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
US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Israel for being the blame in stalled peace talks with the Palestinians because of its failure to release the fourth round of Palestinian terrorists and an announcement to build 700 more houses in East Jerusalem. Under the terms of renewed talks, Israel had promised to release 104 long-held Palestinian prisoners in four groups, while the Palestinians said they would suspend a campaign to sign up the “state of Palestine” for various UN agencies. When Israel did not release the Palestinian terrorists on March 29 because the Palestinians refused to extend peace talks with Israel past April 29, the Palestinians signed letters to join 15 international conventions. Speaking in a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said: “The prisoners were not released by Israel on the day they were supposed to be released and then another day passed and another day – and then 700 units were approved in Jerusalem and then poof…” Kerry further said that the United States backs Israel’s demand for recognition as a Jewish State: “The government of the United States and the president supports the notion of Israel being defined as a Jewish state. We believe that this should happen. But when it happens, and how it happens, has to be part of the negotiations. It’s not going to happen in the beginning.” In response, Israel Economy Minister Naftali Bennett slammed the comments, saying: “For years there was an attempt to block construction in Jerusalem by blasts and explosions, but it didn’t happen. Construction in Jerusalem is not a ‘poof’, it is Zionism and we will never apologize for it.”
Kerry added that as of now, the dispute is over the process of the negotiations, and “not over the substance of the final status agreement. It’s over how do you get to the discussion of the final status agreement. So our hope is that we can work a way through this but in the end the parties are going to have to make that decision. It’s not our decision. Hinting that American efforts are limited, the Secretary of State said: “you know, we can cajole, we can leverage, we can offer one thing or another to try to be helpful, they have to make the fundamental decision. Israel said that it is “deeply disappointed” by comments made by US Secretary of State John Kerry where he insinuated that Israel was mostly the blame for the crisis in the current peace talks.
A senior Israeli official said that Kerry’s comments “will both hurt the negotiations and harden Palestinian positions.” The official continued by saying “Secretary Kerry knows that it was the Palestinians who said ‘no’ to continued direct talks with Israel in November; who said ‘no’ to his proposed framework for final status talks; who said ‘no’ to even discussing recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; who said ‘no’ to a meeting with Kerry himself; and who said ‘no’ to an extension of the talks.” Israel is willing to enter negotiations without pre-conditions, including the commitment to halt settlement construction during the talks duration.“ At the same time, in the understandings reached prior to the talks, Israel did not commit to any limitation on construction. Therefore, the Palestinian claim that building in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, was a violation of the understandings is contrary to the facts. Both the American negotiating team and the Palestinians know full well that Israel made no such commitment.” As a result, Israeli officials said that the likelihood that derailed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will get back on track before expiring at the end of April is virtually zero. “There is no chance of the negotiations restarting in the coming weeks.” According to Israel Channel 2, the American-mediated negotiations-about-negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will only restart after Passover. At this time, there is no agreement to extend talks past April 29. There have been discussions to extend peace talks past April 29 based upon Israel willing to release Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails and partially freeze settlement construction and the US would free American-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from federal prison.
A senior Israeli official also blamed Kerry for the breakdown in talks. “Kerry is responsible for the crisis.” This was because Kerry inaccurately told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would be willing to release Israeli Arabs in the fourth group of prisoners, when Israel had not agreed to do so. There was also a difference between the sides about how many prisoners would go free. The secretary had months to try to resolve the discrepancies but failed to do so, the official said. Eventually, Kerry acknowledged to Israel that he’d “made a mistake here” on the issue of Israeli-Arab terror convicts and discussion began on a complex deal under which the US would free Pollard, Israel would release the Israeli Arab and other prisoners in the final group, as well as hundreds more prisoners, and would also partially freeze settlement construction, and the Palestinians would halt all unilateral moves toward statehood and agree to continue the talks. But that deal was derailed when Abbas applied to join 15 UN and other international treaties last week and days of frenzied contacts in the past has failed to achieve a new agreement. Therefore, Israeli officials said that there was “zero chance that an agreement will be reached in the coming weeks” that will allow the talks to continue beyond an April 29 deadline.
