You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The current status of the 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,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l