November 20, 2016: Weekly 5 minute update

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 Israeli / Palestinian peace process and the prospects that US President Barack Obama will support  a UN Security Council Resolution outlining the parameters of a Palestinian state between November and January

In early November, Pierre Vimont, the French government’s special envoy to the Middle East peace process, visited Israel and spoke with representatives from the Palestinian Authority regarding a French plan to host an international peace conference by the end of December. In doing so, Israel informed France that it will not participate in such a conference. Israeli officials told France, in “a unambiguous and unequivocal fashion” that real progress and a lasting peace agreement could only emerge through direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and the PA, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “Any other initiatives only distance the region from such a process,” the statement continued. “It was explained to the French envoy that Israel will not participate in any international conference convened in opposition to its position.” The French initiative “greatly harms the possibilities for advancing the peace process,” the statement said, arguing that it would allow PA President Mahmoud Abbas to avoid returning to direct bilateral negotiations without preconditions.

Vimont said that while he understands that Israel is opposed to the French initiative, it would send a positive signal if Netanyahu were to attend nonetheless. He said: “If at the end of the day, the Israeli government would decide to participate in the Paris conference, it will show genuine, sincere commitment to the two-state solution. The time is not right for direct talks. In the interim, he said, work can be done to ensure that such talks are fruitful when they do occur. As a first step, he said, “it is important for all those ready to endorse the two state solution, to say so publicly.”

The goal of a conference would be to push the peace process forward. Should it be approved, the conference’s conclusion could be put forward in the form of a UN Security Council resolution. The conference and the conclusions it would reach would operate in conjunction with other initiatives that are on the table and could even fold them into its large umbrella of options, he said. This includes efforts by Russia, which has called for a meeting between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Vimont, said that past proposals such as the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative could also be part of the French initiative and would most certainly compliment it. The process is open to all the interested parties, he said. “We are working with the European Union, the Quartet, the Arab League and whomever wants to be involved,” said Vimont.

This also includes, the United States, said Vimont adding that his initiative could have inspired renewed American involvement. US Secretary of State John Kerry “is back on track with some of his ideas for regional initiatives,” Vimont said. He also did not rule out the possibility that other parties could work on a UN resolution separate from the peace conference. “We have no problem if anyone comes forward with a draft resolution, be it on parameters and settlements,” Vimont said. “We [would] look at the value of the draft itself. The idea has never been ‘well, the French initiative is going on, everyone should shut up and stay put and wait to see what happens. This is why, precisely as I speak, we are in very close contact with our colleagues in the outgoing Obama Administration to assure them that if ever they decide, after the 8th of November, to go forward with some initiative, it is working with good coordination with what we are trying to do,” he said. For this reason, Vimont added that he plans to go to the U.S. immediately after the US Presidential elections to coordinate possible steps over the next two months with the outgoing Obama administration. The Israeli government has been nervous about what actions Obama might take regarding the two-state solution prior to his departure from office. Among the possible steps would be US support for a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlement activity or even one that dictates the terms of a peace deal.

After meeting with Vimont, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinians were asking France to push ahead with the plan.“We have encouraged France to go ahead with its initiative and supported its efforts to have a conference before the end of the year,” he said in a statement. “Israel should not be given the chance to sabotage such an international initiative.” Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, told a Palestinian newspaper that French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault would soon travel to the region in preparation for the summit, as part of France’s peace initiative. The conference, he added, will take place “whether the Israeli government consents or not.”

Furthermore, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas affirmed his commitment to a French-led international peace conference saying that he plans on sending a delegation to proposed peace talks set to be hosted in France in December.

Regarding the US election results, PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said: “We will work with any president the American people elect to achieve peace in the Middle East on the basis of the two-state solution along 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine.”

Jason Greenblatt, a close legal advisor to President-elect Donald Trump, described a US Trump policy with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is 180 degrees different from that of past administrations, either Democrat or Republican. Greenblatt said: “Mr. Trump does not view the settlements as being an obstacle for peace.” He added that Trump does not condemn Jewish building over the pre-1967 lines, nor does he believe in dictating the terms of any peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinian.  Trump’s views, he said, come from the past example of the 2005 Israeli demolition of 21 settlements in Gaza and four in northern Samaria. That withdrawal did not bring peace but rather was a precursor to a Hamas takeover of Gaza and three wars with Israel. Greenbatt said: “Trump is not going to impose any solution on Israel. He thinks that the peace has to come from the parties themselves. Any meaningful contribution he can offer up, he is there to do,  it is not his goal, nor should it be anyone else’s goal, to impose peace on the parties.” With regard to Israel’s larger security issues, Greenblatt said that the newly elected president “thinks that Israel is in a very tough situation and needs to defend itself as it needs to defend itself.” Trump won’t be like his predecessors, Greenblatt said. “He is different for Israel than any recent president has been.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli State Attorney’s Office made a request in the beginning of November to postpone the December 25th evacuation of the court ordered outpost settlement of Amona to allow time to examine alternative solutions for its residents. Two years ago, the High Court of Justice (HCJ) ruled that the outpost must be evacuated and demolished after determining it was built on privately-owned Palestinian lands. In its petition, the state claims it is seeking to carry out the evacuation peacefully and without incident but that it is unable to provide alternative living solutions for residents within the next two months. The state emphasized that if the court rejects the request, it will be prepared to carry out the evacuation by the date set in its ruling—December 25.

