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 / PLO peace process
In what appeared to be a possible breakthrough in the Middle East peace talks, Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to the details of a deal which would include the U.S. release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in return for Israeli concessions with the Palestinians to continue the peace talks past April 29. Pollard, an American citizen who was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995, pleaded guilty in 1987 and was convicted of spying for Israel. He has spent more than 25 years in a US jail. He would be released around Passover in exchange for the release of 400 Palestinian prisoners. According to the deal, the peace talks would extend into 2015. Kerry wanted Netanyahu to call a Cabinet meeting to approve the deal. However, a number of government ministers and coalition members announced they would not support a deal to free Palestinian prisoners – even if included convicted US-Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard. Israel Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said that “if the US wants to make a true gesture (of friendship) it should free Pollard without conditions so he will have Passover dinner with his family in Israel. This is how allies behave.” In addition, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman attacked a possible deal between Israel, the US, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to release more Palestinian Arab and Israeli Arab terrorists, saying he “would oppose any arrangement that would include releasing high-security prisoners who are citizens of the State of Israel. We have to manage the conflict as possible,” Liberman stated. “I do not know if this is a real crisis or a fabricated crisis. Whether it is serious or tactical or strategic, we will get the the answer to this in the coming days,” he continued. “The State of Israel did everything and now the ball is in the Palestinians’ court. With every crisis there is also a chance [for success]. We have something waiting on the political horizon, and it does not have to be the Palestinians,” he added. “If they do not want to negotiate we do not need to chase them and not make any ‘gestures,’ if [they] do not want to negotiate it’s [their] decision and [theirs] only. When the Palestinians joined UNESCO, it didn’t give them independence or bring about Middle East peace,” Liberman said. “It’s a mistake for them to go to the UN, but it’s what they want to do and it’s their right. We proved Israel is ready to reach a final-status agreement with the Palestinians,” he said. “But as much as Israel wanted to, it doesn’t look like it’s happening. In the last government, we also made difficult gestures, including a settlement freeze and then too it didn’t get us a millimeter closer to an agreement with the Palestinians.”
The details of the deal involved the following parameters:
1) Palestinians will agree to extend negotiations into 2015 to avoid unilateral moves at the United Nations;
2) Israel will release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners, which will include 14 Israeli Arab prisoners;
3) Israel will release another 400 Palestinian prisoners “without blood on their hands” who are about to finish their sentences
4) Israel will freeze most of the construction in the settlements with the exception of East Jerusalem.
However, several hours prior to Netanyahu calling a Cabinet meeting to approve the US plan to extend peace talks, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas sent out applications for “the independent Palestinian state” to join 15 UN agencies as members. He indicated that he anticipated that membership would be smoothly granted. The PA’s envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said the requests were “a formality” and that their membership in the treaties would come into effect “30 days after the Secretary General receives the letter of accession.” In doing so, Abbas turned his back on a commitment he made prior to the start of direct peace talks to not take unilateral step to join UN bodies while peace talks were in progress. Israel Knesset member, Yuli Edelstein, said the “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to sign applications to join international organizations is an outrageous violation of the conditions to renew negotiations, since the Palestinians committed to not taking unilateral steps to receive international recognition during the talks.” As a result of the move, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, canceled plans for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to continue the peace talks past April 29. A Palestinian official said that Palestine had signed applications to join treaties on human, civil, disabled and women’s rights. The first document Abbas signed was the Fourth Geneva Convention, sources in the Palestinian Authority said. A member of Abbas’s Fatah faction of the Palestinians official said that although Abbas didn’t sign applications for the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, applying for membership there would be the next step. The Palestinians said the public unilateral move to sign the applications was prompted by Israel’s decision to condition the release of a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners held in its jails on an agreement to extend the peace talks beyond their April 29 deadline.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki handed the letters to UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry and said: “These treaties and conventions will help to protect and promote basic rights of the Palestinian people and will enable the State of Palestine to be a responsible actor on the international stage,” said Ashraf Khatib, a communications adviser for the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department. “These treaties are vital to continued Palestinian institutional building, good governance and the upholding of human rights, all of which form the basis for an independent and sovereign State of Palestine. Palestine will pursue this non-violent track, including all possible diplomatic venues, in a way which serves the best interests of its people and the cause of a just peace.”
The Palestinians do not plan to stop at joining these 15 UN entities. The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations says his government may seek to join the International Criminal Court and more UN agencies if there is no progress in peace talks with the Israelis. The Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour said that the 15 international conventions the Palestinians are seeking to join were just a first group and more could follow depending on Israel’s actions. “What we did is legal,” he insisted, saying “it is our right” to join UN treaties and agencies, since the Palestinians obtained the status of an observer state in November 2012. “Our inclusion in the Geneva convention will be effective immediately because we are under occupation,” Mansour claimed, adding that these applications are just a first wave, with more coming depending on “the interest of the Palestinian people” as well as “the behavior of Israel.”
