palestine,” effected as of January 2, had brought the number of state parties to the Rome Statute to 123. Kaba added, “Each ratification of the Rome Statute constitutes welcome progress towards its universality. I call on all members of the United Nations to join this permanent and independent system of international justice to fight against impunity and prevent the most serious crimes under international law, which is based on the principle of complementarity with domestic jurisdictions.”

In response, the US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “Palestine is not a state, and therefore does not qualify for membership in the International Criminal Court. The US will oppose the Palestinian Authority’s move to join the body, and several others at the United Nations, as technically flawed.”

The Obama administration believes that the PA’s ICC bid runs contrary to the pursuit of peace, and is a major setback to the diplomatic process. American officials are also examining whether the move violates US appropriations law for the continuation of Palestinian aid. The United States provides roughly $400 million in aid to the PA on an annual basis.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Palestinian moves to apply for membership at the International Criminal Court and to seek statehood unilaterally via the UN had pushed the prospects of peace off the table. He indicated that he wanted an accommodation with the Palestinians in principle but that a two-state solution was impractical for now given the Palestinians’ desire to get unilateral recognition at the UN. Netanyahu said that Palestinian leaders were the ones who should be prosecuted in the ICC over their unification with rival faction Hamas. “It is the Palestinian Authority leaders – who have allied with the war criminals of Hamas – who must be called to account,” he said. “IDF soldiers will continue to protect the State of Israel with determination and strength, and just as they are protecting us we will protect them, with the same determination and strength.”

Asked whether he still supported Palestinian statehood, including the dismantling of settlements, Netanyahu replied: “With the terms that they want, at the moment it’s simply out of the question. Any territory that we would evacuate in the current reality, everybody understands, will be grabbed immediately [by extremist forces].” Netanyahu said the Palestinian strategy had “emptied of all content” and hindered his readiness to work for a two-state solution as set out in a landmark speech he gave at Bar-Ilan University in 2009. “I don’t want a binational country… but the Palestinians have chosen confrontation. They’re not going to negotiations. They’re going to the UN, to the International Criminal Court, to sue Israeli soldiers, commanders as war criminals. I mean, seriously, let’s give them the territory? Close our eyes? We did that. It happened in Gaza. We saw what happened. Hamas won.”

In response to the Palestinians submitting an application to the UN to join the ICC, Israel decided to implement economic sanctions against them. Israel froze the transfer of a half a billion shekels (about $125 million) from tax funds collected on behalf of the PA by Israel and which are normally distributed every month to them. Israel is also looking at ways to prosecute senior Palestinians for war crimes in the United States and elsewhere. Israel would probably press these cases via non-governmental groups and pro-Israel legal organizations capable of filing lawsuits outside of Israel. An Israeli official said that the Palestinian leaders “ought to fear legal steps” after their decision to sign onto the Rome Statute. “(Hamas) … commits war crimes, shooting at civilians from civilian populated areas,” the official said.

The United States said it opposes a move by Israel to freeze the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority in retaliation for its bid to join the International Criminal Court. US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki said: “We’re opposed to any actions that raise tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. And obviously, this is one that raises tensions. What we are trying to avoid here is a back and forth tit-for-tat,” Psaki said.

The European Union (EU) also condemned Israel’s decision to freeze the transfer of taxes collected for the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a penalty for joining the International Criminal Court (ICC). Without directly mentioning the unilateral PA attempt to join the ICC, European Union foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said that “recent steps taken…could aggravate the already tense situation on the ground and bring them further away from a negotiated solution. She criticized Israel for “not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues.” The tax freeze “runs counter to Israel’s obligations” agreed in 1994 following the Oslo Accord,” she said. “Both sides should refrain from taking actions which could raise obstacles to the rapid return to the negotiations,” she added. “An effective Palestinian Authority, committed to non-violence and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, is a key element for a two-state solution,” Mogherini said. She further stated that the EU was a major source of financial assistance for the PA.

