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
US Secretary of State John Kerry is still working to finalize a framework peace proposal expected to be presented to Israel and the Palestinians in the near future. Because the US framework will require both Israel and the Palestinians to make tough decision and make major compromises from their original positions, Kerry is suggesting that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders be permitted to “express reservations” regarding the US plan. However, the US framework proposal will be the basis for the continuation of peace talks. Kerry said that he believed that these conditions provide “the only way for Israel and the Palestinians to politically be able to keep the negotiations moving… For them as leaders to be able to embrace an endgame, they need to have the right to be able to have some objection.” In any peace deal, Kerry said: “Everybody understands that it’s going to take some period of time for a transition. That’s why it is phased,” he said. “What is critical, I think, is to give people a sense that there can be an end of the conflict and an end of claims and that there is a framework within which it is all contained.”
Because of the challenges to agree on the terms of a peace deal, US officials acknowledged that more time will needed past the original deadline of April 29 to reach a peace agreement. The US now views the April 29 date as “artificial” and suggested that even a framework agreement might need more time given some important gaps still remain. One of these gaps is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. In an interview with the New York Times, Abbas said that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is “out of the question”. Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, also rejected the idea of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. He also rejected the idea of Jordan being an alternative home for Palestinian Arabs. Judeh stressed that Jordan is not absent from the peace negotiations and will not accept any solution that contradicts with the country’s interests and national security. “Jordan will not negotiate on behalf of Palestinians regarding their envisioned state’s borders with Israel,” Judeh added. He reiterated Jordan’s stance which calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. This, he said, is a top Jordanian national interest. However, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state by the Palestinians is a precondition for a two-state solution. Netanyahu dismissed as “absurd” the notion that Israel would sign an agreement recognizing a nation-state for the Palestinian people without mutual recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews.
According to various reports, Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has offered to give the Palestinian Authority full control over 90% of the West Bank. However, the Palestinians want at least 97%. If Netanyahu’s offer would be accepted, it would mean that between 72,000 and 108,000 Jews would need to be expelled from their homes. When vacating the Gaza Strip in 2005, only 10,000 Jews were expelled from their homes. Under Netanyahu’s proposal, Israel would keep the major “settlement bloc” areas with a majority-Israeli population, including the Ariel bloc, Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim, and the towns of Beit El and Karnei Shomron along with surrounding communities. The Palestinians are demanding 97% of the West Bank, full control over eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, the release of all terrorist prisoners, the ability to arm the PA police, and implementation of the so-called “right of return,” which would give millions of descendants of Arabs who left pre-state Israel during the War of Independence the freedom to “return” to Israel.
At the moment, Kerry is pressuring Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas to submit in writing their views and reservations on the US positions he put before them in private, one-on-one conversations. He proposes to embody their comments in a non-binding paper to be the framework for further negotiations. That paper has two-against-one support in the top Israeli threesome of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Netanyahu accepts it as a basis for negotiations but wants changes with reference to Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and less clarity on the extent of swaps for the settlement blocs remaining on the West Bank in a Palestinian state as well as Jerusalem. These issues should be left vague according to Netanyahu. However, it is also being reported that Netanyahu promised senior officials in the Jewish Home political party that the US framework for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will not be allowed to become reality. A senior official from the Jewish Home political party said: “We made it clear that we will not stand by this [the US framework] and this was promised to us.” The Jewish Home political party has threatened to leave the government coalition in the event that Netanyahu agrees to accept an interim agreement that would require Israel give away land for a Palestinian state. When the US framework proposal has been revealed, Jewish Home political leader, Naftali Bennett said: “If this thing is not consistent with our principles, we won’t remain in the government. And if it is consistent with our principles, we’ll be [in the coalition] and we’ll strengthen the prime minister.” He said there are many questions with regard to how events will unfold after Kerry’s framework is made public. There is the issue of whether Netanyahu would say “yes to the framework [or] no to the framework,” said Bennett. Then, he asked, do ministers vote “yes to a cabinet decision [or] no to a cabinet decision?” He added the questions, would Netanyahu say “yes to a signature [or] no to a signature?” and “What is written on [the document]?” Only once he has the answer to all these questions, Bennett said, would he know how to proceed. “I have no objective to be in or out,” he said. “I think we are serving Israel exceptionally well in this government. It is a good government. The State of Israel was not created because of the Holocaust. It was created because of the Bible. Our role is to transform it into a real Jewish nation,” Bennett said. “Israel has been paying for decades for US’s policy mistakes in the Middle East – and that Israel should not have to pay any more for them. The US insisted on instituting elections for the Palestinians and they elected Hamas. The US insisted that Israel withdraw from Gaza, and in return we got tens of thousands of rockets on southern Israel, after democratically elected Hamas took over Gaza.”
Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urges full acceptance of the Kerry framework. He said: “there is a rhetoric battle for who is blunter, who is more litigious. Kerry is a true friend of Israel. I don’t see what is wise about taking friends and turning them into enemies.” Lieberman added: “I support an agreement but not at any price.” According to him, “the unity of the people is more important than the unity of the land.” He further added that “Kerry is leading the process correctly. Israel is conducting talks with the Americans and the Palestinians are also conducting the talks with the Americans. We are now talking about the principles so that we could later directly negotiate with the Palestinians without any mediators.” Lieberman reiterated that he supports a land swap in the framework of a future agreement with the Palestinians. Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon rejects the Kerry plan mostly because of security concerns.
Israel Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon criticized Kerry and the US framework peace plan by saying: “We cannot negotiate with the Palestinians when Secretary Kerry is pressuring Israel, threatening Israel, that we must sign the deal ‘today, now.’ That is not the way to support an ally. That is not the way to support Israel.” Danon further said: “Israel want to negotiate but we will not do it under the pressure coming from Secretary of State Kerry. Israel will not go back to the 1967 lines,” Danon emphasized. “We will not divide Jerusalem. I expect Prime Minister Netanyahu to tell Secretary Kerry – we appreciate your efforts, but we can not do what you expect us to do.” Regarding his efforts to push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Kerry said: “I’m not going to be intimidated and back down.”
Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians, rebuked her fellow ministers for comments criticizing US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to reach an agreement between the two sides. She said that some members of the governing coalition were opposed to any kind of peace agreement and that the recent verbal attacks on Kerry were “shocking.”
Meanwhile, a group of rabbis wrote in an open to letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry that through his current mediation efforts between Israel and Palestinian negotiators he had declared war against God. The rabbis warned that the secretary must cease such activities, to avoid divine punishment. The letter was sent by the Committee to Save the Land and People of Israel – an activist group opposed to any political accords with the Palestinians involving territorial concessions – founded by Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo, who also founded the Our Land of Israel party. The letter reads: “Your incessant efforts to expropriate integral parts of our Holy Land and hand them over to Abbas’s terrorist gang, amount to a declaration of war against the Creator and Ruler of the universe! For G-d awarded the entire Land of Israel to our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in order that they bequeath it, as an everlasting inheritance, to their descendants, the Jewish people, until the end of all time.” The rabbis argue that Kerry’s plan endangers Israeli Jews by bringing them within close range of potential rocket and missile fire from the West Bank should it be ceded by Israel to the Palestinians. “If you continue on this destructive path, you will ensure your everlasting disgrace in Jewish history for bringing calamity upon the Jewish people,” continued the rabbis, comparing Kerry to Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar II and Roman commander and future emperor Titus, the two enemies of the ancient Jewish kingdoms who destroyed the temples in Jerusalem and Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel along with them. “By the power of our Holy Torah, we admonish you to cease immediately all efforts to achieve these disastrous agreements – in order to avoid severe heavenly punishment for everyone involved,” they threatened. The letter was signed by Rabbi Wolpo, along with four other rabbis including Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the founder and chairman of the Temple Institute.
Regarding the issue of the Jordan Valley, Abbas said that he would agree to let Israeli troops remain in the Palestinian state for a transitional period of five years to work with Palestinian and Jordanian security forces and reassure the Israeli public that it is not going to get hit with thousands of rockets, as was the case after the “Disengagement” from Gaza. After the five-year transitional period, Abbas said that the Israeli forces could be replaced indefinitely by an American-led NATO force, with troops throughout the territory, at every crossing and within Arab eastern Jerusalem, along with Palestinian Arab police and security units. The NATO forces could stay “for a long time, and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders but also on the western borders, everywhere … For a long time, for the time they wish. NATO can be everywhere, why not?” said Abbas. Such a force, he said, “can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us. We will be demilitarized. … Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?” Abbas further said that he could not possibly accept a lengthy Israeli military presence in a sovereign Palestinian state, saying, “At the end of five years my country will be clean of occupation. The Israelis do not want the third party,” he said. “[Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert, welcomed this idea. However, Netanyahu told me directly, when we were in his house, ‘I cannot rely on anybody to protect my security except my army. …’ He doesn’t want to leave the borders to the Palestinians.
Jewish Home political party leader Naftali Bennett dismissed Abbas’s NATO idea, saying they would prove ineffective in a real crisis. Bennett said that Israel should learn from prior experience with international forces. “When everything’s quiet they’re there. The moment you need them they run away,” he quipped. “International forces will be the last thing to help us sleep in peace. The Israeli army alone will protect our children” he said. “To any other solution we say: No thanks.”
Abbas also emphasized that if talks fail, he would resort to what the Palestinians consider their foremost diplomatic asset: pursuing membership in international agencies and courts. Abbas said that he had been resisting pressure to join the United Nations agencies from the Palestinian street and leadership — including unanimous votes by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee and the central committee of his own Fatah Party — and that his staff had presented 63 applications ready for his signature.
