February 11, 2012: Weekly 5 minute update (Audio Only)

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 / PLO peace process
2) The prospects for war with Syria and Iran

Once again, Fatah headed by PLO President Mahmood Abbas and who rules in the West Bank and Hamas headed by  Khaled Mashaal who rules in the Gaza Strip have agreed to a reconciliation agreement to end their differences. The original agreement came in May, 2011. Abbas will serve as interim Prime Minister of a unity government until parliamentary elections can be held. No date has been set for these elections. Abbas and Mashaal also agreed to hold a meeting of the temporary leadership of various Palestinian groups in Cairo, Egypt later in February to review the steps taken by the two parties toward implementing the reconciliation agreement. Azzam Ahmed, a senior Fatah official, said the unity government would be announced following the Cairo meeting on February 18.

Because Hamas does not recognize Israel, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that if the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement gets implemented that it will end the peace process.  Netanyahu is asking the international community to pressure the PLO to not implement it.  Netanyahu says that Abbas must choose between a peace process with Israel and a government with Hamas.  In the past, the Quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia) have said that in any PLO unity government between Fatah and Hamas that Hamas would have to recognize three things: 1) Israel’s right to exist  2) Abandon terrorism  3) Accept previous Israel / PLO agreements. The United States has taken the position that the PLO Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement is an “internal” PLO matter and that they won’t oppose it.

Furthermore, the PLO have decided to end the Jordan low-level peace talks with Israel which were held in January because they say that Israel hasn’t agreed to stop building Jewish homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and haven’t agreed that a PLO state would be based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. The PLO view that this is an Israeli obligation as part of the Roadmap agreement negotiated between the US, Israel and the PLO in 2003. Israel sees these demands as preconditions and want to know if the PLO will agree to Israel security needs. Israel is willing to discuss both issues in direct negotiations.

At the urging of the Quartet, Israel agreed to offer the PLO an “incentive package” to continue the Jordan low-level peace talks. The proposal consisted of extending the PLO security forces’ authority over Area B of the West Bank and free 30 PLO prisoners being held in Israel. Area B, which comprises about 20% of the West Bank, is under Palestinian civil controls and shared Israeli-Palestinian security control.  In addition, Israel would ease the restrictions on the freedom of movement of the Palestinians in the Jordan Valley area and grant more work permits for Palestinians laborers to be able to work inside Israel. He also called on Israel to grant 2,500 family reunification permits to spouses of Palestinians so that they would be able to live in the West Bank. Furthermore, Israel proposed a series of measures including Israel’s approval of Palestinian postage for mail leaving via Jordan and to allow the export of textiles and furniture from the Gaza Strip in addition to allowing the transfer of NIS 50 Million to Banks in the Gaza Strip. The PLO Executive Committee rejected the offer. As a result, PLO President Mahmood Abbas told U.S. Envoy, David Hale,  that these proposals are not enough to entice the Palestinians to restart talks with Israel. Hussein Ash-Sheikh, member of the Central Committee of Fateh movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, told the Palestine Radio that Blair’s proposals are “ridiculous”.

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

The link to these articles are as follows:

1) Hamas, Fatah agree on unity gov’t; Abbas to be PM
2) Netanyahu: Fatah-Hamas deal will end diplomatic process
3) US: Palestinian deal ‘internal’ matter
4) US says won’t oppose Fatah-Hamas deal
5) PA Refuses to Resume Exploratory Talks with Israel
6) Report: PA rejects Israeli incentive package

President Obama is demanding that Bashar Assad of Syria immediately resign from power for his military crackdown of the Syrian opposition. In reality, Syria is engaged in an Islamic civil war where Assad’s ruling Alawite party who are Shiites Muslims are opposed by Sunni Muslims who are a majority in Syria.  Their is also a regional Middle East element to this Islamic civil war where Iran (Shiites) and Syria are being opposed by Turkey and the Gulf Arabs who are Sunni Muslims.

The UN Security Council voted on a resolution that would enable Bashar Assad to resign and set up a transitional government allowing Syrian opposition groups to form a government. Because they are permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China have veto power over any UN Resolution. Russia and China decided to use their veto. Russia said that they decided to use their veto for several reasons. #1) Their was no guarantee that international troops would be prevented from being used in Syria against Assad  #2) The language of the resolution failed to put equal blame on both the Assad government and Syrian opposition groups for Syria’s civil unrest.

Former Russian Prime Minister and KGB head Yevgeny Primakov explained the Russian veto to a Saudi Arabian newspaper by saying that regarding the removal of Qaddafi from Libya that “They [the West] assured us that this [Security Council] resolution aimed at nothing more than to provide air cover to prevent Qaddafi using his air force against civilians. They deceived us, for this resolution aimed primarily to overthrow him.” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Western states were stirring up trouble in Syria. “Western states inciting Syrian opposition to uncompromising actions, as well as those sending arms to them, giving them advice and direction, are participating in the process of fomenting the crisis,” Itar-Tass news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying. Ryabkov, speaking on a visit to Colombia, said Russia would take “drastic measures” if the West kept trying to intervene in Syria’s internal affairs through the Security Council. “The UN council is not a tool for intervention in internal affairs and is not the agency to decide which government is to be next in one country or another,” Ryabkov said. “If our foreign partners don’t understand that, we will have to use drastic measures to return them to real grounds.” Consequently, Russia and China did not trust Western intentions regarding the overthrow of Assad.

