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 / Palestinian peace process
Recently, PLO leaders called on the Palestinian Authority to halt all forms of security coordination with Israel. The decision was issued at the end of a meeting of the PLO’s 124-member Central Council, which consists of representatives from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and several Arab countries. The discussions covered the future of relations between the PA and Israel in light of the Israeli government’s decision to withhold tax revenue because of Palestinian intention to bring war crime accusations against Israel at the United Nations through the International Criminal Court. Under a 1994 economic accord, Israel agreed to transfer tens of millions of dollars each month to the PA in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports. Several PLO representatives demanded that the PA leadership give a very “harsh” response to the Israeli decision such as cutting political, economic and security ties with Israel. Others called for abrogating all agreements signed with Israel.
A statement issued by the council said that the PLO leaders have decided to “halt all forms of security coordination with Israeli occupation in light of its failure to abide by agreements signed between the two sides.” Israel should assume all its responsibilities toward the Palestinians as an “occupation force” and in accordance with international law, the council said. The council also reiterated Palestinian opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. However, a Palestinian source said that the council’s decision was a recommendation only. Another Palestinian official said that Abbas must issue a presidential order in order to formally end the security cooperation with Israel. Israeli officials said that despite the Palestinian decision ties with the Palestinian Authority remain unchanged and that civil and defense cooperation continue unimpeded.
US Secretary of State John Kerry pleaded with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to make any “fateful decisions” regarding Israel before its upcoming election on March 17. It is reported that Kerry pressured Abbas to refrain from making any decision that could negatively impact efforts to revive the peace negotiations after the election. In addition, Kerry expressed his opposition to the Israeli decision to withhold the tax funds and cut off electricity to Palestinian cities because of the PA’s debt to the Israel Electric Corporation. Kerry promised Abbas that the United States would pressure Israel to unfreeze the tax payments. In return, Kerry demanded that the PLO Central Council refrain from making any decision to cancel political, security and economic agreements with Israel.
During his second term as prime minister (2009 – 2013), Benjamin Netanyahu had his senior aide, lawyer Yitzhak Molcho be involved in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. In a document from August 2013 entitled, “Draft Proposal for Statement of Principles Towards a Permanent Arrangement” outlines drastic concessions to the Palestinian leadership on a number of core issues, including land swaps, a potential deal regarding Jerusalem and even a limited right of return for Palestinians. The document was meant to serve as basis for official talks launched at the time between Israel and the Palestinians under the auspices of US Secretary of State John Kerry. The document mentions a return to the pre-1967 borders with agreed land swaps. It says: “… (T)here will be a full Israeli withdrawal implemented gradually of Israeli forces from Palestine’s territory. The last of the Israeli forces will withdraw with the implementation of the agreement’s final stage.”
The document desires that Israel be willing to trade land with the Palestinians, but was willing to offer them full restitution for lands seized by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, implicitly accepting the Palestinian claim on the entirety of the West Bank as land for a future Palestinian state. It says: “The sides are in agreement that Palestine will be an independent, sovereign and viable state whose size will be in relation to the areas which were under Jordan and Egypt’s control before June 4th 1967 (the eve of the Six Day War) (…) the agreement establishing the formation of Palestine will permanently resolve all claims, including the issue of settlements,” the document read.
As part of the proposed land swap, the document laid out the framework for uprooting a a large number of West Bank settlements and even stipulated leaving some settlers in the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control. It says: “Israelis who will choose to remain in the Palestinian state will live under Palestinian jurisprudence,” the document said.
Regarding Jerusalem which the Palestinians want as their capital, the document’s wording was more careful, but not devoid of significance, offering an implicit recognition of the Palestinians’ claim on East Jerusalem. The document relating to Jerusalem was vaguely worded and appended with a warning: “Any solution must address the historical, social, cultural and effectual ties of both peoples to the city and offer protection to the holy sites.”
Furthermore, the document said the Palestinians were offered a permanent foothold in the Jordan Valley, an area which Israel was reluctant to concede control over during the previous round of peace talks. The document also calls for Israeli leeway regarding the much-debated Palestinian right of return for those displaced on the eve of Israel’s formation in 1948. The document calls for Israel to offer the Palestinian ‘refugees’ the right of return on a personal – as opposed to national – basis.
In releasing the details of this document, it was reported that Netanyahu agreed to the various details of the document. However, in response to the report, Netanyahu’s office said: “At no point did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree to withdraw to 1967-lines, divide Jerusalem or recognize the Palestinian right of return. That was and remains his position.” Israel said that the document was an American proposal to resolve the Israel / Palestinian conflict in which Israel never agreed to the points of discussion. Israel said, “Molcho’s talks were brokered by the Americans and failed to yield any agreements. (The talks) focused on an attempt to create an American proposal to moving negotiations forward with each side maintaining the right to express reservations from any of the articles which they deem unacceptable.”
