Archive for May, 2015

May 26, 2015: Weekly 5 minute update

Thursday, May 28th, 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 status of the Israel / Palestinian peace process

After seeing the new Israeli coalition government of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that was formed on May 7, U.S. President Barack Obama does not have faith in the new Israeli government’s commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. Obama said: “I continue to believe that a two-state solution is absolutely vital for not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state. And I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don’t necessarily believe in that premise. But that continues to be my premise. That prospect seems distant now. But I think it’s always important for us to keep in mind what’s right and what’s possible.”

Obama called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “a very difficult challenge.” Obama said his administration had “worked very hard” to achieve a peace deal but “the politics inside of Israel and the politics among the Palestinians, as well, made it very difficult for each side to trust each other enough to make that leap. And what I think at this point, realistically, we can do is to try to rebuild trust — not through a big overarching deal, which I don’t think is probably possible in the next year, given the makeup of the Netanyahu government, given the challenges I think that exist for President Abbas — but if we can start building some trust around, for example, relieving the humanitarian suffering inside of Gaza and helping the ordinary people in Gaza to recover from the devastation that happened last year; if we can do more to create business opportunities and jobs inside the territories, if we can slowly rebuild that kind of trust, then I continue to believe that the logic of a two-state solution will reassert itself.”

Obama said. “And Israel has legitimate security concerns. There’s no doubt about it. And what is also true is I’m deeply committed to a Palestinian state.” Obama said he had told the Israelis “you cannot remain a state that is both a democracy and Jewish if you continue to have this problem unresolved. And with respect to the Palestinians, I’ve said that you cannot expect to have a state of your own and the full dignity and respect that is inherent for all human beings if you also don’t recognize Israel because Israel is not going anywhere. I think that people of good will on both sides understand that. Unfortunately, the politics of fear has been stronger than the politics of hope over recent years, partly because of the chaotic situation in the region overall. And it’s going to take some time to rebuild it.

Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice strongly reaffirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to the two-state solution that leads to a sovereign Palestinian state. She said: “The U.S. remains firmly committed to an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state, living alongside a democratic Jewish state of Israel in peace and security.” Rice said while reassessing the U.S. approach to the Palestinian Israeli conflict, President Obama made it clear that resolving the conflict is in the national security interest of the United States.

The day before the most recent elections in March, Netanyahu said in an interview that the conditions in the region were currently not ripe for a Palestinian state, and agreed with the assertion that one would not be established under his tenure. The Obama administration jumped on those comments as a sign he was no longer committed to a two-state solution, and said that as a result it would “reassess” its position regarding Mideast diplomacy. This was interpreted by the Netanyahu government as a threat to withdraw diplomatic support for Israel in the UN Security Council.

Regarding this issue, Netanyahu said: “Before the elections, I was asked in an interview [about the possibility of a Palestinian state coming into being on my watch], and I replied that I don’t estimate it will happen. I don’t think it will happen,” he said. “After the elections, they jumped on it, so I explained my position.” At no time did he rescind his agreement in principle to the creation of a Palestinian state, as long as it was demilitarized and recognized Israel as the Jewish homeland, Netanyahu asserted. “I did not renounce the idea, but I explained what’s the problem with it,” he said. “If the Palestinians change their positions then it’s a different situation.”

Rice said that she expects a commitment to the two-state solution from the new Israeli government and from the Palestinian Authority. “We look to the next Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to demonstrate — through policies and actions — a genuine commitment to a two-state solution,” she said.

She defined the requirements needed for the long-stalled peace deal.  “There must be robust provisions for Israel’s security, the occupation must end and the Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves in their own sovereign state.” she added. She said the Obama administration opposes the Israeli settlement activities and efforts to change facts on the ground because it makes it harder to negotiate peace in good faith. “Both Israel and an independent Palestinian state need secure and recognized borders based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps.” Rice said. She said the U.S. continues to believe that a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians is “necessary, just and possible.”

In addition, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman called for Netanyahu’s new government to support peace negotiations with the Palestinians. She said: “If the new Israeli government is seen as stepping back from its commitment to a two-state solution – that makes our jobs in the international arena a lot tougher because our ability to push back our efforts to internationalize the resolution of the conflict. Israeli-Palestinian issues has depended on our insistence that the best course in achieving a two-state solution is through direct negotiations between the parties.”

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that the US is evaluation its position regarding whether it would support a UN Security Council Resolution desired by France to spell out parameters of a two-state solution. DEBKA an Israeli intelligence and news gathering website reports that the Obama administration behind the scenes have given support for France to support a UN Security Council motion proclaiming an independent Palestinian state. In order to show their sincerity for such a proposal, senior US officials sat down with their French counterparts to agree on the general outline of this motion. They discussed the area of the Palestinian state, its borders, security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians and whether or not to set a hard-and-fast timeline for implementation, or phrase the resolution as  a general declaration of intent. Incorporating a target date in the language would expose Israel to Security Council sanctions for non-compliance. The French have said they are moving forward on wording of a resolution that would present the parameters of a final deal and set a time line for negotiations. In these meetings, the US told France that the Obama administration would prefer to give Netanyahu a lengthy though predetermined time scale to define his new governments Palestinian policy.