US Ambassador Susan Rice said that the US was “disgusted” by the Russian and Chinese veto.  Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said that the political conflict in Syria is very different than the upheaval in the other Arab countries caught up in the so called “Arab Spring” revolutions over the past year. The big difference, he said, is the Iranian mullah-led Shia regime’s active support of the Assads’ Basque party dictatorship. “Syria is part of Iran’s influence in the region, and the Iranians will shed a lot of Syrian blood to keep the Assad family dictatorship in place,” Bolton said. He pointed out that the civil war in Syria now is a proxy contest for a larger struggle in the region that encompasses Islam as a whole being fought between the Persian Shiite Muslims and the Arab Sunni Muslims. Undoubtedly, he said, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations will arm the opposition in Syria.

Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, a former member of Russia’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an interview on Russia Today TV on Feb. 1 said that “Russia is prepared to use military power to defend Iran and Syria. An attack on Syria or Iran is an indirect attack on Russia.” DEBKA reports that Russia has placed Rapid Reaction Force units at their Black Sea bases ready to militarily defend Assad if needed. Russia is concerned that a Sunni Muslim revolution in countries of the Middle East will create an unstable situation in Russia also. Muslim minorities make up 20 percent of the Russian population. They are a majority in the North Caucasus and the regions between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim organization based in Lebanon said that it is prepared to attack Israel if Western powers interfere in Syria and try to topple the government of Bashar Assad according to a Lebanese Hezbollah official as reported by the Palestinian News Network.

A war with Syria where Damascus is destroyed (Isaiah 17)  is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles is as follows:

1) Obama: Assad must step down ‘immediately
2) Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria
3) Russia vetoes motion after preparing Special Forces for Syria
4) Russia accuses West of arming Syrian rebels
5) Russia Is Prepared to Use Military Power to Defend Iran and Syria
6) ‘Assad’s army won’t survive beyond February’
7) US scenario in Syria: Turkish incursion, Israeli invasion
8) Bolton: Obama Incapable of Handling Syria Crisis
9) ‘Hezbollah will hit Israel if Syria attacked’

On January 23, the European Union voted for an oil embargo on Iranian oil imports which is set to be fully implemented on July 1. Iran’s oil minister said that an EU oil embargo against Iran will not prevent Iran from continuing its nuclear program. A successful EU oil embargo against Iran will be difficult because China, Japan, India and South Korea, Asia’s four largest economies, were the biggest users of Iran’s oil in the first half of 2011  relying on Iran for 59 percent of its exports.

In further defiance of the desires of the US and the European Union that Iran stop its nuclear program, western diplomats say that Iran is believed to be expanding uranium enrichment activity deep inside a mountain at the Fordow underground site near the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Qom. At the end of January, three International Atomic Energy inspectors were in Iran and had asked to meet the head of Iran’s nuclear program who is also a general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. However, Iran kept the inspectors away from any nuclear installations. A senior Obama administration official said that the prevention of Iran to allow the nuclear inspectors to see various sites were “foot-dragging at best and a disaster at worst.”

In order to squeeze the Iranian economy in a greater way, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order imposing stricter sanctions on Iran’s central bank where U.S. banks are now required to reject rather than block or freeze Iranian transactions and to also seize Iranian assets. The new restrictions also raised new warnings to financial institutions in other nations that they could face big penalties in the United States if they did business with Iran’s central bank. If fully carried out, that measure could isolate Iran’s central bank and effectively choke off the sale of Iranian oil by obstructing the means of payment. Most of the revenue for oil sales by Iran, one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, is processed by its central bank. The US  Treasury Department said the executive order “blocks all property and interests in property of the government of Iran, the Central Bank of Iran and all Iranian financial institutions (regardless of whether the financial institution is part of the government of Iran) that are in the United States, that come within the United States or that come within the possession or control of U.S. persons.”

In light of these developments, Israel, the US and Iran along with other Middle East countries continue to prepare for war.  The Iranian Guards Ground Forces chief Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour on February 4 announced the start of a three-week exercise in southern Iran and the Strait of Hormuz under conditions of war. Saudi Arabia announced that large military forces are now deployed around Saudi oil fields, pipelines and export facilities in the eastern provinces opposite the Persian Gulf, backed by anti-missile Patriot PAC-3 batteries. American, British and French fighter-bombers have been landing at Saudi air bases to safeguard the capital, Riyadh. Israel has accelerated, expanded and focused its military drill regimen for the coming conflict. On January 31, a division-scale exercise practiced the drafting of reservists under projected heavy missile bombardment of military bases, induction centers, national highways and towns from at least three directions: Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, as well as Iran. Two weeks earlier, the Israel Paratrooper Brigade staged its biggest exercise in over 15 years. US Secretary of State Leon Panetta said that Israel is preparing to attack Iran between April and June.  DEBKA reports that US warplanes and transports were to be seen this week on their way to Gulf destinations, presumably Saudi Arabia, at a frequency not seen in the Middle East for many years.  Furthermore, the US is in the process of a military buildup in the Persian Gulf of about 100,000 troops and its military equipment won’t be fully ready to engage Iran in a possible war until about May. There are already US, British and French aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf area ready to deal with any military conflict that may occur with Iran at any moment.

A US war with Iran is a tribulation event.

The link to these articles is as follows:

1) Iran says Europe oil ban won’t halt its nuclear work
2) Diplomats: Iran boosts nuclear work in bunker
3) Iran Crude Ban Difficult Without India, China: Chart of the Day
4) U.S. imposes stricter sanctions on Iran’s central bank
5) Obama Imposes Freeze on Iran Property in U.S.
6) As US and Israel dicker over Iran strike, American airlifts strength to the Gulf
7) Officials discuss Israel-Iran showdown
8.) Americans talk about an Israeli strike on Iran, but prepare own offensive

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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