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
For the first time since the talks halted, U.S. President Barack Obama has directly blamed Israel for the failure of negotiations. According to a White House official, “Each time we arrived at a crossroads, another new settlement construction announcement was made. It was like putting a stick on the wheels.” The official also said Obama still believes that another round of talks is possible during his term but that for the time being the president prefers to sit back and let the sides ask themselves for an American mediation. Reports indicate that it was US President Barack Obama who was the “unnamed source” quoted in an interview with an Israeli newspaper on May 2 who blamed Israel’s building in settlements for the collapse of the peace talks. In the interview, the unnamed source said, “The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation. You’re supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel’s status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state.” A senior administration official said that the White House cleared the interview and the critical remarks faithfully reflect the president’s own views.
In a possible agreement to extend peace talks past April 29, Israel reportedly was willing to implement a partial settlement freeze. Israel Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said that there is a “silent freeze” on planning for further Jewish settlement expansion. While construction work is currently taking place on already approved projects, no new developments are planned and no tenders and bids are being issued, he said. “I don’t know of a formal policy to limit building. But when you look, de facto, what’s happening on the ground, yes, you feel there is a silent freeze in terms of planning and in terms of government construction,” Danon said. “And that’s something that bothers me.” This “freeze” is being enforced everywhere — within and outside the so-called settlement blocs, he said.
Danon said he wasn’t sure why the government would agree to quietly freeze settlement expansion, suggesting that pressure from the United States might be behind it. “Building in the West Bank is a major issue among the Americans,” he said. The US is putting “a lot of pressure on us.” Dani Dayan, of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in the West Bank backed Danon’s claim of a “silent” settlement freeze. “For the last three months, the planning committee of the Civil Administration in charge of building has not convened even once,” he said. “Plans for new buildings were not advanced one inch, let alone approved. There are no new tenders at all,” he said. “As far as we know, this is because of a direct order from the Prime Minister’s Office,” Dayan charged, adding that he assumes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “intimidated” by “threats” from the White House or the US State Department.
A new “Palestinian consensus government” to be named by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas is to be finalized within days, a senior Hamas official said. Bassem Naim, an adviser to Hamas’s premier in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said a senior member of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement would meet with Hamas officials in Gaza this week to conclude negotiations. “We expect the government to be announced by (Abbas) early the following week,” he said. Moussa Abu Marzouk, head of the Hamas negotiating team, said the talks would be finalized next week and a unity government would be announced shortly afterwards. All candidates proposed for the Palestinian unity government will be politically “impartial,” Fatah official Fayez Abu Atiyeh said. The formation of a proposed unity cabinet is nearly complete, according to Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri. Speaking in Gaza’s Al-Omri Mosque, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced that in the coming days the temporary leadership of the PLO will meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Haniyeh said that according to the deal Hamas, along with Islamic Jihad, would be integrated in the PLO’s leadership and take part in elections for PLO institutions. Islamic Jihad has never renounced violence against Israel. According to the Hamas-Fatah unity agreement which was announced at the end of April, Abbas will announce the dates for elections, and Fatah and Hamas will form a unity government.
If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tears up his pact with Hamas, “then it will open the way for somehow resuming the peace negotiations” with Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. Netanyahu said that while Palestinian “national unity for peace is good, a pact with Hamas, which openly calls for our destruction and practices terror against our people – that’s bad.” The prime minister said that he was asked by US Secretary of State, John Kerry whether he would make a peace agreement with a Palestinian Authority that doesn’t govern all the Palestinian people, adding that “I said ‘yes,’ because I will make peace with that part of the Palestinian people that is prepared to live in peace with the State of Israel.” If Abbas “establishes a government of national unity, and [if] Hamas continues to fire rockets to Israel, then we’ll have to hold President Abbas responsible. It just doesn’t make sense for him to [forge] this pact if he wants peace.”
Asked what would happen if Hamas accepted the quartet’s conditions for engagement and renounced terrorism, recognized Israel and accepted previous agreements, Netanyahu said “that would obviously be an entirely different situation, but unfortunately I don’t see it happening. They’re very ideological, very militant and very extreme, and they show no signs of such change.” Meanwhile, Abbas was hoping to persuade the US administration to accept a Palestinian unity government that would be established in accordance with last month’s reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas. Abbas planned to make it clear to Kerry that the proposed government would recognize Israel and reject violence, a senior Palestinian official said.
Noting that this was the first meeting between Kerry and Abbas since the breakdown of the US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the official said that the new government would report directly to the PA president and would not deal with issues related to the peace process. “There’s no reason why the Americans should oppose the unity government, because it would consist of independent figures and technocrats,” the official said. “The government would serve for a limited period of six months and its responsibilities would be restricted to day-to-day affairs of the Palestinian public. President Abbas and the PLO are the only ones entitled to conduct peace talks with Israel,” he added. Another Palestinian official said that he was “optimistic” that the US administration would not stand against the Hamas-Fatah deal. The official said that the PA leadership has “succeeded” in convincing some top members of the US administration that the rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah would not have a negative impact on the peace process. Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Aytah told reporters the government would consist of independent figures with no political affiliations so as not to give Israel or the US an “excuse” to boycott the PA.
