Archive for August, 2016

August 10, 2016: Weekly 5 minute update

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

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 condemnation by the US and the international community of Israel for building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and whether there is a possibility that the US will support a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital at the UN Security Council later this year

In the last week of July, Israel announced plans to build 770 Jewish homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo. They are part of a larger plan for around 1,200 units approved about three years ago. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat said: “The plans in question are not new construction and were approved three years ago.” In addition, Israel announced plans to build 323 Jewish homes in four Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians and many in the international community view the new housing that Israel builds in East Jerusalem as illegal settlements. Most Israelis see the area, where about 200,000 Jews now live, as regular suburbs of a united Jerusalem.

The announcement drew strong condemnation from the Palestinians, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States. Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator in the peace process said that the decision “further reflects the failure of the international community to stop Israel’s settlement expansion.” The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said that he was “increasingly concerned by the near-daily advancement of the illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said: “The [Gilo] decision raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions. The new housing units contribute to “the establishment of a ring of Israeli settlements around the city, thus further cutting East Jerusalem off from the southern West Bank,” the statement said. “The EU calls on Israel to reverse this decision and to cease its settlement activity,” it added.

Furthermore, the United States strongly rebuked Israel for its announcement to build more Jewish homes in East Jerusalem. In a press release, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said: “We are deeply concerned by reports today that the Government of Israel has published tenders for 323 units in East Jerusalem settlements. This follows the recent announcement of plans for 770 units in the settlement of Gilo. We strongly oppose settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace. These  steps by Israeli authorities are the latest examples of what appears to be a steady acceleration of settlement activity that is systematically undermining the prospects for a two- state solution … As the recent Quartet Report highlighted, this is part of an ongoing process of land seizures, settlement expansion, legalizations of outposts, and denial of Palestinian development that risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict,” Mr. Kirby said in the statement. “We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”

The Quartet refers to the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. They are regarded as mediators in the peace process. The quartet issued a report on July 1 calling on Israel to halt settlement construction and expansion and to stop designating land for exclusive Israeli use.

Jamal Dajani, director of communications for Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. said: “We support the State Department’s statement. It is about time we hear this from the U.S. The whole international community is condemning these Israeli actions. They are a violation of the Geneva convention, which specifically prohibits the occupying power from transferring people in the areas it is occupying.”

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Emanuel Nachshon said that the building in Gilo “was done with the full knowledge that the neighborhood of Gilo in Jerusalem will be part of Israel in any conceivable agreement reached through negotiations. The argument that building in Gilo undermines the two-state solution is factually baseless and distracts from the real obstacle to peace — the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, under any borders.” Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and a member of the current Israeli government said: “By [the United States] condemning building in Gilo, the administration repeats its initial mistake in the peace process. It is creating a demand that no Israeli government can meet and no Palestinian leader can ignore. Nobody in Israel views Gilo as a settlement, but once the US administration demands a freeze in Gilo then no Palestinian leader can demand anything less,” he said. “Gilo is a dealbreaker.”

In the first part of August, Israel demolished five Palestinian buildings in the West Bank constructed without permits  including three paid for by the European Union. These buildings were located in Area C in the West Bank which is under full Israel control. This area in the West Bank was established in the 1993 Oslo Accords. The European Union tries to supply money to build Palestinian structures in Area C without building permits from Israel. The European Union wants to build Palestinians structures in Area C to help create “facts on the ground” prior to a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians as outlined in the 1993 Oslo Accords.

EU ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen said that around 70 percent of Area C has been taken exclusively for Israeli use and that the remaining land is effectively off limits for Palestinian development. Faaborg-Andersen pointed out that between 2009 and 2013 Israel had provided only 44 building permits to Palestinians in response to about 2,000 requests. “EU assistance is provided in situations where Israel is not fulfilling its duty as the occupying power,” he said. “That is according to the international law, universal norms and the Oslo accords.” The envoy added that “in the first 6 months of 2016 alone, 91 EU-sponsored structures in Area C have been demolished. This is more than all of 2015. Since 2009, approximately 170 EU-backed structures have been demolished.”