In response to the Israeli decision to freeze sending monthly tax money to the Palestinians, the Arab League has agreed to provide emergency funds to cover the VAT-taxes frozen by Israel. VAT taxes are earned by the Palestinian Authority and collected by Israel. Timely transfers of the VAT-taxes are essential to keeping economic and social stability in the West Bank. They constitute 70-percent of the Palestinian Authority’s revenue and finance the bulk of salaries and public services in the West Bank such as hospitals and schools. Palestinian leaders say Israel has sent no direct communication to their government regarding the suspension of VAT taxes.

In mid-September when terms for a ceasefire and reconstruction in Gaza were being brokered following the summer war with Israel, the Palestinian Authority held talks with the Arab League to secure a financial commitment with the expectation Israel would withhold transferring revenue as a punitive measure in the near future. In a December meeting with the Arab League, the Palestinians received a commitment of direct support of $100 million a month for each month Israel withheld transferring VAT taxes. All 22 foreign minsters of member countries to the Arab League attended the December meeting. It was held in Cairo three weeks before Jordan submitted a United Nations Security Council Resolution to end Israel’s occupation and days before Palestinian leaders discussed their United Nations plans with Secretary of State John Kerry in London.

“There is an agreement with the Arab countries that they will have a safety net, funds that will be available to us. Funds of around $100 million a month that will help with the Israelis and any other countries that could threaten to withhold funds,” explained Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Negotiations Affairs Department spokesperson Ashraf Khatib. Khatib said that the Palestinian plan to make up for the anticipated loss of VAT-tax revenue and the move at the ICC are both parallel long-term strategies. This Arab League safety net will help the Palestinians avoid the expected temporary bankruptcy and allow them to move forward with pressing for war crimes at the ICC. Khatib explained that the Palestinian leadership has spent the past two years in preparation of filing charges against Israel in the ICC and that teams of international law experts have been hired to assemble portfolios for two possible cases against Israel. Khatib said no decision has yet been made on which case will be presented to the court but the possibilities include potential war crimes committed in Gaza in 2014 and violations to the Fourth Geneva Convention in the West Bank.

Palestinian leaders have yet to release a timetable of when they will seek charges against Israel but the general strategy is that submitting a complaint with the ICC will compel the international community to create new parameters for negotiations rooted in the framework of international law. In fact, financial support from the Arab League was a key component, along with joining the ICC, of a long-term strategy to pressure Israel into negotiations. The goal of these negotiations from the Palestinian perspective remains the creation of a Palestinian state based on pre-June 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, an end to the Israeli occupation and the right of return for Palestinian refugees based on return and compensation.

Ambassador Dennis Ross, the United States’ chief negotiator for Arab-Israeli issues from 1993 to 2001 and an Obama adviser 2009-11, argued that while it is fair to ask Israel to accept the basic elements facilitating peace — “1967 lines as well as land swaps and settlement building limited to the blocks” — it is also “time to demand the equivalent from the Palestinians on two states for two peoples, and on Israeli security.” Ross noted that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s latest efforts to pressure Israel via the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court will do nothing to alter the reality on the ground, and blamed the Palestinians for dooming three previous efforts to resolve the conflict through negotiation. The Palestinians need to “respond to proposals and accept resolutions that address Israeli needs and not just their own,” he argued.

A veteran senior Middle East official in both Republican and Democratic administrations going back to the Carter presidency, Ross recalled that “since 2000, there have been three serious negotiations that culminated in offers to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Bill Clinton’s parameters in 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts last year.” On each occasion, Ross wrote, “a proposal on all the core issues was made to Palestinian leaders and the answer was either ‘no’ or no response. They determined that the cost of saying ‘yes,’ or even of making a counteroffer that required concessions, was too high.” Unfortunately, Ross elaborated, “Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice; its anti-colonialist bent and its deep sense of grievance treats concessions to Israel as illegitimate. Compromise is portrayed as betrayal and negotiations – which are by definition about mutual concessions – will inevitably force any Palestinian leader to challenge his people by making a politically costly decision.”

