You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The current situation with the Israel / Palestinian peace process
On December 17, the Palestinians through the Jordanians with the support of the Arab League submitted a UN Security Council draft resolution for recognition of a Palestinian state based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. However, at that time, the US which has veto rights at the UN Security Council rejected supporting the draft resolution because the Palestinians insisted that deadlines be set to end the Palestinian / Israel conflict. US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said: “We don’t think this resolution is constructive and (…) advances the goal of a two-state solution. We think it sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion. Further, we think that the resolution fails to account for Israel’s legitimate security needs, and the satisfaction of those needs, of course, are integral to a sustainable settlement,” Rathke said.
Nevertheless, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by phone that the Palestinians would press ahead with the initiative. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian strategy is to change the status quo. “This status quo is not sustainable and will not continue…Either this Palestinian Authority will lead Palestinians from occupation to independence, or Israel — the occupying power — will resume its full responsibilities as an occupying power,” Erekat said.
As a result, the Palestinians requested that the UN Security Council vote on the matter. There are 15 member nations on the UN Security Council. Nine votes are needed to pass. All 22 Arab countries endorsed the Palestinian draft. Representatives of the Arab countries in the United Nations claimed that they had managed to secure a majority of nine votes at the UN Security Council needed to pass the resolution for the Palestinians. Diplomats said France was seeking negotiations on the latest Palestinian draft resolution in the Security Council but that their idea was rejected by the Arab group. France was working on a more moderately-worded proposal to the Security Council, which it tried to merge with the Palestinian proposal. Their efforts were rejected by the Palestinians. However, despite the rejection of the French proposal to negotiate a compromised Palestinian proposal, Arab representatives persuaded France and Luxemburg to vote in favor of the Palestinian draft resolution. The vote was taken on December 31. However, the resolution failed. Eight countries voted in favor of the motion – China, France, Russia, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Luxembourg – two opposed – US and Australia – and five abstained – UK, Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea, Rwanda.
Prior to the vote, Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu had this to say about the Palestinian draft resolution:”We expect the entire international community, at least its responsible members, to strongly oppose this dictate to the UN and the Security Council. What we need is direct negotiations and not dictated terms,” Netanyahu said. “If the international community does not reject the Palestinian Authority’s proposal, we will do so. Israel will oppose any conditions that endanger its security.” After the Palestinian draft resolution was rejected, an Israel Foreign Ministry official said: “This vote was a clear message from international community to the Palestinians: Do not try to use tricks to replace direct negotiations.”
In explaining the reasons why the US voted NO, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said “Instead of giving voice to the aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis, this text addresses only one side. The United States voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because … peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table. The United States every day searches for new ways to take constructive steps to support the parties in making progress toward achieving a negotiated settlement,” she added. “The Security Council resolution put before us today is not one of those constructive steps.” The resolution, continued Power, ” is deeply imbalanced and contains many elements that are not conducive to negotiations between the parties, including unconstructive deadlines that take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”
As a result of the YES vote by France, Israel called the French representative to Israel to protest their vote. Israeli officials were surprised that France would support the Palestinian draft resolution after the Palestinians rejected efforts by France for a compromise proposal. The President of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a key Jewish organization fighting anti-Semitism, Abe Foxman said: “The vote by France in favor of the resolution raises questions about France’s ability to play a constructive role in helping to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One-sided measures such as this resolution will not bring about the reconciliation of Israel and the Palestinians. They reward Palestinian intransigence and delay the arrival of an independent state for the Palestinians. It is time to let President Abbas know that he will not achieve a Palestinian state by evading negotiations with Israel,” concluded Foxman.
The Palestinian representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour, responded to the defeat by accusing the Security Council of being “paralyzed” adding that it was time to end the “abhorrent Israeli occupation and impunity that has brought our people so much suffering.” Mansour said: “The result of today’s vote shows that the Security Council as a whole is clearly not ready and willing to shoulder its responsibilities in a way that would … allow us to open the doors for peace. It is thus most regrettable that the Security Council remains paralyzed,” he charged.
PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said “the UN Security Council vote is outrageously shameful.” Referring to the five countries who abstained – Britain, Lithuania, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Korea – she added “those countries that abstained demonstrated a lack of political will to hold Israel accountable and to act in accordance with the global rule of law and international humanitarian law.” She said that it is “ironic that while the UN designated 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, the resolution failed to pass as an indication of a failure of will by some members of the international community.”