The High Court of Justice rejected the request submitted by the Israeli government to extend the December 25th deadline for the evacuation of the Amona outpost. “In this case, as in other cases in the past, we were asked to extend the deadline set in the ruling for the evacuation at the last minute. We can see that any time frame given, as long as it may be, would not be enough,” Supreme Court judge Miriam Naor wrote in the court’s ruling. “We must be careful; otherwise deadlines set by the court will become a recommendation. The state’s request, which is based mostly on considerations that have already been ‘taken into consideration’ in the original ruling, constitutes in effect an attempt to change the decision made. This we cannot accept,” Naor added. Naor noted that she remains unconvinced that “extending the deadline will bring to an agreed resolution of the matter. It appears an approval of the request will only be used as an opening to submit additional extension requests, with the claim ‘we didn’t have enough time.’ Such a result will render the ruling worthless and cannot be accepted. Even though we do not dismiss the consideration of a peaceful resolution, this consideration is not the most important thing.”

In September, 25 of the 30 Knesset members of Netanyahu’s Likud political party, signed a petition against the Amona evacuation calling for the passing of a bill that would give the outpost of Amona legal standing. Such a move would allow the residents of Amona to keep their homes. At the time, the petition was not supported by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The petition reads: “The bill is meant to regulate the homes of residents in a legal manner and prevent a moral, humane, and social distortion that would be created by the evacuation of hundreds and thousands of families who have built their homes with the support and assistance of various Israeli governments. The petition’s signatories have committed to act in pushing this important and moral legislation.” The Knesset “regulation bill” has relevance beyond Amona. It seeks to retroactively legalize any Jewish structures built on privately-owned Palestinian lands—as long as they were built with no intention of breaking the law—while offering generous compensation to those who prove they are the lands’ owners.

In an effort to prevent the evacuation of their outpost, the residents of Amona sent a letter of protest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to legalize their homes. “Amona has become a symbol of the settlement enterprise. Then again, we have nothing to lose,” they wrote. “Any alternative that is not Amona is out of the question. We won’t be bought with futile promises, budgets or other inducements.” The settlers noted that they intend to mount a “public popular struggle, respectable and difficult, that would unite all of our supporters, both within the outpost and without. This will be the fight of our lives for our home.”

After the ruling by the High Court of Justice, Amona residents called an emergency gathering during which they appealed directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the courts rejection of a request submitted by the government to extend the December 25th deadline for the evacuation of the outpost. “We, residents of Amona turn directly and personally to you prime minister. The lives of the residents of Amona, 42 families, (including) young children are in your hands. The hand which will evacuate Amona on the first night of Hanukkah is yours,” said Avichai Boaron, who is heading the struggle against the evacuation, in reference to the date in December on which the evacuation is set to commence.

Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Amona residents and protesters must avoid confrontation with Israeli soldiers when the court-ordered evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Amona takes place. In response, Amona residents said that they would build a tent city housing “thousands” of people to fight the court-ordered evacuation.

The request for eviction postponement by the government comes after a flurry of activity surrounding Amona in recent weeks that was punctuated by a meeting between Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Prime Minister Netanyahu and officials from the modern Orthodox party, Jewish Home. Legislators on the right-wing are pushing a so-called “regulations bill” that would legalize Amona and other disputed outposts in the West Bank.

On November 16, the Israeli Parliament gave preliminary approval to the “regulation bill” which would legalize Jewish outpost settlements. To become law, the proposal must pass three more votes in parliament. The so-called Regulation Bill designed to legalize outposts in the West Bank was recently approved in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation following heated discussions between the ministers present. The bill was brought to a vote mainly by the efforts of the Jewish Home political party leader, Naftali Bennett.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) called Jewish settlers living in disputed outposts in the West Bank “a virus that drags Israel to approve laws (that legalize) theft.” Prime Minister Netanyahu took to social media to express his outrage at Herzog’s comments. “I can’t believe Herzog used the term ‘virus’ in relation to settlers. They are our own flesh and blood, they serve in the IDF, and they contribute to the country. Buji, apologize immediately,” Netanyahu wrote, using Herzog’s nickname. Herzog responded to Netanyahu with his own post on social media, using the prime minister’s nickname: “No, Bibi, this time it won’t work. The ‘regulation bill’ is the virus. A virus that is dangerous to the Israeli democracy and justice system. The settlers are my brothers. My own flesh and blood. And I’ll take care of them more than you lie to them.”