Recently, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius presented the Arab League with a detailed plan to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The plan stipulates the formation of a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 lines, with swaps of mutually agreed upon lands similar in size, while taking into account Israel’s security needs. If a two-state solution is not reached by the end of the 18 months of talks, France will announce it is officially recognizing the State of Palestine. The French plan calls for the two-state for two-peoples solution but includes the demand for the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish nature of Israel.

Fabius said that he would travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories in June with the goal of getting an international consensus for a UN Security Council resolution that would set parameters for peace talks. “We are for a two-state solution. We need to ensure Israel’s security that’s obvious. There is no peace and security without justice for the Palestinians but let’s be frank justice hasn’t been given to the Palestinians,” Fabious said. “I will go … to Egypt, the Palestinian territories and Israel to speak to their leaders,” Fabius said. “We want the negotiations to restart between the two sides and that [they are] put within an international framework.”French diplomatic sources said the planned resolution would not go beyond already agreed negotiating points but would set a time period of 18 to 24 months to complete the talks. It would kick off with an international conference.

A senior French diplomat said: “The US method hasn’t worked so we felt the idea was to create the conditions to support this negotiation by creating an international support group which would include Europeans, Arabs, Americans and anyone who thinks they could be of use.” French sources said the target could be to put a resolution forward during the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Israel is opposed to Palestinian efforts to pass a resolution through the Security Council that would call explicitly for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital. US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said: “I won’t say whether we will or not support or vote on a resolution we have not seen. We are trying to find a way to preserve the two-state solution as a realistic solution during a period without negotiations, and to bring the sides back [to the talks] – even at a later period – and to defend Israel against threats of isolation and delegitimization,” he said. “I assume that the new Israeli government will take into account the international situation, and if Israel is committed to two states, we will talk about the best way to move forward toward that goal, even during a period when its impossible to hold direct negotiations,” he said.

The US was pressing France to delay presenting its Security Council proposal until after June 30, the deadline for a final deal between world powers and Iran on its nuclear program. The US wants the French to delay their proposal until after the Obama administration wins congressional support for the Iran deal not wanting to jeopardize that support by pushing forward with another proposal opposed by Israel.

The international community will renew its pressure on Israel over Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after Iran and the six powers sign a final nuclear deal at the end of June, Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende said. Brende told Netanyahu that the new Israeli government must come up with its own diplomatic peace initiative. Netanyahu responded by saying: “I hear you loud and clear.”

In response, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented three conditions that need to be fulfilled by Israel in order to resume negotiations: Freezing construction in the settlements; releasing all Palestinian prisoners jailed prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and holding negotiations for no more than 12 months, at the end of which a timetable will be set for ending the occupation no later than the end of 2017. Brende told Netanyahu that he will have to agree to at least one of the three conditions set by Abbas.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) stated it was the Palestinians who abandoned last year’s US-led negotiations. The newly appointed Hotovely told Brende that the Palestinians must cease to undertake unilateral steps against Israel in the international arena, and that the EU must condemn terrorism more forcefully. “We expect you to put pressure on the Palestinian leadership to recognize the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people,” Hotovely said.

Meanwhile, the European Union has threatened to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions against Israel if it does not resume peace talks with the Palestinians. EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said: “The development of relations between the EU and both Israel and the Palestinians is linked to the extent of their commitment to the peace process.” Some diplomatic circles believe that the EU has prepared a list of sanctions to be imposed on Israel based on a request from the EU parliament and Mogherini should Israel not support peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Furthermore, European diplomatic officials said that if Netanyahu wants to convince the Europeans of his commitment to a two-state solution, he should declare a construction freeze outside the main settlement blocs. By doing so, such a measure would “make clear the prime minister is serious about maintaining the two-state option open. It would seriously enhance Israel’s diplomatic credibility.”

One Israeli official familiar with the Netanyahu-Mogherini talks said that Netanyahu told Mogherini that were clearly areas in the West Bank that would remain on the Palestinian side after an agreement, and there were areas that would clearly remain part of Israel after an agreement. He said the goal was to see whether it was was possible to come to understanding on the areas that would remain inside Israel, so that building there could take place.

According to the European official, the idea of delineating the settlement blocs is not new, and Netanyahu has for some time tried to convince individual EU member states to differentiate between condemning settlement construction taking place inside or outside the blocs. Both the Europeans and the United States make no distinction in their condemnations of construction beyond the 1967 borders regardless of where it it taking place.