Despite the Palestinian intention to join UN organizations, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that the US has every intention of moving the peace process forward. “What is important to say about the Middle East right now is it is completely premature tonight to draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment, about today’s events and where things are,” Kerry said. “This is a moment to be really clear-eyed and sober about this process. It is difficult, it is emotional, it requires huge decisions, some of them with great political difficulty, all of which need to come together simultaneously.” Kerry refused to place responsibility for the crisis on any of the parties. “Now obviously, the Palestinian prisoners were due to be released on March 29th” Kerry said. “I’m not going to get into the who, why, what, when, where, how of why we’re where we are today. We’re where we are today – and the important thing is to keep the process moving and find a way to see whether the parties are prepared to move forward. In the end, this is up to the parties.” However, a senior US official said that the Americans believe Israel and the Palestinians should find a way out of this latest deadlock themselves and that Kerry’s current efforts had been exhausted. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said that the United States opposes all unilateral actions that the Palestinians take to statehood. US lawmakers said they were unhappy about the Palestinian leadership’s decision to sign more than a dozen international conventions and warned it could trigger a cutoff of US aid.
A spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction has admitted that the PA is “blackmailing” Israel into releasing terrorist prisoners. Spokesman Ahmad Assaf revealed on official PA TV that the PA is using its non-member observer status in the United Nations (UN), given in 2012, as a “weapon” against Israel. Given the UN status, the PA has been “waving around” the threat of going to the International Criminal Court for around two years according to Assaf: “we’ve obtained the release of the prisoners, we blackmailed [Israel], that is, in quotation marks, and we’ve taken important positions because we have a card that we’re waving around.” Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Official Nabil Shaath revealed last November that the PA is only staying in the peace talks to secure the release of the 104 terrorists promised by Israel as a “gesture” to restart peace talks last July.
Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni spoke out strongly against the Palestinian Authority (PA) after PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas applied to the UN and other international organizations for legitimacy. “The PA has breached its obligations [in peace talks] by applying to the UN,” Livni stated. “If they want a state they need to understand that it will only be established on the negotiating table [with Israel].” Calling recent events “complicated,” Livni said that her team “will continue representing the interests of the State of Israel” despite the move, and urged the government to return to talks. “Not the Palestinians, nor anyone else can dictate to us whether or not we are fighting for peace,” she continued. “Even when peace seems very far away, and when the other side’s conduct is wrong [. . .] we will return to the negotiating table, we are obligated to return to talks.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinians have compiled a new list of demands for the continuation of peace talks, ranging from the release of some 1,200 Palestinian prisoners to a written commitment by Israel accepting the Palestinian state along the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The list was presented to the PLO by Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Al-Aalul, a Fatah central committee member, and indicated a hardening of positions by the Palestinians as talks falter.
The list of demands are:
1) A written commitment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu that the borders of the Palestinian state will be along the 1967 ‘green-line’ and that its capital will be East Jerusalem.
2) The release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners, including political heavyweights Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Saadat and Fuad Shubkhi.
3) An end to the Egyptian-Israeli blockade on Gaza, and the formulation of dealing allowing the flow of goods into Gaza.
4) A halt in construction in East Jerusalem.
5) The IDF will not be allowed to enter Area A – the area of the West Bank under autonomous PA control since the Oslo Accords – to conduct arrests or assassinations
6) Israel will permit the PA control over Area C – currently under Israel’s control.
7) The Palestinians known as the Church of Nativity deportees – a group of terrorist who barricaded themselves in the Church of the Nativity on April 2, 2002 and were later deported to European nations and the Gaza Strip – will be allowed to return to the West Bank.
8) The reopening of a number of Palestinian development agencies Israel shut down.
As a result of the Palestinian intention to apply to 15 UN organizations and refusal to extend negotiations with Israel into 2015, Israel said that will not release the fourth batch of 26 Palestinian terrorists it was to have freed on March 29. According to Israel chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, the Palestinians’ unilateral application to UN conventions and treaties came at a time when they knew full well that Israel was working in a coordinated and genuine fashion to reach an agreement that would have led to the release of the Palestinian prisoners. Since the agreement to release them was dependent on the Palestinians upholding their commitment not to turn to international organizations, “under these conditions Israel cannot release the fourth batch of prisoners,” Livni said. Both sides, she said, now have to consider how to move forward in the negotiations. She called on the Palestinians to retract their move and return to negotiations.
In an effort to bring both sides back to the negotiating table, US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk had meetings with Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian sources described the meeting as “long and heated,” and saying it “ended without any signs of bringing both sides back to the negotiating table.” US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk, who arranged the meeting, struggled “to control heated exchanges between both sides.” Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat said they were negotiating on behalf of the UN-recognized state of “Palestine,” not in the name of the Palestine Authority whose “inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel.” The Israeli team then reportedly responded by threatening “endless” sanctions on the Palestinians, to which Erekat responded that the PLO would go after Israeli officials as “war criminals” in international institutions. In response, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Unilateral steps on [the Palestinians’] part will be met with unilateral steps on our part. We are ready to continue the talks but not at any price,” Netanyahu told his cabinet. “The Palestinians have much to lose by this unilateral move [the 15 applications]. They will achieve a state only by direct negotiations, not by empty statements and not by unilateral moves. These will only push a peace agreement farther away,” Netanyahu said.