As a result of a Palestinian decision to join 15 international organizations, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a freeze on the transfer of customs and other deductions to the Palestinian Authority over its unilateral application to UN agencies to bypass negotiations. These moneys amount to about $100 million a month. The Palestinians owe Israeli companies hundreds of millions of dollars for electricity, power and other services. Israel said that it would deduct the Palestinian debt against its monthly transfer of tax money that it collects for the Palestinians. Under the Oslo interim peace accords of 1993 and 1995, Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and transfers about $100 million a month. Without it, the Palestinian Authority likely couldn’t pay the salaries of its tens of thousands of employees. Israel did not say how long the money would be withheld. Furthermore, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israeli cabinet members, directors-general of government ministries and other senior bureaucrats to no longer be in communication with their Palestinian counterparts but exempted Israel chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni. Livni and defense and security officials would still be permitted to talk to the Palestinians. Also, Israeli officials have prevented Palestinian mobile phone company from transferring equipment to the Gaza Strip. The development of offshore gas fields opposite the Gaza Strip will also be halted.
Reacting to the announcement, Palestinian Labor Minister Ahmad Majdalani called the Israeli decision illegal and a political, rather than economic move. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat blast Israel’s decision to stop tax money transfers to the PA calling it “piracy”. After being asked about the move, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US has yet hear an official Israeli announcement on the issue, but nonetheless noted that the US “would regard such a development as unfortunate.” Stressing the importance of the economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, she further said “We believe that the regular transfer of the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been beneficial and is important to the well-being of the Palestinian economy.”
Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that Israel will agree to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinian Authority on condition that it removes its application to join 15 international treaties and conventions. Liberman said that while he favors negotiations, he will not be “a sucker.” He added: “We won’t agree to the Palestinians acting unilaterally without exacting a price from them.” Liberman blamed PA President Mahmoud Abbas for the breakdown of talks. The foreign minister said that Abbas applied for membership in international treaties just as both sides were on the verge of completing a deal for a prisoner release. Liberman said that while Israel was ready to discuss all the outstanding issues, it was not going to accept a Palestinian demand that the talks be devoted exclusively to the issue of the borders of a future Palestinian state.
The leader of the political party, Jewish Home, Naftali Bennett said that his party would send Israel to new elections if the government decided to free Palestinian prisoners, namely a group of Israeli-Arab terrorists, as part of attempts to salvage peace talks, after the party held a faction meeting. Also, some members of Netanyahu’s Likud political party said that they would quit if such a deal passes.
Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official accused Israel of using the crisis in the negotiations to shore up its list of demands in any peace agreement. The Palestinians are insisting that Israel must release 26 prisoners from its jails as promised when it started last summer. Mohamed Shtayeh, member of the Fatah Central Committee said: “Israel is trying to extend the negotiations beyond the agreed date [April 29],” Shtayeh said. “We say that the extension of the talks is not significant. What is more important is whether Israel is serious and has good intentions in pursuing the negotiations. Israel should release the prisoners, stop settlement construction and accept the 1967 borders as a basis for a two-state solution.” Shtayeh pointed out that the PA leadership has demands of its own, including the release of Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Secretary-General Ahmed Sa’adat. Shtayeh also said that the Palestinians are also opposed to the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He said this demand is baseless, since the PLO and Israel had mutually recognized each other in 1993. “The Palestinian people and their leadership have already made a historic concession by accepting a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines, which makes up 22 percent of the size of historic Palestine,” Shtayeh said. “Even if we return to the negotiating table, we won’t accept a Palestinian state on anything less than the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Shtayeh said. “We also can’t make more concessions. Isn’t it enough that we already gave up 78% of our land in favor of Israel? We also won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” Sha’ath said that the PA leadership is planning to pursue its efforts to join more international institutions and treaties.