Efforts to get approval for Israeli construction inside the major settlement blocs are not new. They go back to the understandings former Israel prime minster Ariel Sharon had with then US president George W. Bush about where and how Israel could build in settlements. Those understandings were never adopted, however, by the Obama Administration. Much of Israel’s settlement construction in the last number of years has been inside the major settlement blocs. David Makvosky, a member of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s negotiating team during the talks that failed in 2013-2014, said earlier this month that 98 percent of the government tenders for settlement construction announced while those talks were ongoing – announcements that infuriated the Palestinians and the international community – took place inside the security fence. Of that, 62% of the tenders were for 1.9% of the land that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly agreed during talks with then prime minster Ehud Olmert in 2008 would remain part of Israel.

The PLO’s top negotiator Saeb Erekat issued a statement saying that the idea was “nothing new,” and called it a “request to continue illegal settlement construction with Palestinian consent.” Erekat said that if Netanyahu “wants to have meaningful negotiations ending the occupation that began in 1967, he should recognize a Palestinian State on the 1967 border and honor Israel’s obligations including a halt of settlement construction and the release of the Palestinian prisoners. The settlements in the West Bank are not legal so there is no room to discuss their borders in the first place.”

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA presidency, said that any negotiations should be based on Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. “There can be no partition or postponement of the final-status issues,” Abu Rudaineh said. “There should also be a full cessation of settlement construction and the release of prisoners incarcerated before the Oslo Accords in order for any negotiations to be credible.”

In response, Netanyahu told Mogherini, “I want peace. I am not for a one-state solution. I support the vision of two-states. I take this opportunity to reiterate Israel’s commitment to peace and my commitment to peace. We want a peace that would end the conflict once and for all. My position has not changed. I don’t support a one-state solution — I don’t believe that’s a solution at all. I support the vision of two states for two peoples — a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”

In addition, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Mogherini the new Netanyahu government was committed to pursuing a peace agreement and blamed the Palestinians for the deadlock. She said: “The Palestinians abandoned the negotiating table a year and a half ago, leaving the proposal of [American Secretary of State John] Kerry unanswered. In order for the peace process to go forward, she said that the Palestinians must come back to the negotiating table and not take unilateral measures.”

In discussing possible peace initiatives with the Palestinians, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he welcomed the general idea being the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative which called for a regional agreement between Israel and the moderate Arab states. However, the Arab Peace Initiative, originally proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, has many problematic aspects to it, the prime minister said, such as its call for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and the return of Palestinians refuges to Israel. “There are positive aspects and negative aspects to it,” he explained. “This initiative is 13 years old, and the situation in the Middle East has changed since it was first proposed. But the general idea — to try and reach understandings with leading Arab countries — is a good idea.” In the framework proposed by the initiative, all Arab and Islamic states would establish normal diplomatic relations with Israel after the successful conclusion of the peace process with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu said that there are several core problems that stand in the way of a peace treaty with the Palestinians, such as Jerusalem, which he said “will not be resolved – we’ll set this aside.” However, the most important question was security, he said. “One of the key questions will be who guarantees the security of the territories that Israel is ready to vacate?” Under every scenario in which Israel withdraws from parts of the West Bank, only the IDF will be able to guarantee Israel’s safety, the prime minister said. Israeli troops will have to stay in the West Bank “for an extended period of time,” he said.

Regarding Jerusalem, Netanyahu said: “We will forever keep Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. Jerusalem was only ever the capital of the Jewish people not of any other people.”

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

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Obama: Israeli-Palestinian peace deal unlikely in next year
2) Rice: Obama Administration Firm on Two-State Israeli-Palestinian Solution
3) Washington seeks ‘genuine’ Israeli commitment to 2 states
4) Top US Official Issues Veiled Threat to Israel on Withdrawing UN Support
5) Shapiro noncommittal on US veto of UN draft forcing Israeli withdrawal to ’67 lines
6) Exclusive: Obama to back Palestinian state at Security Council – payback for Israel’s right-wing cabinet
7) EU threatens Israel with economic and diplomatic sanctions
8) Norway to Netanyahu: International pressure on Israel will resume after June 30
9) Netanyahu tells EU’s Mogherini he’s committed to two-state solution
10) Netanyahu backs ‘general idea’ behind Arab Peace Initiative
11) UN resolution to impose 18-month deadline on Palestinian state talks
12) French foreign minister to visit Israel, Palestinian territories, in bid to revive peace talks
13) EU: Stop building outside settlements to show world commitment to two-state solution
14) Netanyahu to EU: Don’t condemn construction in defined Israeli blocs
15) Palestinians reject Netanyahu bid to define settlement blocs
16) Silvan Shalom to head up talks with Palestinians
17) Netanyahu Vows “Jerusalem Shall Never Again Be Divided”

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

May 19, 2015: Weekly 5 minute update

Tuesday, May 19th, 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 make-up of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government coalition

Meeting a May 7 deadline, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was able to form a new coalition government following the March 17 Israeli elections. Their are 120 members in the Israeli Knesset. A majority of at least 61 is needed to form a government. The political parties, Kulanu, headed by Moshe Kahlon and the Ashkenaz ultra-orthodox party, United Torah Judaism, were the first parties to join Netanyahu’s coalition.