Ashrawi claimed that the articles of the Palestinian resolution are consistent with declared American policy, international law, and the requirements of peace. “The extent to which the US has gone to protect Israeli impunity and lawlessness and to enable its criminal behavior is disgraceful and dangerous,” she added. Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that the Palestinian resolution is “fully in line with international law.” He said that certain countries “continue to ensure impunity to the Israeli occupation and its severe international law violations by not voting in favor of the resolution.”
Abbas’s unity partner Hamas, the terrorist organization ruling in Gaza, slammed him for the UN move, with Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum saying, “this was a unilateral decision taken by Abu Mazen (Abbas) who has taken the Palestinian decision-making process hostage. He is now facing two choices after this failure…he must make good on his threats to end security cooperation with the occupier, and sign the Rome Statute,” said Barhum.
Jordan’s UN Ambassador Dina Kawar, the Arab representative on the Security Council, said after the vote, “The fact that this draft resolution was not adopted will not at all prevent us from proceeding to push the international community, specifically the United Nations, towards an effective involvement to achieving a resolution to this conflict.”
If the Palestinians thought that they had the 9 votes for their resolution to pass, how did they end up not getting the 9 votes so that the resolution did not pass ? Israeli diplomats say that the US played a crucial role in the defeat of the Palestinian resolution. An Israel official from the Foreign Ministry said: “The US had a very significant role. Not only were they willing to veto, they also worked side-by-side with Israeli diplomats in order to prevent support for the decision within the Security Council. It’s not that they just said they would vote against it. They worked. There were phone calls and messages. The American diplomatic effort is noteworthy.”
Apart from the critical help from the United States, the results of the Security Council vote are also a testament of the diplomatic achievements made by Israel Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who marked Africa as a target for Israeli diplomatic efforts. The African nations proved themselves loyal during the moment of truth with the support of Rwanda and Nigeria who abstained. Representing the Netanyahu government, Lieberman set out on a trip that began in September of 2009 in which he visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda. In June 2014, Lieberman returned to Africa and visited Rwanda, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
A key nation in defeating the Palestinian draft was Nigeria. The Palestinians thought that Nigeria would be one of the nine countries who would vote for the Palestinian resolution. However, in the end, it became the nation that swayed from Palestinian support to abstention and by doing so enabled the prevention of the unilateral Palestinian resolution to pass. High-ranking officials within the Israel Foreign Ministry had already come to terms with the fact that Nigeria would give Palestinian the ninth vote majority and that the US would then use its veto to defeat the resolution. However, the events played out differently. “We discovered that the Nigerians did not submit and did not break down and voted according to their conscience. What finally tipped the balance was a phone call made by Netanyahu to the President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan.”
The Nigerian president is a good friend to Israel. In the last year, he visited Israel twice – the most recent visit occurred two months ago when Jonathan arrived in Israel on his private plane in order to lead mass for 3,000 Nigerian pilgrims in Jerusalem and place a note at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Jonathan met with Netanyahu and the two discussed a variety of subjects, including Nigeria’s way of voting in the UN Security Council. Israel attached great importance to the visit. It was clear that Nigeria would be a pivotal country if the Palestinians were to gain the necessary majority.
It should be noted that up until recently, Nigeria had the habit of automatically voting with the Palestinians – marking a historical change in the country’s voting patterns. Part of the change stemmed from the tightening relationship between Israel and Nigeria and from the common interests of the countries in the fight against global terrorism. Israel was one of the first nations in the world to offer the Nigerians help in the struggle against the Boko Haram terrorist group. According to various reports, Israel also sold the Nigerians weaponry to be used in the struggle, while the US had enacted an arms embargo against Nigeria
Every year, 30,000 Nigerians make their way to Israel. During Jonathan’s last visit to Israel, Israel launched an airline agreement with Nigeria that will introduce direct flight between the two countries. Israel not only cooperates with Nigeria in the war on terror but also in the fields of agriculture, construction, communication, intelligence and more. More than 50 Israeli companies operate in Nigeria in the civil engineering, energy, communication, and security industries among others.
Other than Nigeria, Rwanda was also a key African country that helped the Israeli effort to prevent the Palestinian resolution from passing in the UN – although their vote came as no surprise. Israel has very good relations with Rwanda, especially between Lieberman and Rwanda’s foreign minister and between Netanyahu and the Rwandan president. Israel and Rwanda have several business relations and the foreign ministry invests in aid to Rwanda in several different categories. In addition, another country that proved itself a loyal ally to Israel was Lithuania – which also abstained from voting.