Ross continued, “European leaders who fervently support Palestinian statehood must focus on how to raise the cost [for the Palestinians] of saying no or not acting at all when there is an offer on the table. Palestinians care deeply about international support for their cause. If they knew they would be held accountable for being non-responsive or rejecting a fair offer or resolution, it could well change their calculus.” Ross blamed “most Europeans” for being “focused far more on Israeli behavior” than Palestinian intransigence. The European Union (EU) and others in the international community need to stop enabling the Palestinian Arabs to make demands without making concessions.

Ross, who resigned from his post as Middle East adviser in 2011, relates that he met with a European official recently who praised the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s unilateral moves against Israel in international agencies and organizations, specifically the draft resolution PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas submitted to the United Nations (UN) Security Council during December. Ross urged European leaders to “raise the cost of saying ‘no’ or doing nothing at all” for the PA in future negotiations – and, at the very least, to offer a “balanced” proposal for a peace deal which included land swaps, but also allowing “security arrangements that leave Israel able to defend itself by itself” and a resolution recognizing Israel’s own character as a Jewish state. Resolutions are typically about what Israel must do and what Palestinians should get. If saying yes is costly and doing nothing isn’t, why should we expect the Palestinians to change course?”

If the upcoming Israeli elections produce an Israeli leadership that is “prepared to take a peace initiative and build settlements only on land that is likely to be part of Israel and not part of Palestine, there will be no need for a United Nations resolution,” Ross said. But if not, and if the Europeans then opt to return to the UN route, any resolution they back “must be balanced,” he emphasized. “It cannot simply address Palestinian needs by offering borders based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps and a capital in Arab East Jerusalem without offering something equally specific to Israel — namely, security arrangements that leave Israel able to defend itself by itself, phased withdrawal tied to the Palestinian Authority’s performance on security and governance, and a resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue that allows Israel to retain its Jewish character.”  However, any such resolution would likely be rejected by the Palestinians, acknowledged Ross, just as they had rejected the necessary compromises in 2000, 2008 and 2014.” In doing so, Ross said that the Palestinians should bear consequences in terms of international support after so many failed attempts to bring peace.

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Abbas: Palestinians will resubmit statehood resolution
2) Arab League to Discuss PA Draft Resolution
3) Report: Amman angered by Palestinians’ UN bid
4) France warns Palestinians over escalating crisis with UN bid
5) Hamas ‘Totally Opposed’ to PA Statehood Bid
6) Abbas signs Rome Statute, paving way for possible war crimes probe against Israel at ICC
7) UN chief says Palestine will join ICC on April 1
8) US: Palestine not a state, does not qualify for ICC membership
9) Following ICC application, Israel freezes $125 million in Palestinian tax funds
10) US opposes tax freeze on Palestinians for ICC bid
11) EU Condemns Israel for Freezing PA Tax Money
12) Despite punitive Israeli tax freeze, Palestinians to pursue war crimes charges with Arab League financial help
13) Peace chances mothballed by Palestinian moves, Netanyahu says
14) Former US Negotiator: Stop Giving PA Free Rein
15) Dennis Ross: Europe must push Abbas to compromise for peace

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l

January 3, 2015: Weekly 5 minute update

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

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 situation with the Israel / Palestinian peace process

On December 17, the Palestinians through the Jordanians with the support of the Arab League submitted a UN Security Council draft resolution for recognition of a Palestinian state based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. However, at that time, the US which has veto rights at the UN Security Council rejected supporting the draft resolution because the Palestinians insisted that deadlines be set to end the Palestinian / Israel conflict. US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said: “We don’t think this resolution is constructive and (…) advances the goal of a two-state solution. We think it sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion. Further, we think that the resolution fails to account for Israel’s legitimate security needs, and the satisfaction of those needs, of course, are integral to a sustainable settlement,” Rathke said.

Nevertheless, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by phone that the Palestinians would press ahead with the initiative. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian strategy is to change the status quo. “This status quo is not sustainable and will not continue…Either this Palestinian Authority will lead Palestinians from occupation to independence, or Israel — the occupying power — will resume its full responsibilities as an occupying power,” Erekat said.