US Secretary of State John Kerry recently threatened PA President Mahmoud Abbas that he would meet the same fate as his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, if he turned down the US proposal for peace with Israel according to Palestinian sources. Jamal Muhaissen, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank, said that if the report is true, “this shows that Israel assassinated Yasser Arafat after receiving a green light from the US administration. If true, Kerry’s threat paves the way for bringing him before the International Criminal Court for threatening the life of an elected Palestinian president,” Muhaissen said. Kerry’s proposals were met with shock and rejection by Abbas, he said. A Palestinian source said that Kerry’s proposals do not meet the minimum of Palestinian aspirations and Abbas’s promises to his people. “Abbas wants future generations to remember him as a hero who managed to achieve for his people what the largest Arab powers and parties failed to obtain in all their wars with Israel,” the source explained. As for the issue of the refugees, the source said, Kerry wants to establish an international fund for settling Palestinians in Australia and anywhere else they wish. Only a small number of refugees would be permitted to enter Israel in the context of “family reunion.”
In addition, US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Israel that a failure in the peace talks would lead to global boycotts of Israel. Last November, Kerry threatened that Israel would face a “Third Intifada” – or violent uprising – if talks did not end with a “Palestinian state” in the West Bank. A senior Palestinian negotiator said that Kerry is coordinating with the European Union regarding its boycott of Israeli settlements. Speaking at a security conference in Germany, Kerry seemed to warn that if negotiations to create a Palestinian state fail, Israel could face growing international boycotts. “You see for Israel there is an increasing deligitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it,” said Kerry. “There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that? The risks are very high for Israel,” Kerry continued. “People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure.” Israeli leaders took issue with Kerry’s statements and his failure to condemn what many here see as an anti-Semitic boycott. Israel Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel will not negotiate with “a gun pointed at its head,” especially regarding “matters which are most critical to our national interests. The things Kerry said are hurtful, they are unfair and they are intolerable,” Steinitz continued. Israeli Industry Minister Naftali Bennett said: “We expect of our friends in the world to stand by our side against the attempts to impose an anti-Semitic boycott on Israel and not to be their mouthpiece.”
In response, the US State Department issued a statement explaining that Kerry’s remarks were taken out of context, clarifying Kerry opposes boycotts against Israel. However, the senior Palestinian negotiator said that the US agreed to a ‘good cop, bad cop’ attitude. The negotiator further claimed that if Israel does not collaborate with Palestinian talks being brokered by Kerry, the EU financial sanctions could become tougher. The threat has been communicated to Israeli officials, according to the Palestinian negotiator. Possible further boycotts being considered, the negotiator stated, include an official statement from EU that settlements are illegal; a full financial boycott; and sanctions on all trade, universities and Jewish entities in the settlements. Another possibility is an EU dictate requiring special visas for settlers. On the other hand, if Israel goes along with Kerry’s peace plan, the EU will reconsider its future settlement boycott, the Palestinian negotiator stated.
In response, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Efforts to boycott Israel are neither moral nor justified.” Furthermore, he said that these efforts will not achieve their aims. “First of all, they cause the Palestinians to become entrenched behind their obstinate positions and push peace farther away, and secondly, no pressure will cause me to give up Israeli vital interests, first and foremost the security of Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said.
The Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a letter slamming the boycott threats against Israel from US Secretary of State John Kerry. The full text reads:
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We are writing to you at this moment with great respect for the exemplary and devoted efforts you are putting in to try to move peace forward between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
We have all witnessed the suffering and loss on all sides as the conflict continues year after year, decade after decade. We welcome your perseverance and optimism in trying to accomplish something that has eluded others time and again.
It is with this perspective in mind that we regretfully read of your comments this past weekend in Munich. In speaking about the price Israel will pay if the peace talks break down and Israel is blamed, you may have thought you were merely describing reality. But as the key player in the process, the impact of your comments was to create a reality of its own.
Describing the potential for expanded boycotts of Israel makes it more, not less, likely that the talks will not succeed; makes it more, not less, likely that Israel will be blamed if the talks fail; and more, not less, likely that boycotts will ensue. Your comments, irrespective of your intentions, will inevitably be seen by Palestinians and anti-Israel activists as an incentive not to reach an agreement; as an indicator that if things fall apart, Israel will be blamed; and as legitimizing boycott activity.
What is particularly troubling about your comments is the absence of similar tough talk about the consequences for Palestinians should the talks fail. We make this comment not in search of some theoretical balance. Rather, its absence suggests a historical amnesia about why there has been no peace and no solution all these years. Israel always must be willing to compromise for peace and at different times it is not unreasonable to ask Israel to do more.