Israel Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit opposes the proposed “regulation bill” saying it is unconstitutional. However, Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from the Jewish Home political party determined that “the attorney general has no power of veto over laws,” asserting that only the public’s elected representatives should make decisions on legislation. The justice minister contended that the attorney general’s role “is to be an advisor, not a decision-maker” like the prime minister, the government and the members of Knesset. “We at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation will make the decision in a professional manner.” Shaked explained that “when it comes to legislation, there is no such thing as veto power, because the Knesset is the authority that should make the decision.”

In response to the initial approval of the “regulation bill”, the US State Department said that it was “deeply concerned” by the possibility of Israeli legislation to legalize outposts in the West Bank. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters that the US was “deeply concerned about the advancement of legislation that would allow for the legalization of illegal Israeli outposts located on private Palestinian land.

“If this law were enacted it would pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank,” Trudeau said. “This would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that is inconsistent with prior Israeli legal opinion and also break longstanding Israeli policy of not building on private Palestinian land. This legislation would be a dramatic advancement of the settlement enterprise, which is already gravely endangering the prospects for a two-state solution,” she added.

With regard to Trump’s pre-election promise that he would relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Greenblatt said he expected that the pledge would be fulfilled. “I think he said it, he is going to do it. He is a man who keeps his word.” President-elect Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, a convert to Judaism told a Florida synagogue that her dad would “100 percent” move the US embassy to Jerusalem if he is elected president. Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism in 2010 and is married to a Jewish man, called her father, an “unbelievable champion” for the State of Israel and for the Jewish people. “You won’t be dissapointed,”  she told the audience. Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the move of the embassy to Jerusalem but allowed the president a waiver. Each president since then has routinely exercised the waiver citing the national security interests of the United States.

In response, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said that the Palestinian Arabs will “make life miserable” for the United States at the United Nations, if US President-elect, Donald Trump, moves the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said: “If people attack us by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which is a violation of Security Council resolutions, it is a violation of resolution 181 of the UN general assembly that was drafted by the U.S. … it means they are showing belligerency towards us … If they do that nobody should blame us for unleashing all of the weapons that we have in the UN to defend ourselves and we have a lot of weapons in the UN.”

Meanwhile, Russia called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue on the basis of a two-state solution, stressing its support for the Palestinian cause. Speaking during a visit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said: “This initiative is still on the table,” in reference to peace talks being held in Moscow without preconditions. “Russia has always clung to its consistent position which is that the solution of the Palestinian issue is a priority and a prerequisite for the settlement of a fair and inclusive Middle East based on the resolutions of the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations.” During their meeting, Abbas told Medvedev: “We welcomed the invitation of President Putin to hold a tripartite meeting in Moscow but the Israeli side requested a postponement.” Abbas added that they had also discussed the issue of holding peace talks, including one in Moscow and another to be held by year-end in France.

In other news, Walid Phares, a foreign policy advisor to Presidential-elect Donald Trump, said that Trump will work to pass legislation designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Phares said the legislation, which was already approved by the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was held up due to the Obama administration’s support of the group.

In November of 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced the bill, which identifies three Brotherhood entities in the U.S. including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Cruz said: “We have to stop pretending that the Brotherhood are not responsible for the terrorism they advocate and finance … We have to see it for what it is: a key international organization dedicated to waging violent jihad.”

The bill included is an unprecedented opportunity to educate members of Congress about the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in terrorism.  It reviews the Brotherhood’s terrorist history and how it is banned by the governments of Egypt, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Syria. Egypt released videos showing the Brotherhood’s involvement in terrorism and the Egyptian government’s website warns about the Brotherhood lobby in the United States. The bill also outlines how the Brotherhood is linked to CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT). The U.S. designated the Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing—Hamas— in 1997, a terrorist organization, but the Muslim Brotherhood as a whole is allowed to operate in the U.S.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told West Bank Amona settlers (whom the Israeli High Court of Justice decided need to relocate) that US President Barack Obama still constitutes “an existential danger’’ to the Israeli settlements. In speaking these words, Netanyahu was referring to a possible UN Security Council resolution declaring the settlements illegal and asking Israel to avoid all settlement expansion. Sometime between now and Jan. 20, the US administration might agree for such a proposal to be voted on.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu said he expects US President Barack Obama to continue America’s “longstanding policy” of promoting direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians – and not pursue parameters for Middle East peace through international bodies before he leaves office. He said: “I very much hope that President Obama will continue the policy that he enunciated,” Netanyahu said, referring to comments made by the outgoing president at the beginning of his first term. “The only way you get a workable and enduring peace is to have the parties agree to it. This is what has happened with our peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. We’ve had convulsions in the Middle East, and yet these peace treaties hold because they were directly agreed to by the parties,” he added. “The reason we’ll object to any such effort is because it will hard the Palestinian position, and because it will harden the Palestinian position, it will push peace back.”

A senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said on condition of anonymity that Israel fears that Obama will want to leave a practical legacy to his successor in the form of a Security Council resolution rejecting the settlements in the West Bank. He said, “Obama is obsessed by an objection to the settlements and by his criticism of Netanyahu.”

This view was confirmed by a senior US diplomat in Tel Aviv. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry consider the Israeli settlement policy the main reason for the failure of Kerry’s 2014-15 mission and the main obstacle to a two-state solution. Obama believes that if the Israeli settlement policies are allowed to continue undisturbed until the next administration has a Middle East team and clear Middle East policy in place, the situation on the ground could become irreversible in terms of denying a viable Palestinian state.

This is the reason White House spokesman Josh Earnest has used very strong language lately when criticizing the Netanyahu government on its settlement policy. On Oct. 6, Earnest accused the Israeli government of betraying the administration, saying, “We did receive public assurances from the Israeli government that contradict the announcement [of constructing 300 housing units on land that is] far closer to Jordan than it is to Israel.” Earnest warned that Israel’s decision to relocate — considered by settlers as a necessary compensation for dismantling Amona — jeopardizes the already distant prospect of Middle East peace as well as Israel’s own security.

On Oct. 21, the issue of a Security Council resolution in the months to come was raised at the European Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels. A senior official close to Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy said that the European Union is conveying to Kerry the importance and urgency of a concrete policy move against Israeli settlement expansion. Such a resolution would, according to the EU official, include strong wording on the settlements as an obstacle to a two-state solution (taken from the July 2016 Quartet report), as well as a demand that Israel stop all settlement expansion and a call to the parties to immediately renew negotiations on a two-state solution based on previous Security Council resolutions. France and Egypt would likely advance such a UN Security Council Resolution before the end of 2016. The Palestinian leadership is welcoming this possible development. A senior PLO official said that the Palestinian Authority is in close contact with the French and Egyptian foreign ministers on this issue.

An Obama administration official said that US President Barack Obama is considering a last minute move regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Several options suggested by his advisors at the National Security Council are being considered. One option would be giving the US’s support to a UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements or on the two-state solution. Alternatively, the outgoing president could settle for only a declarative act, like a speech presenting the main points of his administration’s stance on the conflict. A third option would be to do nothing.

According to the official, the Obama administration is concerned with the situation on the ground. “The two-state solution is dying, this trend is not good. There’s a de facto annexation. We, the Americans, can only rebuke the sides. We’ve searched in the dictionary for a thousand different ways to condemn the settlement construction, and it’s not helping. A condemnation has no bite, and the Israelis know this.” As a result, Obama is feeling the need to do something before he leaves office.

Recently, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, spoke at the annual Zionist Organization of America’s conference, warning foreign diplomats looking to force through one-sided resolutions at the United Nations between now and January 20th when Obama leaves office. He said: “Just recently,” said Danon, “senior diplomats from various countries told me that they plan on taking advantage of the transition period to advance a one-sided resolution against Israel. One thing is clear: Such a resolution will be dangerous for Israel. We will not be pressured to make concessions that will endanger our people.”

So, will Obama take advantage of the transition to the Trump Presidency that began after election day and ends on Jan. 20 to push through a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state? 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 won’t attend peace confab, officials inform France
2) Abbas ally: French peace summit will go forward, with or without Israel
3) France: Israel should show commitment to peace by attending December parley
4) Palestinian Authority: We’ll work with any US president to achieve peace
5) Trump advisor: ‘West Bank settlements are not an obstacle to peace’
6) Will Obama push for UN settlement-freeze resolution?
7) Russia calls for resumption of Israel-Palestine peace talks
8) PA: We’ll ‘make life miserable’ for Trump if he moves embassy
9) Trump to Designate Muslim Brotherhood as Terror Org
10) Netanyahu will work with Trump on ‘twin interests of peace and security’
11) Obama mulling support of UN resolution against Israeli settlements
12) State requests to postpone Amona evacuation for 7 months
13) Amona residents appeal directly to Netanyahu
14) 25 Likud MKs sign petition against Amona evacuation
15) Amona settlers urge Netanyahu: Pass bill to legalize our home
16) High Court rejects government’s request to postpone Amona evacuation
17) Justice Minister Shaked: AG has no veto power over laws
18) Regulation Bill approved in ministerial committee
19) Lieberman on Amona Evacuation: Settlers Must Avoid Confrontation With IDF Soldiers
20) US ‘deeply concerned’ by Israeli push to legalize outposts
21) Danon: No one will pressure us into making dangerous concessions

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

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