As a result, the Palestinians requested that the UN Security Council vote on the matter. There are 15 member nations on the UN Security Council. Nine votes are needed to pass.  All 22 Arab countries endorsed the Palestinian draft. Representatives of the Arab countries in the United Nations claimed that they had managed to secure a majority of nine votes at the UN Security Council needed to pass the resolution for the Palestinians. Diplomats said France was seeking negotiations on the latest Palestinian draft resolution in the Security Council but that their idea was rejected by the Arab group. France was working on a more moderately-worded proposal to the Security Council, which it tried to merge with the Palestinian proposal. Their efforts were rejected by the Palestinians. However, despite the rejection of the French proposal to negotiate a compromised Palestinian proposal, Arab representatives persuaded France and Luxemburg to vote in favor of the Palestinian draft resolution. The vote was taken on December 31.  However, the resolution failed. Eight countries voted in favor of the motion – China, France, Russia, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Luxembourg – two opposed – US and Australia – and five abstained – UK, Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea, Rwanda.

Prior to the vote, Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu had this to say about the Palestinian draft resolution:”We expect the entire international community, at least its responsible members, to strongly oppose this dictate to the UN and the Security Council. What we need is direct negotiations and not dictated terms,” Netanyahu said. “If the international community does not reject the Palestinian Authority’s proposal, we will do so. Israel will oppose any conditions that endanger its security.” After the Palestinian draft resolution was rejected, an Israel Foreign Ministry official said: “This vote was a clear message from international community to the Palestinians: Do not try to use tricks to replace direct negotiations.”

In explaining the reasons why the US voted NO, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said “Instead of giving voice to the aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis, this text addresses only one side. The United States voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because … peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table. The United States every day searches for new ways to take constructive steps to support the parties in making progress toward achieving a negotiated settlement,” she added. “The Security Council resolution put before us today is not one of those constructive steps.” The resolution, continued Power, ” is deeply imbalanced and contains many elements that are not conducive to negotiations between the parties, including unconstructive deadlines that take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”

As a result of the YES vote by France, Israel called the French representative to Israel to protest their vote. Israeli officials were surprised that France would support the Palestinian draft resolution after the Palestinians rejected efforts by France for a compromise proposal. The President of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a key Jewish organization fighting anti-Semitism, Abe Foxman said: “The vote by France in favor of the resolution raises questions about France’s ability to play a constructive role in helping to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One-sided measures such as this resolution will not bring about the reconciliation of Israel and the Palestinians. They reward Palestinian intransigence and delay the arrival of an independent state for the Palestinians. It is time to let President Abbas know that he will not achieve a Palestinian state by evading negotiations with Israel,” concluded Foxman.

The Palestinian representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour, responded to the defeat by accusing the Security Council of being “paralyzed” adding that it was time to end the “abhorrent Israeli occupation and impunity that has brought our people so much suffering.” Mansour said: “The result of today’s vote shows that the Security Council as a whole is clearly not ready and willing to shoulder its responsibilities in a way that would … allow us to open the doors for peace. It is thus most regrettable that the Security Council remains paralyzed,” he charged.

PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said “the UN Security Council vote is outrageously shameful.” Referring to the five countries who abstained – Britain, Lithuania, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Korea – she added “those countries that abstained demonstrated a lack of political will to hold Israel accountable and to act in accordance with the global rule of law and international humanitarian law.” She said that it is “ironic that while the UN designated 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, the resolution failed to pass as an indication of a failure of will by some members of the international community.”

Ashrawi claimed that the articles of the Palestinian resolution are consistent with declared American policy, international law, and the requirements of peace. “The extent to which the US has gone to protect Israeli impunity and lawlessness and to enable its criminal behavior is disgraceful and dangerous,” she added. Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that the Palestinian resolution is “fully in line with international law.” He said that certain countries “continue to ensure impunity to the Israeli occupation and its severe international law violations by not voting in favor of the resolution.”

Abbas’s unity partner Hamas, the terrorist organization ruling in Gaza, slammed him for the UN move, with Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum saying, “this was a unilateral decision taken by Abu Mazen (Abbas) who has taken the Palestinian decision-making process hostage. He is now facing two choices after this failure…he must make good on his threats to end security cooperation with the occupier, and sign the Rome Statute,” said Barhum.