In a sign of cooperation between Fatah and Hamas, only two weeks after signing a reconciliation deal, the Hamas daily newspaper was distributed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the first time in seven years. The Palestinian Authority government approved the distribution of Felesteen as part of efforts to promote unity between the two Palestinian factions.The move followed a decision by the Hamas government in Gaza to allow three newspapers published in the Palestinian Authority to be distributed in the coastal territory.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said that, despite his group’s reconciliation with Fatah, Hamas was still committed to “resistance” against Israel. “We have turned the page on this division… Hamas has already made sacrifices and this was necessary to be closer with our brothers, but with the invader we will not make any compromises,” said Mashaal. “I’m aware that many real challenges lay ahead. We can overcome them,” he added, referring to the April 23 pact which calls for a unity government to be formed. “The reconciliation does not mean an end to our resistance against the invaders, resistance will continue as long as the occupation exists,” insisted Mashaal.
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas thinks that Hamas does not need to recognize Israel or renounce terrorism, even after the unity pact with his Fatah movement. Recently, Abbas had a conversation with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice. During the conversation, Abbas told Rice that Hamas will not be a part of the new unity government, nor will that government include representatives of other Palestinian Arab organizations. Rather, the official said, it will be made up of independent professionals who are politically unaffiliated. Abbas also reportedly told Rice that he will head the new unity government and that this government will adopt his political platform which renounces violence. Rice told Abbas during their meeting that “any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties.”
Meanwhile, Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will be held responsible for violence from Gaza in light of the unity deal. “Hamas is committed to our destruction. We remain committed to advancing the peace, preferably a negotiated peace. But we can only negotiate with a government whose constituent parts are committed to peace,” said Netanyahu. He added that as long as PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas remains committed to the unity deal with Hamas, “a terrorist organization that regularly fires rockets into Israel, then we’ll have to hold him accountable for every rocket that is fired from Gaza, to Israel.”
European Union (EU) Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen said that he didn’t feel peace talks should have been stopped last month over the unity deal between Fatah and the terrorist group Hamas. “I don’t see a reason for the peace talks stopping in order to send a message that there’s a difference between Fatah and Hamas,” said Faaborg-Andersen. Ironically, Hamas is on the EU’s official list of terrorist organizations.
Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), met privately in London with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. In the meeting, Livni expressed to Abbas Israel’s dissatisfaction with the unity pact he reached with Hamas. The meeting was the first between Abbas and a senior Israeli official since Israel pulled out of the peace talks in response to the Hamas-Fatah unity pact. Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was informed in advance about the meeting and was unhappy about it. He said that Livni was only representing herself and not the Israeli government. Netanyahu reiterated that the position of the government, as passed unanimously by the security cabinet, is not to negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, which he restated is “a terrorist organization that declares its intentions to destroy the state of Israel.”
Livni defended her decision to meet Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas saying, “I would like to remind everyone that the conflict isn’t over. We’re still here and the Palestinians are still here. Our interest is to resolve the conflict, and ignoring reality is not an option. Ignoring the other side, not listening or talking, is irresponsible,” Livni insisted. “A resolution is best achieved through direct negotiations, but we can’t ignore the agreement between Hamas and Fatah. To all those politicians up in arms, I want to be clear: we’ll continue doing what we believe in, and that’s what I did last week by meeting [Abbas],” Livni said.
Finally, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the impasse in peace talks with the Palestinians was likely to continue. “As of now, the impasse in negotiations with the Palestinians is expected to continue,” Lieberman said. He accused Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas of having “no interest to reach a deal with Israel, no matter what Israel offers him,” noting past proposals of Israeli land concessions Abbas had turned down. He reiterated the Israeli stance of no negotiations with the Palestinian unity government, “so long Hamas does not accept the Quartet conditions” of recognizing Israel, rejecting violence and abiding by existing agreements.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) US Official: President Obama ‘Blames’ Israel’s ‘Stubbornness’ For Kerry’s Peace Process Failure
2) Danon: Government has frozen settlement expansion plans
3) Hamas Says ‘Unity Government’ Coming Within Days
4) Kerry tells Abbas: ‘Door remains open’ to peace talks with Israel
5) Hamas and Islamic Jihad Say They’re Joining PLO Leadership
6) Abbas hopes to convince US to accept Fatah-Hamas Palestinian unity government
7) Palestinian Authority lifts ban on Hamas daily
8) Hamas Leader: Unity Or Not, Resistance Will Continue
9) Abbas: Hamas Doesn’t Need to Recognize Israel
10) Netanyahu Holds PA Accountable for ‘Every Gaza Rocket’
11) EU Envoy Says ‘No Reason’ to Stop Talks Over Fatah-Hamas Unity
12) Livni Meets Abbas in London
13) As Livni Meets Abbas, Bibi Says She Represents Only Herself
14) Livni Unrepentant Over Unofficial Abbas Meeting
15) Peace talks with Palestinians unlikely to resume: Lieberman
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