During the elections, Kulanu ran on the political platform to improve the Israeli economy and in particular bring down the cost of housing.  In order to accomplish this objective, Kahlon said that the lengthy coalition negotiation process had focused on securing the proper tools to help implement reforms that would not aim to help one sector of Israeli society but, rather, the whole society. He said the new government would pursue reforms in housing and the banking sector and would act to close economic gaps. “The Israeli economy is in need of reforms, and we in Kulanu, together with the Likud, the prime minister and other ministers, understand how to lead these reforms,” Kahlon said.

The agreements with Kulanu include the three portfolios given to the party: the Finance Ministry, the Environmental Protection Ministry, and the Construction Ministry. Kahlon will be Finance Minister. In doing so, Kulanu managed to get the Interior Ministry’s planning authority, which has power over the housing market, moved to the Finance Ministry. “We got everything we asked for,” a spokesman for the party said, saying that the party will control the governmental organs most relevant to the housing and banking reforms Kahlon promised during the campaign.

Furthermore, the coalition agreement states that a special committee will be formed to advance legislation on housing, which would be headed by a member of Kulanu. Kulanu also received a pledge that the government will work to provide an addition of 700 housing units per year to the number of apartments for which people are eligible through the Construction Ministry and the Immigration and Absorption Ministry.

It was further stated that the Finance Minister will have the authority to expropriate lands for use in large-scale housing projects, in an attempt to encourage construction. Particular emphasis will be given to rehabilitation of neighborhoods in the periphery. Housing tenders will be offered as part of a prior plan to subsidize apartments in periphery areas for young people, and up to 80 percent of them will be allocated to young couples or single people under age 35. The document also said that the number of apartments for public housing and rentals will be expanded.

The agreement also stated that once the new government is formed, Kulanu will support a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, referred to as “the Norwegian bill”, that would allow an MK from a party that has less than 12 MKs to resign from the Knesset and serve solely as a minister.

Netanyahu praised Kahlon, saying, “We promised during the election campaign to lower the cost of housing and the cost of living, to implement a number of reforms and to continue to improve Israel’s economy.” Netanyahu said Israel’s economy already stands out from those of its allies in the West that are moving downward, while it continues on a path of financial growth. The prime minister said that both he and Kahlon, as well as everyone else who will sit in the emerging government, have the best interest of the public at heart and hope to better the citizens’ situation by continuing to grow the economy and letting everyone enjoy the fruits of this growth.

The agreement with United Torah Judaism established that the party will be given the roles of deputy minister in the Health Ministry, deputy minister in the Education Ministry, chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, and deputy chairman of the Knesset. UTJ head Ya’acov Litzman thanked Netanyahu and the Likud’s negotiating committee for coming to an agreement, saying that it covered “a lot of social items, such as issues relating to childcare and dental care.” Litzman added: “There are many more things, which included fixing issues that were distorted,” he said, referring to the Ultra-Orthodox Draft Law which required ultra-orthodox yeshiva students to serve in the Israeli military.

Besides the known amendments to the Equal Share of the Burden Law, the removal of criminal sanctions for yeshiva students who don’t serve in the military, and returning child benefits to their original levels, the agreement also said the new government will protect the ultra-Orthodox public’s way of life and will bolster the position of the ultra-Orthodox educational institutions.

The agreement also said the government will pass an amendment involving the Committee for the Appointment of Rabbinic Judges, in which three government ministers, three MKs – two from the coalition and one from the opposition – and a United Torah Judaism member will sit.

According to the agreement, the change to Israel’s conversion laws by the previous government, which gave local municipal rabbis power at the expense of the central rabbinate, will be reversed. The position of rabbinical courts will also be protected, and marriage registration will be possible only at religious councils or the local rabbinate. Additionally, the status quo regarding kosher laws will be maintained, and the government will work to include workers from the ultra-Orthodox community in public service.

Upon signing the deal with UTJ, Netanyahu said: “We worked together in the last government for the greater good of the State of Israel. We did big things. We have an opportunity to return to that now. There is a strong will to make things happen.” Finally, the agreement between Netanyahu and the political parties, Kulanu and UTJ, it includes a clause that could facilitate a national unity government with the opposition party, Zionist Union, at a later date.

Next, while there was only about 48 hours remaining until the deadline to present a new government, the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic political party, Shas, signed an agreement to join Netanyahu’s new government coalition. From the agreement, Shas will be in charge of the Ministry of Religious Services. Shas will also control the Ministry of Galilee & Negev Development and the Ministry of the Economy. Shas will also receive another ministry which will be headed by Yitzchak Cohen as well as two deputy ministerial slots and head of the Knesset Education Committee. One of the deputy ministers will oversee the District Planning Committee that moved from the Interior Ministry to the treasury. Shas will also have the power to appoint judges to rabbinical courts.