Jordan’s UN Ambassador Dina Kawar, the Arab representative on the Security Council, said after the vote, “The fact that this draft resolution was not adopted will not at all prevent us from proceeding to push the international community, specifically the United Nations, towards an effective involvement to achieving a resolution to this conflict.”

If the Palestinians thought that they had the 9 votes for their resolution to pass, how did they end up not getting the 9 votes so that the resolution did not pass ? Israeli diplomats say that the US played a crucial role in the defeat of the Palestinian resolution. An Israel official from the Foreign Ministry said: “The US had a very significant role. Not only were they willing to veto, they also worked side-by-side with Israeli diplomats in order to prevent support for the decision within the Security Council. It’s not that they just said they would vote against it. They worked. There were phone calls and messages. The American diplomatic effort is noteworthy.”

Apart from the critical help from the United States, the results of the Security Council vote are also a testament of the diplomatic achievements made by Israel Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who marked Africa as a target for Israeli diplomatic efforts. The African nations proved themselves loyal during the moment of truth with the support of Rwanda and Nigeria who abstained. Representing the Netanyahu government, Lieberman set out on a trip that began in September of 2009 in which he visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda. In June 2014, Lieberman returned to Africa and visited Rwanda, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

A key nation in defeating the Palestinian draft was Nigeria. The Palestinians thought that Nigeria would be one of the nine countries who would vote for the Palestinian resolution. However, in the end, it became the nation that swayed from Palestinian support to abstention and by doing so enabled the prevention of the unilateral Palestinian resolution to pass. High-ranking officials within the Israel Foreign Ministry had already come to terms with the fact that Nigeria would give Palestinian the ninth vote majority and that the US would then use its veto to defeat the resolution. However, the events played out differently. “We discovered that the Nigerians did not submit and did not break down and voted according to their conscience. What finally tipped the balance was a phone call made by Netanyahu to the President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan.”

The Nigerian president is a good friend to Israel. In the last year, he visited Israel twice – the most recent visit occurred two months ago when Jonathan arrived in Israel on his private plane in order to lead mass for 3,000 Nigerian pilgrims in Jerusalem and place a note at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Jonathan met with Netanyahu and the two discussed a variety of subjects, including Nigeria’s way of voting in the UN Security Council. Israel attached great importance to the visit. It was clear that Nigeria would be a pivotal country if the Palestinians were to gain the necessary majority.

It should be noted that up until recently, Nigeria had the habit of automatically voting with the Palestinians – marking a historical change in the country’s voting patterns. Part of the change stemmed from the tightening relationship between Israel and Nigeria and from the common interests of the countries in the fight against global terrorism. Israel was one of the first nations in the world to offer the Nigerians help in the struggle against the Boko Haram terrorist group. According to various reports, Israel also sold the Nigerians weaponry to be used in the struggle, while the US had enacted an arms embargo against Nigeria

Every year, 30,000 Nigerians make their way to Israel. During Jonathan’s last visit to Israel, Israel launched an airline agreement with Nigeria that will introduce direct flight between the two countries. Israel not only cooperates with Nigeria in the war on terror but also in the fields of agriculture, construction, communication, intelligence and more. More than 50 Israeli companies operate in Nigeria in the civil engineering, energy, communication, and security industries among others.

Other than Nigeria, Rwanda was also a key African country that helped the Israeli effort to prevent the Palestinian resolution from passing in the UN – although their vote came as no surprise. Israel has very good relations with Rwanda, especially between Lieberman and Rwanda’s foreign minister and between Netanyahu and the Rwandan president. Israel and Rwanda have several business relations and the foreign ministry invests in aid to Rwanda in several different categories. In addition, another country that proved itself a loyal ally to Israel was Lithuania – which also abstained from voting.

PA chairperson Mahmoud Abbas responded to the failure of the resolution by calling a meeting with Palestinian representatives who discussed whether the Palestinians should join the International Criminal Court (ICC) and seek to hold Israel on trial for war crimes. As a result of that meeting, the Palestinians decided to sign the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the ICC. Abbas also signed applications for Palestinian membership in 20 other international organizations and treaties. The Palestinian decision was unanimous. The signing ceremony was broadcast live on Palestine TV. Hamas welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s decision to join 20 international organizations and treaties as a “step in the right direction.” Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that the applications to join the international organizations and treaties would go into effect in 90 days.