Furthermore, Palestinian ambassador to Russia Fayed Mustafa called for a complete over-haul of the format of peace talks saying that the effort would be aided by greater involvment from the “quartet” of intermediaries including Russia and the EU. “The settlement mechanism has proven ineffective and has to be revised. We need to include the ‘quartet’ of intermediaries, which has recently been overlooked, and take notice of Russian and European participation as members of the ‘quartet’,” Mustafa stated. The “quartet” of Middle East peace negotiators includes, the US, UN, EU and Russia.
In addition, the Palestinian UN envoy is urging the world to boycott products from “illegal” Israeli settlements as part of a stepped up campaign to help Palestine become independent. Riyad Mansour warned that if the Israelis aren’t prepared to negotiate “in good faith,” the Palestinians will be forced “to move into the next stage of holding them accountable for all of their illegal behavior in all fronts, politically, diplomatically and legally.” Mansour said Palestine will officially become a party to 15 international conventions it has applied to join on May 3 – and is ready with more applications, depending on Israel’s actions. Mansour also said that the Palestinians were prepared to join more international groups if Israel retaliated. As a UN non-member state, Palestinians can join 63 international agencies and accords. Furthermore, Arab League foreign ministers said Israel was “wholly responsible for the dangerous stalemate” in US-brokered peace talks scheduled to end on April 29.
Finally, twenty-five years after making their first bid for membership, the Palestinians can join the Geneva Conventions governing the rules of war and military occupations, the Swiss government said. Both the United Nations and the Swiss government have accepted the Palestinian Authority’s requests to join 14 international treaties and conventions. Israel had opposed the move, arguing that there is no universally recognized Palestinian state and that it would complicate peace talks. Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry, as the depositary of the Geneva Conventions, said that “the state of Palestine” acceded to the conventions effective April 2. The Geneva Conventions and their additional Protocols are the fundamental texts of humanitarian law. Palestinians are attached in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians, which defines the duties of “occupying” power. This Convention, which was introduced on August 12, 1949, is often cited by the Palestinian Authority because of its applicability to the Palestinian territories as “occupied territories,” as well as Jewish colonization.
Among the obligations of an occupying power, specified in Article 49 of the Convention, is the prohibition of forced transfers and deportations of populations or individuals, as well as the destruction of movable or immovable property, unless it is made “absolutely necessary by military operations.” One aspect of the Geneva Conventions that has raised particular concern in Israel is the prohibition on colonizing occupied land. Israel says this should not apply to the West Bank and Gaza because the two territories exist in sovereignty limbo – no longer claimed by Jordan and Egypt, who ruled them before 1967, while the Palestinians have never had a state. Israel has also argued that east Jerusalem should not be considered occupied because it has extended citizenship rights to its Arab residents, although only several thousand of the city’s quarter million Arab residents have taken advantage of this. The international community has not recognized Israel’s annexation.
The Palestine Liberation Organization first asked to join the Geneva Conventions on June 21, 1989. At the time, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said it was not in a position to decide on the bid “due to the uncertainty within the international community as to the existence or non-existence of a State of Palestine.” Also, the United Nations said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepted Palestinian applications to join 13 other conventions, saying they were “in due and proper form.”
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Kerry says Israel responsible for peace talks crisis
2) Report: Israel ‘deeply disappointed’ by Kerry’s comments
3) Israel blames Kerry as peace talks hopes fade
4) Israeli Officials: No Chances that Talks Will Resume
5) Israel imposes economic sanctions on Palestinian Authority
6) Official: Israel to withhold Palestinian tax fees
7) Netanyahu orders cutback in contacts with Palestinian Authority
8) US calls Israel’s move to withhold PA funds ‘unfortunate’
9) Israel wants peace, but it won’t be Palestinians’ ‘sucker,’ Liberman says
10) Bayit Yehudi backs Bennett: We’ll quit coalition if Israeli-Arab terrorists freed
11) Palestinians: Israel exploiting peace talks crisis to make further demands
12) Palestinians want Russia, EU to change format of talks
13) Palestinian UN envoy: Boycott ‘illegal’ Israeli settlements
14) Arab League blames Israel for talks stalemate
15) Swiss, UN accept Palestinian requests to join international treaties
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