PA chairperson Mahmoud Abbas responded to the failure of the resolution by calling a meeting with Palestinian representatives who discussed whether the Palestinians should join the International Criminal Court (ICC) and seek to hold Israel on trial for war crimes. As a result of that meeting, the Palestinians decided to sign the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the ICC. Abbas also signed applications for Palestinian membership in 20 other international organizations and treaties. The Palestinian decision was unanimous. The signing ceremony was broadcast live on Palestine TV. Hamas welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s decision to join 20 international organizations and treaties as a “step in the right direction.” Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat announced that the applications to join the international organizations and treaties would go into effect in 90 days.
Referring to the decision to join the ICC, Abbas said, “We want to file a complaint [against Israel.) We are being attacked. Our lands are being attacked every day. Who are we going to complain to? The Security Council has let us down. There’s an international organization and we’re going to it to complain.” Abbas told his party representatives: “Last night we got a veto. This is not the first and last veto. But we will remain steadfast and we will continue until we achieve our rights. They don’t want to give us our rights. Rights are not given; they are extracted.”
The Palestinians still have many obstacles before any Israeli (and not Israel as the ICC only deals with individuals) will be potentially tried at the International Criminal Court. The process is as follows:
1. The ICC Prosecutor must recognize Palestine as a full member and accept its signature to the Rome Statute. This is not guaranteed since the UN Security Council has not done so, but it probably will as foreshadowed by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a recent related decision.
2. The Palestinians must officially file a complaint against individual Israeli soldiers and leaders. This is also far from guaranteed as it could expose the Palestinians to “mutually assured legal destruction” with the Palestinians facing probably worse war crime cases for indiscriminate rocket fire and Israelis facing complex grayer fog-of-war cases, in the Palestinians’ best scenario.
3. The ICC Prosecutor must decide based on the complaint to order a preliminary examination and then a full criminal investigation. It cannot do this unless it shows that Israel refuses to or is unable to investigate itself. Israel investigating itself does not require a set number of convictions, just reasonable investigations and Israel has already ordered 13 investigations into the Gaza war.
4. The ICC Prosecutor, not Palestine, decides whether or not to indict. To indict, the prosecutor would need to believe there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to convict that there was essentially intent to murder, whereas many incidents in war are foggy and involve mere negligence or mistake.
5. Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute or the ICC and, like some other countries which have directly or indirectly ignored the ICC, could choose not to give its citizens or evidence over for trials.
6. The Palestinians cannot file complaints relating to any date before November 29, 2012, when the UN General Assembly recognized Palestine, and Israel, if it joined the ICC could not file complaints relating to any date earlier than July 1, 2002, the effective start date of the ICC.
The United States said it “strongly opposes” a request from the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), fearing this will further delay peace talks with Israel. US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said: “The United States is deeply troubled by the Palestinian action to join the ICC. It is an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people. Actions like this are not the answer,” Rathke said, calling the latest action “badly damaging” and one of many that “undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace. It is counterproductive and would do nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace. As we’ve said before, the United States continues to strongly oppose actions — by both parties — that undermine trust and create doubts about their commitment to a negotiated peace,” it continued. “Our position has not changed. Such actions only push the parties further apart.”
In response to the Palestinian application to join the ICC, Israel froze $127 million in Palestinian tax revenues which Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians. Previously, Israel had threatened to do if the Palestinians decided to submit an application to join the ICC.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Palestinians submit revised statehood draft to UN
2) Palestinians to submit revised resolution to United Nations for Israel withdrawal
3) Palestinian UN Bid Aims to Force Solution on Israel
4) UN Security Council rejects Palestinian statehood resolution
5) Ambassador Power: PA’s Resolution was Not Constructive
6) U.S.: Palestinian UN bid fails to account for Israel’s security needs
7) Behind the UN vote: How the Palestinian bid was defeated
8) Israel to call in French envoy to protest vote in UN Security Council
9) PLO: Attacks ‘Outrageously Shameful’ Votes Against PA UN Bid
10) ‘UN Security Council Has Reached a New Low with PA Bid’
11) Report: PA to Join International Criminal Court
12) Abbas signs Rome Statute, paving way for possible war crimes probe against Israel at ICC
13) Everything you wanted to know about the ICC
14) US ‘Strongly Opposes’ PA ICC Request
15) US to Palestinian Authority: ‘Actions like this are not the answer’
16) Israel freezes Palestinian funds in response to ICC 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