In response, US State Department spokeswoman, Elizabeth Trudeau, said that the United States is aware that the government of Israel has demolished several EU-funded Palestinian homes in the West Bank. More than 650 Palestinian structures have been demolished this year, with more Palestinian structures demolished in the West Bank and East Jerusalem thus far than in all of 2015. As a result, the United States remains concerned about the increased demolition of Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The United States believes that this is part of an ongoing process of land seizures, settlement expansions, legalization of outpost, denial of Palestinian development. We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

In addition, the United States has warned it will respond harshly if Israel demolishes the Palestinian village of Sussia in the southern Hebron Hills of the West Bank. Israeli and American officials said that recently U.S. administration officials has informed Israel that a severe American reaction would result if Israel destroys the houses in the village. Israeli officials said similar messages were conveyed by the European Union, the British government and other international bodies. For example, the British government said that it would find it difficult to continue assisting Israel in international forums in the event the Arab village of Sussia were demolished.

The Israeli officials said international pressure over the matter came after the Palestinian Authority turned to the United States and a number of other Western countries, claiming that Israel intends to destroy the village in a few weeks. According to the Israeli officials, the Prime Minister’s office told the Americans and Europeans that at this stage there is no plan to destroy Sussia, and that the Israeli government would act in accordance with rulings by the High Court of Justice which is now hearing a petition on the matter. The petition was submitted by a right-wing Regavim association which claims the village was built illegally and thus should be demolished by the Israel Civil Administration.

The villagers of Sussia, which is in Area C, under full Israeli military and civilian control, are among the poorest people in the West Bank. Over the past 30 years, they have been moved out of their houses a few times. In 1986, Sussia was declared a national park and its residents removed to their adjacent farmland. In 2001, they were once again removed by the army, and the caves and tin shacks they lived in were demolished.

The High Court at one point ordered the cessation of the demolitions and allowed the residents to remain on the site. However, the court did not instruct the Civil Administration to issue construction permits. As a result, all of the houses in the village have been built without permits. In recent years the Civil Administration has proposed to the residents of Sussia that they move to an area bordering on Area A – formally under full Palestinian control – closer to the village of Yatta. However, they declined.

Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the nearby Jewish settlement of Susya and the Regavim association have been pressuring the Civil Administration to carry out the demolition orders. Negotiations between the villagers and the Civil Administration began again early this year to try to regulate the village and issue construction permits for the houses. The parties held three rounds of talks and progress was made. However, they suddenly stopped in June without explanation. According to people involved in the negotiations, the round of talks that had been set for last month was canceled. These developments have led the Palestinian residents to fear that Israel has decided to demolish the village.

The High Court held another hearing on August 1 on the petition to implement the demolition order, with court President Miriam Naor leading the bench. At the end of the hearing, the court ordered Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to submit his position on the evacuation of Sussia by August 15. Naor also ordered that the 30 houses in immediate danger of demolition were not to be destroyed before that time. The defense minister’s office responded that no directive had been issued by Lieberman regarding Sussia, and that he was still studying the matter.

Regarding the peace process, US Secretary of State, John Kerry met recently with Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas in France. US State Department spokesman, John Kirby said: Kerry spoke with “Abbas about prospects for a two-state solution, and trying to make meaningful progress to create the conditions…where that solution can be more successfully pursued,” Kirby explained. “You’ve seen the travel that he has made to the region. This remains an area of prime focus for him.”

Regarding the talks, Abbas said that any reboot of peace talks with Israel should happen within a clear time frame and under international supervision. Abbas made his comments after meeting with John Kerry. Abbas also held talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on the prospects of achieving a two-state solution. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat described the talks with the US and France as “very constructive.” At the meetings, Erekat said that Abbas “reiterated our full support to the French initiative that aims to convene an international conference before the end of the year.” Erekat added that there was “no contradiction” between the French, U.S. and more recently Egyptian efforts to break the deadlock and move the peace talks forward. “All these efforts aim to revive the peace process, to achieve the two-state solution (based) on the 1967 lines. They are complementary,” he said. “We need a timeline for the negotiations, we need a timeline for the implementation, and we need an international framework that will ensure the implementation of any agreement reached.”

Is the harsh language that the US is now using toward the building of Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as removing illegal Palestinians structures in Area C of the West Bank an indication that the Obama administration is so angry at Israel that it is willing to support parameters for a PLO state with East Jerusalem as its capital at the UN Security Council by the end of 2016 based upon the recommendations made by those attending an international peace conference sponsored by France anticipated at the end of the year?