But the core of the conflict was and remains Palestinian unwillingness to accept Israel’s legitimacy and permanence as a Jewish state. That is why the Palestinians rejected the 1947 partition, that is why they rejected recognizing Israel after the 1967 war, and that is why Israeli offers at Camp David in 2000 and Annapolis in 2008 were rejected or allowed to go unanswered. It is Palestinians who must hear the message that not only has their rejectionism been the major obstacle to peace, but it has also been the main source of their suffering and misery over the years. It is time for them to make the qualitative leap toward peace and acceptance of the legitimacy of the Jewish state.
It is encouraging that reportedly in the talks you are raising these matters with the Palestinians. Your comments in Munich, however, threaten to undo all this by ignoring the historic compulsion of the Palestinians to look for ever new reasons and incentives to reject the Jewish state. Concerns of the kind you expressed therefore would have been better left unsaid or at most discussed in private conversations with Israeli representatives.
We wish you continued success in moving this process forward. We urge you to understand, however, that those who are most against peace are the ones who will benefit the most from the unintended encouragement in the comments you expressed in Munich.
Abraham D. Foxman, ADL National Director.
In response to sharp Israeli criticism of US Secretary of State suggesting that there could be economic boycotts against Israel if peace talks fail, the US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “Secretary Kerry has a proud record of over three decades of steadfast support for Israel’s security and well-being, including staunch opposition to boycotts. Any rhetoric that is inaccurate and critical as this is is unhelpful,” she said. “These kind of attacks are unacceptable. They not only distort his record but they distract from the key issues at hand.”
Pope Francis plans to visit the Middle East in May. Apparently, the Pope plans to use his upcoming visit to Israel as a propaganda move for the Palestine Authority (PA) against Israel. The pope plans to have “mass” prayer services in the PA-controlled city of Bethlehem rather than in Jerusalem. The move is slightly ironic, as most Christians have reportedly been driven out of the city by Muslims, while Abbas has claimed “Jesus was Palestinian.”
In other news regarding the peace process, Israeli planners gave final approval for 558 new apartments in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1967 borders. A Jerusalem municipal spokesman issued a statement. “The municipality strongly opposes any effort to stifle the legitimate right of every resident to receive building permits and continue building in all neighborhoods of the city according to the master plan for Jew and Arabs as one, regardless of race, religion or gender.” Brachie Sprung, a municipality spokeswoman, said the building projects received initial approval a few years ago. European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton demanded that Israel take back its plan to build these homes. She said: “These plans endanger the chances of turning Jerusalem into the capital of two countries,” claimed Ashton, referencing the US plan to establish an Arab capital in Jerusalem. “I call on the government of Israel to weigh this step again, and take back its decision.” The US State Department also condemned the announcement to build more homes in Jerusalem by saying: “The US position on Jerusalem is clear. We oppose any unilateral actions by either party that attempt to prejudge final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “We’ve called on both sides to take steps to create a positive atmosphere for the negotiations.” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, called the moves a “deliberate provocation of the Palestinians to drive them to leave the negotiations.”
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) US expects delay on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Kerry framework rollout
2) Kerry: Netanyahu, Abbas can express objections to framework deal
3) So where does the US-Israeli-Palestinian peace process go from here?
4) Report: Netanyahu Willing to Concede 90% of Judea, Samaria
5) Report: Netanyahu Promised to Stop US Framework from Passing
6) Lieberman: Unity of people more important than unity of land
7) Danon: We Won’t Buckle Under Kerry’s Pressure
8.) ‘Kerry has declared a war on God,’ write hard-line rabbis in letter
9) Bennett: We will leave coalition if framework deal inconsistent with our principles
10) Abbas to NYT: NATO troops, not IDF, can remain in West Bank
11) Abbas Suggests NATO Presence in Palestinian State
12) Abbas: IDF can remain in future Palestine for 5 years
13) Jordan’s FM Rejects Recognizing Israel as Jewish State
14) Pope Coming To Israel As ‘Che Guevera of Palestinians’
15) Fatah wants Kerry prosecuted before ICC for ‘threatening’ Abbas
16) John Kerry Threatens Israel With Boycotts if Talks Fail
17) Kerry ‘coordinating boycott blackmail against Israel’
18) Boycott of Israel ‘amoral, unjustified,’ Netanyahu says
19) ADL To Kerry: ‘Your Threats Destroy Peace Talks’
20) Livni blasts Israeli ministers for comments on Kerry
21) Kerry rebuffs criticism over ‘boycott’ comment
22) Kerry: I won’t be intimidated by Israeli attacks against me
23) US: Israeli attacks on Kerry ‘show the heat is on’
24) Israel issues 558 permits for East Jerusalem housing
25) Ashton: ‘For PA Capital Cancel Jerusalem Building’
26) US condemns east Jerusalem building plan as Kerry downplays Israeli critics
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