After signing the agreement, Shas leader Aryeh Deri said that he made good on his promises to voters during elections including the zero value added tax on basic necessities, public housing reform, and increasing minimum wage.

The last party to join Netanyahu’s government was Jewish Home. The agreement include promises to increase funding for soldiers, schools and settlements, as well as an agreement to push through a bill that would limit foreign funding for nonprofit organizations deemed hostile to Israel. Furthermore, Jewish Home will receive the education, justice and agriculture portfolios, the right to name a deputy defense minister from its own ranks, the leadership of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and control over the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division.The agreement also includes an increase of NIS 630 million ($163.4 million) for the education budget, an allocation of NIS 1 billion ($259 million) to raise soldiers’ pay during their third year of service, a budget increase for Ariel University, which is in the West Bank, and support for the so-called NGO bill. It also includes protection for transportation over the Green Line, increased accessibility for special-needs pupils in schools, and more funding for community groups who move to disadvantaged areas.The head of the Jewish Home political party, Naftali Bennett will be education minister. MK Ayelet Shaked will be justice minister and MK Uri Ariel  will be agriculture minister.

According to the coalition agreement, Jewish Home Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit will head a special team that will draft a plan to legalize buildings and neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria that were established with government involvement and under the agreement of the state. The team, which will be established within a month of the new government being sworn in, is to submit its outline within 60 days of being formed. The government will be obligated to act to implement the findings of the team. The talk of legalizing the buildings and communities comes after the NGO Regavim presented MKs with aerial maps showing 2,026 homes in Judea and Samaria are in danger of demolition due to anticipated petitions by radical leftist groups. While Jewish Home’s coalition deal with Likud includes establishing the team to legalize homes, it appears to have made no mention of the Jewish construction freeze, in an apparent abandonment of an earlier demand to lift the freeze. The covert freeze on building has reportedly been in place since late 2013, and has continued since then in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, aside from a handful of building announcements in the capital, even as Jewish Home was in the last coalition government and Ariel served as housing minister.

In making the coalition agreement, Netanyahu thanked the Jewish Home party leader for his “efforts during the negotiations and throughout these last weeks.” He also asserted that Israel would have a “strong, stable government.”

Netanyahu’s government now has the minimum 61 Knesset members. After the elections, it was believed that Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beitenu, would be a member of Netanyahu’s government. If so, the government coalition would be 67 members. However, Lieberman chose to not join the government and resign from his position as foreign minister. Lieberman said that he was opposed to the policies of the new government. He said: “The coalition does not reflect the position of the national camp. This government has no intention of overthrowing the Palestinian Hamas regime who rules in the Gaza Strip.” he said. Furthermore, he said: “I am happy we chose principles and not portfolios. What’s being built is not a national camp, but a government that smacks of opportunism”.

Lieberman lashed out at the disappearance of the nationality bill which sought to legally define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and determine that the right to national self determination in Israel belongs solely to the Jewish people. Lieberman said: “Someone vetoed the issue and suddenly it’s off the agenda. Furthermore, “The ink on the governance law has yet to dry and they’re already increasing the numbers of government ministers and deputy ministers to unlimited amounts. This is unacceptable,” Lieberman added. The Israeli government will be expanding the cabinet and increase the number of government ministers from 18 to 22.

Lieberman also criticized the coalition deal signed between Likud and United Torah Judaism which will cancel many of the reforms agreed upon in the last Knesset. Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman and coalition negotiator Robert Ilatov stated that if Netanyahu did not go back on the agreements he had made with the religious parties, then Yisrael Beytenu would be in the opposition.

The significance of Lieberman’s decision is that he and Netanyahu have had a long-standing political partnership, which began to fray last year. In October 2012, the two party leaders announced that they would run on a joint ticket in the January 2013 elections, as Likud Beytenu. The election victory saw Netanyahu return as prime minister and gave Lieberman the Foreign Ministry. But Lieberman pulled his party out of the partnership in July last year, and each ran on a separate ticket in the elections earlier this year. In the March 17 elections, Yisrael Beytenu won just six seats, down from 13 in the previous government.

According to political analysts, Netanyahu’s best bet to ensure his new coalition’s survival will be if he can persuade the opposition leader Isaac Herzog to join his government further down the line, perhaps in the role of foreign minister. After announcing his new government, Netanyahu hinted heavily at this prospect. “I said that 61 is a good number and 61 plus is even better,” he said, “Time is short because we have to form a strong and stable government by next week.” According to Israel Channel 2, Netanyahu desires to expand the government after it is formed, although not at the expense of parties already in the coalition.

