You may view the 5 minute update this week via 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,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l