The US State Department’s position regarding Israeli settlements has evolved over the years. While previous administrations described them as an “obstacle to peace,” the Obama administration have degraded them to being “illegitimate.” However, to describe the building of Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “corrosive to the cause of peace,” as “systematically undermining the prospects for a two-state solution,” as “entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict” and as “provocative and counterproductive” – is very harsh language and does it suggest a change in US policy toward Israel?

In a recent Newsweek article, it was stated: “The French government is driving an initiative to convene an international conference in 2016—a tent for organizing consensus toward a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to revive peace talks. If the conference can achieve the support of nine out of 15 Security Council members for its suggested draft-resolution, with the U.S. agreeing not to exercise its veto, [the parameters for a] two state solution will be outlined.” Given the strong language used by the US State Department condemning Israel for building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the US “can now leverage the impact of its declaration by joining with Europe and other forces around the globe, including some moderate Arab states, to outline the parameters for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” as a UN Security Council Resolution.

In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Obama administration “is working on plans for reviving long-stalled Middle East negotiations before President Barack Obama leaves office, including a possible United Nations Security Council resolution that would outline steps toward a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, according to senior U.S. officials. The internal discussions are aimed at offering a blueprint for future Israeli-Palestinian talks in a bid to advance a critical foreign-policy initiative that has made little progress during Mr. Obama’s two terms in the White House, the officials said. The strongest element on the list of options under consideration would be U.S. support for a Security Council resolution calling on both sides to compromise on key issues. The timing of any new move by Obama officials said it would be later in 2016.”

“U.S. officials said the president wants to put the issue on a more promising trajectory before his successor takes office in January, 2017. In one scenario, [the official said that] the U.S. would push Israel to halt construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories and recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians would in turn be asked to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and end claims on a right of return for Palestinian refugees. Under that scenario, the administration also would recommend the establishment of two states based on the 1949 armistice line between the armies of Israel and its Arab neighbors. Like proposals in previous rounds of negotiations, the approach would recommend land swaps to account for Israeli settlements built since 1967.”

At the beginning of this year, France has said that if it’s intended efforts this year to outline the parameters of a two-state solution fails that it will unilaterally recognize a PLO state. Therefore, we know that France is in favor of a UN Security Council Resolution that calls for a PLO state with East Jerusalem as its capital. In fact, in December 2014, France supported a UN security council resolution creating a framework for a final resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Those efforts failed due to opposition from Israel and the US on one hand, and an unwillingness by the Palestinians on the other to compromise on the wording of the decision.

Has the US changed its position from December, 2014? Will Obama now be willing to support a UN Security Council Resolution outlining the parameters of a PLO state with East Jerusalem as its capital by the end of 2016? Does the latest harsh language by the Obama administration against building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem an indication that Obama is so angry at Israel that he is willing to change his policy before he leaves office in January, 2017? What will Obama do regarding the peace process? Only time will tell.

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

The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Israel advances plans for 770 settlement homes
2) Israel advances construction for 323 settlement homes in Jerusalem
3) U.S. Rebukes Israel Over New Settlement Activity in East Jerusalem
4) US State Department Press Release: Recent Israeli Settlement Announcements
5) State Dept. criticizes Israeli settlement expansion, demolitions
6) Israel fires back at US over criticism of settlement building
7) EU criticizes Israel for destroying Palestinian homes in West Bank
8) EU questions Israel’s “long-term intentions” as settlement progresses
9) EU Slams Demolition of Palestinian Homes in West Bank’s “Area C”
10) U.S. Warns It Will Respond Harshly If Israel Demolishes Palestinian Village of Sussia
11) Kerry and Abbas to discuss ‘two-state solution’
12) PA insists on timeframe for any peace talks with Israel
13) The curious State Department announcement on Israeli settlements
14) Why New Israeli Settlements Set Back the Day of Peace
15) White House Working on Renewed Mideast Peace Push
16) U.S. Anger at Israel Could Result in a UN Security Council Resolution Establishing a Palestinian State
17) France says it will recognise Palestinian state if new peace effort fails

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