After signing his coalition agreement with Likud, ultra-Orthodox Sephardic leader from the Shas political party, Shas Chairman Arye Dery called on Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to join a unity government. In addition, in commenting on the newly formed narrow 61 member government coalition, a senior Likud official said “a coalition of 61 MKs is an impossible coalition. Our mission in seeking to form the government was to first of all close deals with Shas and Jewish Home, stabilize a 61-MK coalition, and only then close with [Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor] Liberman. The assessment was that the odds of Liberman preferring the opposition were slim and that he will enter [a Likud coalition] anyway for the prestigious Foreign Affairs Portfolio,” the Likud official said. Likud’s Knesset speaker, Yuli Edelstein, conceded that a 61-strong coalition would present “a string of problems,” but acknowledged there may be no choice, and said Netanyahu could make “every effort” later on to sign on more partners. As a result, Netanyahu plans to pursue negotiations with Zionist Union leader, Isaac Herzog, in the coming weeks to join his government.

Another Likud official confirmed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding the Foreign Ministry portfolio for himself in the hope of later handing the top government position to Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog should he manage to convince the party to join Netanyahu’s government. “I understand that [keeping the Foreign Ministry] is [the prime minister’s] inclination, because he really wants to leave room for the government to expand in the future,” the official said. When asked whether Netanyahu was holding the government portfolio in hopes of wooing Herzog, he responded “yes.”

Netanyahu’s concern in that in the coming months, Israel will face enormous political pressures from both the European Union and the Obama administration. Once Obama is no longer directing all his efforts towards consummating an agreement with Iran by the June 30 deadline, effectively transforming it into a threshold nuclear power, he is likely to focus his efforts more strongly on the Israeli / Palestinian peace process. All indicators suggest that he intends to implement his threat that if Israel fails to toe his line, the US would no longer employ its veto at the United Nations.

His clearly stated policy is that Israel’s borders should be based on the (indefensible) 1949 armistice lines with mutual swaps (which could never be achieved with the intransigent Palestinians), division of Jerusalem, and an indefinite freeze of all settlement construction which, in this context, includes settlement blocs and Jewish east Jerusalem.

However, opposition and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog reacted to the news of Netanyahu’s new government coalition by insisting that will not be joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition saying, “I am not joining this government. It is bad and dangerous for Israel,” Herzog said, “I suggest that Netanyahu and his partners fill all the ministerial portfolios that, according to rumors, are waiting for me. We don’t have to say it every minute on every street corner. I don’t have an intention nor did I have to be a fifth wheel of Netanyahu. I intend to replace Netanyahu,” he said. Herzog added that Netanyahu’s 61-seat government coalition “lacks responsibility, stability and governance.” He also called it a “national disaster of a government. A weak and narrow government, susceptible to blackmail, that will advance nothing and will quickly be replaced by a responsible and hopeful alternative. I think that the best thing Netanyahu can do after he held a clearance sale to assemble his national government of failure is to return the mandate to the president so that he can task someone else with the formation of a government,” he said.

According to Herzog, the new government’s agenda will result in damage to quality of life and the fabric of Israeli society; damage to woman’s rights, gay rights, workers’ rights and the media; incessant threats to the courts and rule of law; continuation of the political deadlock; and further transfer of billions to settlements.

“A government has been formed that has no responsibility, no stability, and no chance whatsoever to govern,” said Herzog. “If this is how he handles negotiations with his natural partners, how will he negotiate with the Palestinians? With world powers? Finally, Herzog said “the countdown to form a government ended. Now, the countdown to its replacement begins.”

Co-leader of the Zionist Union party with Herzog, former chief negotiator in the peace proces, Tzipi Livni also had harsh words for the new government. “I disagree with the worldview, the path, and the objectives [of the new government], so I cannot wish it luck on the issues where there is such a disagreement, but in general, I hope for the best for the nation of Israel,” she said. Livni insists that her party would sit in the opposition “and that’s a commitment. Netanyahu just recently managed to form a new government of 61 MKs and this morning his advisors began to publicly court the Zionist Union,” she said. Livni stressed that she and Herzog have clear agreements and that decisions will be made in tandem. “Herzog agrees with me. This fight must take place in the opposition. I am not in politics for portfolios and honorary roles. I am here to continue our path and fight for it,” she said.

Based upon their comments, it would seem logical to conclude that the only way that Zionist Union would consider joining Netanyahu’s government is if Netanyahu would be willing to agree to Obama’s parameters for the peace process to establish a Palestinian state based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as it capital.

Finally, Senior Palestinian Authority official Saeb Erekat said that the new Israeli government “will be one of war which will be against peace and stability in our region. This government will set its sights on killing and reinforcing settlement activities in the West Bank,” he said.