Though neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority formally announced both Israeli and Palestinian officials indicated that the peace negotiations have essentially collapsed. PA President Mahmoud Abbas said, “I would rather become a martyr” than rescind the applications he signed to join 15 UN and other international treaties and conventions. Furthermore, the Palestinians issued a long list of new preconditions for resuming talks — demands that Israeli officials privately dismissed immediately. As a result, US Secretary of State, John Kerry said that the US needed to “evaluate very carefully” their ongoing engagement in peace efforts, and that the US was “not going to sit there indefinitely.” US President Barack Obama believes that Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts in the Middle East “may be reaching (their) limit.” A senior US official said, “If Kerry goes too far, there’s the risk of looking desperate.” Some of Kerry’s senior staff as well as White House staffers believe that it is time for the secretary of state to say “enough” and “lower the volume” on peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and “see how things unfold. A point will come where he has to go out and own the failure,” a US official said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Malki says he does not think the Americans will punish the Palestinians politically or financially for their bid to join 15 United Nations agencies – a move criticized by US President Barack Obama as “disappointing.” Al-Malki said, “I do not expect any consequences coming from the US Congress regarding the possibility of cutting of US aid to the Palestinians. “It has nothing to do with the decision taken by Congress back in the 80’s to punish the Palestinians for becoming members of UN specialized agencies,” Al-Malki said referring to US law that prohibits funding to the PA if it receives UN membership outside the negotiation process. It law states clearly that assistance to the PA will be severed if “the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.” “I don’t think this will harm in any way the possibilities to continue the negotiations or it will deter others from continuing their efforts,” Al Malki said. “We gave a chance for the American administration to use its relationship with the Israelis to convince them to fulfill and implement their obligations. After we were convinced they were not going to do this, we made this move to protect the Palestinians,” he said. Khalil Shaheen, the Director of Research and Policies at the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies said: “No one would dare boycott the Palestinians – not even the Americans,” he said. “Boycotting the Palestinians means isolating the American role they play in the Middle East,” he said. Shaheen says the move boosted the morale of Palestinians, and the public image of President Abbas.
As a result, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected an appeal from US Secretary of State John Kerry to halt applications to join several international organizations. Instead, Abbas requested an emergency meeting with the Arab League foreign ministers to discuss the recent crisis in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The PA president was expected to ask for the Arab League’s support of the Palestinian position both politically and financially. Palestinian official, Nabil Shaath said that talks with Israel will fail unless the US applies more pressure on Israel. “If the US becomes convinced that the same approach will make no progress, then it will be possible to save the situation. Otherwise negotiations can’t go on.” Shaath also claimed that the Palestinians could not make any more concessions after “giving up 78 percent of our land to Israel.” Finally, Palestinian official, Mohammed Ishtayeh, said that if it becomes apparent by April 29 that Kerry’s efforts have collapsed, the Palestinians are set to resume the recognition campaign, Ishtayeh said, without giving a timeline. The Palestinians can join 63 agencies, treaties and conventions which are being divided into four groups, he said, adding that “the second application to join other UN organizations is ready for signing.” Asked about possible Israeli retaliation, Ishtayeh said he believes the Palestinians can count on continued financial aid from Europe and the Arab world.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Reports: Pollard Deal ‘Nearly Sealed’
2) Abbas dumps another US-led peace effort, Kerry gives up on shuttle, Pollard release recedes
3) Kerry nixes Ramallah trip as Abbas courts unilateral moves
4) Abbas signs Palestine request to join 15 UN bodies
5) Despite Kerry’s claim, Abbas has applied to join UN-related groups
6) UN Confirms it Received PA’s Applications
7) Palestinian envoy threatens Israel with ICC membership
8) Deal to free Pollard could tear coalition apart
9) Liberman Pledges to Oppose Release of Israeli-Arab Terrorists
10) Liberman tells Palestinians UN move is mistake
11) Knesset Speaker: Palestinian Authority ‘outrageously violated agreements’
12) Despite Palestinian move to join world bodies, Kerry vows to push peace talks ahead
13) US taking step back from peace talks, report says
14) US opposes Palestinian moves to statehood
15) US lawmakers: Palestinians could lose US aid over statehood move
16) PA Admits ‘Blackmailing’ Israel To Free Terrorists
17) Livni Says PA ‘Breached its Obligations’, Urges Return to Talks
18) Palestinians publish new list of demands: PM must agree to East Jerusalem as capital
19) Israel cancels fourth prisoner release
20) ‘Palestinians say no breakthrough in last-ditch peace efforts’
21) No formal declarations, but both sides indicate talks over
22) Kerry’s threat to ‘evaluate’ next steps fails to break peace deadlock
23) ‘Obama believes Kerry’s effort may be reaching its limit’
24) Palestinian leadership confident Americans won’t punish UN move
25) Abbas rejects plea by Kerry to halt international treaty applications
26) Abbas calls emergency Arab League meeting to discuss failing peace talks
27) Palestinians ready to widen global recognition bid
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