Referring to the decision to join the ICC, Abbas said, “We want to file a complaint [against Israel.) We are being attacked. Our lands are being attacked every day. Who are we going to complain to? The Security Council has let us down. There’s an international organization and we’re going to it to complain.” Abbas told his party representatives: “Last night we got a veto. This is not the first and last veto. But we will remain steadfast and we will continue until we achieve our rights. They don’t want to give us our rights. Rights are not given; they are extracted.”

The Palestinians still have many obstacles before any Israeli (and not Israel as the ICC only deals with individuals) will be potentially tried at the International Criminal Court. The process is as follows:

1. The ICC Prosecutor must recognize Palestine as a full member and accept its signature to the Rome Statute. This is not guaranteed since the UN Security Council has not done so, but it probably will as foreshadowed by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a recent related decision.

2. The Palestinians must officially file a complaint against individual Israeli soldiers and leaders. This is also far from guaranteed as it could expose the Palestinians to “mutually assured legal destruction” with the Palestinians facing probably worse war crime cases for indiscriminate rocket fire and Israelis facing complex grayer fog-of-war cases, in the Palestinians’ best scenario.

3. The ICC Prosecutor must decide based on the complaint to order a preliminary examination and then a full criminal investigation. It cannot do this unless it shows that Israel refuses to or is unable to investigate itself. Israel investigating itself does not require a set number of convictions, just reasonable investigations and Israel has already ordered 13 investigations into the Gaza war.

4. The ICC Prosecutor, not Palestine, decides whether or not to indict. To indict, the prosecutor would need to believe there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict that there was essentially intent to murder, whereas many incidents in war are foggy and involve mere negligence or mistake.

5. Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute or the ICC and, like some other countries which have directly or indirectly ignored the ICC, could choose not to give its citizens or evidence over for trials.

6. The Palestinians cannot file complaints relating to any date before November 29, 2012, when the UN General Assembly recognized Palestine, and Israel, if it joined the ICC could not file complaints relating to any date earlier than July 1, 2002, the effective start date of the ICC.

The United States said it “strongly opposes” a request from the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), fearing this will further delay peace talks with Israel. US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said: “The United States is deeply troubled by the Palestinian action to join the ICC. It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people. Actions like this are not the answer,” Rathke said, calling the latest action “badly damaging” and one of many that “undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace. It is counterproductive and would do nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace. As we’ve said before, the United States continues to strongly oppose actions — by both parties — that undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace,” it continued. “Our position has not changed. Such actions only push the parties further apart.”

In response to the Palestinian application to join the ICC, Israel froze $127 million in Palestinian tax revenues which Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians. Previously, Israel had threatened to do if the Palestinians decided to submit an application to join the ICC.

An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Palestinians submit revised statehood draft to UN
2) Palestinians to submit revised resolution to United Nations for Israel withdrawal
3) Palestinian UN Bid Aims to Force Solution on Israel
4) UN Security Council rejects Palestinian statehood resolution
5) Ambassador Power: PA’s Resolution was Not Constructive
6) U.S.: Palestinian UN bid fails to account for Israel’s security needs
7) Behind the UN vote: How the Palestinian bid was defeated
8) Israel to call in French envoy to protest vote in UN Security Council
9) PLO: Attacks ‘Outrageously Shameful’ Votes Against PA UN Bid
10) ‘UN Security Council Has Reached a New Low with PA Bid’
11) Report: PA to Join International Criminal Court
12) Abbas signs Rome Statute, paving way for possible war crimes probe against Israel at ICC
13) Everything you wanted to know about the ICC
14) US ‘Strongly Opposes’ PA ICC Request
15) US to Palestinian Authority: ‘Actions like this are not the answer’
16) Israel freezes Palestinian funds in response to ICC bid

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,

Eddie Chumney
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l