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

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Netanyahu signs coalition deals with Kulanu, UTJ; Kahlon promises reforms
2) Contents of coalition agreements with UTJ, Kulanu revealed
3) Shas signs coalition deal with Likud, urges Herzog to join unity government
4) What Does Shas’ Coalition Agreement Include?
5) Jewish Home makes it official with Likud deal
6) Lieberman: Yisrael Beytenu won’t join new Netanyahu government
7) Coalition deal signed, swearing in expected Wednesday
8) ‘A 61-MK coalition is impossible,’ says Likud official
9) Likud Official: Bennett Will Pay for His Extortion
10) New Government to Legalize Jewish Buildings in Judea-Samaria
11) Shaky Israel coalition spells trouble for Netanyahu and peace process
12) Report: Netanyahu Plans to Expand Government After Formed
13) Candidly Speaking: To survive, Netanyahu must broaden his new government
14) Hoping to woo Herzog, Netanyahu to keep Foreign Ministry in back pocket
15) Herzog: New Netanyahu coalition is prone to extortion, bound to fail
16) Herzog: Bibi Should Give the Mandate Back to the President
17) Herzog: We won’t save Netanyahu from himself
18) PA Upset over Shape of New Israeli Government

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

May 5, 2015: Weekly 5 minute update

Tuesday, May 5th, 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) Israel’s response to the Palestinians joining the International Criminal Court and a call by EU Foreign Ministers to label Israel products made in the West Bank

On April 1, the Palestinians officially joined the International Criminal Court. Judge Kuniko Ozaki, acting president of the court, said: “It is a pleasure for me to address this gathering at which we formally welcome the State of Palestine as the 123rd state party to the Rome Statute. By acceding to the Rome Statute, the State of Palestine has entered the growing majority of the world’s nations that have combined their efforts for the purpose of ending impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to humanity.”

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki, who represented the Palestinians at the ceremony, said that “in the face of [the] great injustice our people are enduring and the repeated crimes committed against [them], Palestine has decided to seek justice, not vengeance.” The Palestinians’ decision to join the court “should be viewed in this light,” Malki said. “Our policy reflects a commitment to international law and universal values.” He added: “We now have a weapon which we can use against any Israeli political and military official. This weapon will serve as a deterrent for Israeli officials and prevent them from perpetrating crimes against the Palestinian people in the future.”

Malki reiterated the Palestinians’ pledge to cooperate with ICC prosecutors and judges to promote the principles and objectives of the court and the Rome Statute. “Palestine remains one of the most important tests of the will and ability of the international community,” he said. “It is a test that the world cannot afford to fail.”

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat hailed the accession to the court as a “national and historic day” for the Palestinians. The decision to join, he added, marked a “qualitative transformation in the strategy of the Palestinian struggle.” Erekat stressed that the PA leadership would not backtrack on its decision to join the court. “Those who are afraid of facing justice should stop committing crimes,” he said.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said that the ICC had already begun a preliminary examination of alleged Israeli crimes from the Gaza war last summer. Earlier this year, the Palestinians accepted the court’s jurisdiction dating back to June 2014, to ensure that last summer’s Gaza war between Israel and Hamas will be included in any review. “The legal and technical committees have been extensively working on finalizing the two files,” Erekat said. “We will conduct all practical moves directly after Palestine is officially declared an ICC member.”

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has already launched a preliminary review to determine if there are grounds for an investigation of possible war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Prosecution spokeswoman Florence Olara said there are “no timelines” for how long a preliminary examination can take. Some have taken months, others are continuing after years. Two senior Palestinian officials said the Palestinians will wait for the outcome of that review – which can take months or years – before considering further action. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said: “I don’t want to disappoint our people but the ICC procedures are slow and long and might face lots of obstacles and challenges and might take years to complete.”

In response, Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said “Palestine” had no right to join the International Criminal Court because there was no Palestinian state under international law. This meant , he said, that the ICC’s chief prosecutor had erred earlier this year in accepting the Palestinian request for a preliminary examination into alleged war crimes stemming from last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. “The Palestinian Authority government, which has established a partnership with the murderous Hamas terrorist organization that carries out war crimes like those carried out by Islamic State, is the last one that can threaten to file claims in the international court in The Hague,” Nachshon stated.

Israel said that the Palestinian decision to join the International Criminal Court is “hypocritical.” saying that Palestinian intentions at the ICC contradicted the goals of the court and would lead to a “destructive politicization” that harms the body’s stature. He added that there was no room for the court, which was established to bring to justice people responsible for the worst crimes and atrocities in the world, to cooperate with those who merely sought to abuse its limited resources. Unilateral Palestinian steps – first and foremost, joining the ICC – blatantly violated the basic principles agreed upon between the sides to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through negotiations, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said. These steps, he continued, highlighted the Palestinian refusal to conduct peace negotiations with Israel.

When the Palestinians decided to apply for membership in the ICC at the end of December, Israel decided that it would withhold the monthly transfer of taxes that Israel collects for the Palestinians. Under existing agreements, Israel collects taxes and customs on behalf of the Palestinians and then transfers the sums. That revenue accounts for about 70 percent of the Palestinians’ budget. Israel withheld these funds from December through March.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to renew the transfer of the tax revenues on the advice of defense establishment officials who warned of the possible collapse of the PA. Behind the scenes, however, according to sources in Israel, the transfer of the funds was conditioned on the Palestinians maintaining their security coordination with Israel and refraining from filing claims against Israel at the international criminal court. Therefore, Israel released to the PA over NIS 1.37 million in tax revenues. In doing so, withheld NIS 160,000 of the tax revenues to pay for outstanding debts, particularly to the Israel Electric Company to which the PA owes NIS 2 billion.

Initially, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the funds to be returned because money had been deducted to cover debts to Israeli utility companies. Abbas said: “We are returning the money. Either they give it to us in full or we go to arbitration or to the court (ICC). We will not accept anything else.” However, in a compromise agreement, Israel agreed to release the money to the Palestinians in exchange for a partial reduction of the Palestinian $ 500 million debt for electricity and other services.

The United States has been pressuring Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to change his position that the funds would be released after Israel deducts the huge amount of money the Palestinian Authority owes the country. Israel reportedly agreed to the compromise for “humanitarian” reasons and with an eye to ensuring regional stability. It was one of a number of humanitarian steps Israel had taken including authorizing the water hook-up for the new Palestinian city of Rawabi and increasing the volume of water it provided to Gaza, officials said

In other news, 16 out of 28 EU foreign ministers wrote a letter calling on the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, to advance a proposal to mark products made in West Bank settlements and assure “correct and coherent implementation of EU labeling legislation.” After praising Mogherini for renewing the EU’s commitment to the Middle East peace process, the letter draws the foreign policy chief’s attention to a similar letter in 2013 to her predecessor, insisting the implementation of the union’s legislation was an important component of the Mideast policy.

The letter said: “Following the public commitment made by the Council in May and December 2012 and more recently in November 2014, we remain of the view that this is an important step in the full implementation of EU longstanding policy, in relation to the preservation of the two-state solution.” The foreign ministers emphasized that “European consumers must indeed have confidence in knowing the origin of goods they are purchasing. Green Line Israel and Palestinian producers will benefit from this.”

Currently, only a handful of European Union nations have ordered their supermarkets to mark products made in Israeli settlements. As mentioned in the letter, the demand for a unified European policy on the labeling of West Bank goods had been raised several times in recent years.

Israeli officials fired back at the call by 16 European foreign minister to mark products made in the West Bank’s settlements, evoking a Holocaust-era comparisons and claiming the EU was blaming Israel for the stalemate in peace talks. Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called the plan “hypocritical, sanctimonious and cynical,” noting that the murder and expulsion of Palestinians by Islamic State in Syria was “going by quietly” in Europe. He said: “No European foreign minister has demanded an emergency meeting of EU diplomats, of the EU, of the UN Security Council. Other than a few public statements nothing is being done. I have a suggestion for them on how to label (the products),” he said. “They can…label all products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights with a yellow star. I think that is extremely fitting to the cynical and hypocritical position expressed in this letter. We know that what begins as marking Israeli products, quickly deteriorates into an overall boycott of Israeli goods.”

Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid said:  “This is a de-facto call to boycott Israel,” he said. “According to these guidelines, there is no difference between products which are produced over the 1967 borders and those that are produced within the 1967 borders. This is an irresponsible call that could create havoc on the Israeli economy. This kind of call is a stain on the EU, and the state of Israel has to fight to prevent this kind of initiative,” he said.

Israel’s Energy Minister Silvan Shalom slammed the move as counter-productive, saying they do little to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. According to him, “such moves began a decade ago and have achieved little.” Shalom said that the move placed on the onus of the stalemate in peace talks on Israel and not the Palestinians.

Israel Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said that “European Union foreign ministers decided to boycott Israeli produce whose ‘source is in the settlements’! Not Syrian produce of (Bashar al-)Assad, not Gaza (produce) of the Hamas murderers, or of any other murderous terror regime in the world. Only Israeli produce.” Katz condemned “European hypocrisy, nourished by a combination of ancient anti-Semitism and new Islamic influence.

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

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Palestinians officially become signatories to International Criminal Court
2) ICC ‘welcomes State of Palestine’ as 123rd member at ceremony
3) Israel blasts Palestinian ICC membership as ‘hypocritical’
4) Palestinians attempting to fast track war crimes suits against Israel at ICC
5) Exclusive: In exchange for freed tax funds, PA won’t pursue Israel over settlements at ICC
6) Abbas rejects Israel’s partial transfer of Palestinian tax revenues
7) Israel Caves in to US and Frees Tax Money for PA without Erasing Debt
8) Israeli officials slam EU bid to mark settlement products
9) Lapid to Mogherini: EU foreign ministers are calling for a de-facto boycott of Israel
10) ‘EU Boycotts Israel, Not Murderers in Syria or Gaza’
11) FM compares labels on settler products to Nazi yellow star

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