Furthermore, giving his own response to the published document, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that he never signed off on the concessions detailed in the document saying, “I have never agreed to divide Jerusalem, never agreed to return to the ’67 lines, never agreed to acknowledge the right of return, never agreed to concede our presences in the Jordan Valley, never,” he said. “This is nonsense. This is an attempt to obtain an American draft that I said from the beginning I would oppose clauses that were not acceptable to me, like these clauses. The reality is that no prime minister insisted as I did on a united Jerusalem, on construction, on settlement.”
Dennis Ross, the American diplomat who mediated the talks between Israeli negotiator Isaac Molho and the Palestinians said that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “never agreed to Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem or the right of return.” Furthermore, Ross said: “I always felt the best way to [negotiate] would be in a brainstorming set of discussions that could be informal. To that end, starting before I left the administration and continuing after I left, I worked with two long-time friends of mine, Isaac Molho and Hussein Agha, with the aim of coming up with a U.S. proposal for a framework. The idea was that both sides would agree to negotiate using the U.S. proposal, while making clear that they had reservations about provisions that ran counter to their positions … to my regret the exercise did not succeed,” Ross added.
In 2009, Netanyahu made a speech expressing his support for a demilitarized Palestinian state. Today, he said that this position is “Simply irrelevant” saying, “In the situation created in the Middle East, any territory that will be evacuated will be taken over by radical Islam and terrorist organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will not be any withdrawals or concessions. The matter is simply irrelevant,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ron Dermer, who was Netanyahu’s aide at the time of his 2009 speech and now serves as Israel’s ambassador to the US, reportedly promised Quartet leader Tony Blair who represented the EU, UN, Russia and the United States as mediators in the peace process that Israel would agree to a Palestinian state based upon the 1967 borders. The comments were made sometime during Netanyahu’s 2009-2013 term as prime minister and were published by Israel’s Channel 10. Israel’s Channel 10 claimed that Dermer promised Quartet leader Tony Blair, in writing, that Israel would cede territory that would give the Palestinians a state “identical to the areas Israel captured in 1967.” According to the report, Blair was skeptical about Netanyahu’s willingness to cede territory as part of a peace deal, prompting Dermer to commit in writing in a bid to quell his concerns and prove Netanyahu was serious.
In response, Dermer vehemently denied the report, saying that “in complete contradiction to what is being reported, no commitment was given to any type of withdrawal at any point.” According to him, the paper was an “attempt to move forward with negotiations based on the international community’s principles with Israel retaining the right to disavow any article it is uncomfortable with.”
Israel’s former chief negotiator in the peace process, Tzipi Livni called Netanyahu’s response to a document claiming that he agreed in 2013 to establish a Palestinian state based upon the 1967 borders as “cowardly.” She said, “When I see Netanyahu’s cowardly response, I understand why the Palestinians and Americans say they don’t believe him.” Livni also had criticism towards the Palestinian leadership. She said, “Sometimes, your partner is not much, and I have criticism against (Palestinian President) Abbas, who didn’t respond to the American outline.”
Meanwhile, Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz criticized the publication of the document, saying it was a “manipulation,” and “fabricated in the way it was presented,” noting neither Netanyahu nor Molcho agreed to the principles outlined. He said that the publication of this document was politically motivated to harm Netanyahu prior to the March 17 Israeli elections. He said, “The objective is to move votes from the Likud party to the religious Zionist nationalistic Jewish Home party as well as the ultra-Orthodox Shas party in order to help the Zionist camp party headed by Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog’s to win the March 17th elections.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration says that U.S. President Barack Obama wants to make a renewed effort to achieve progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process following the March 17 Israeli elections. The final decision on how to move forward, what sort of effort to make and when, will only be made after a new Israeli government has been formed. A senior Obama official said, “The United States would like to see the formation of the new government in Israel and its attitude toward the renewing peace talks. But in the year and a half to two years that Obama has left in the White House prior to the November, 2016 US elections, the United States will have to deal with the peace process because time is working against us.”
Further deterioration in ties between the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership in recent months has senior administration officials very worried. The United States sees the situation as a growing crisis beginning with the blowup of the peace talks in March of last year, the deep diplomatic freeze, the war in Gaza last summer, the resolution that the Palestinians tried (unsuccessfully) to get through the UN Security Council, the Palestinians’ signing of the Rome Statute and joining of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and the Israeli response of freezing the transfer of Palestinian tax funds. To all of these must be added the Palestinian Authority’s threats to file more complaints against Israel in the International Criminal Court beginning April 1, when its membership in the court becomes official, and the serious economic consequences in the PA as a result of Israel’s freezing of Palestinian tax payments takes a deeper toll on the Palestinian economy.
A senior White House official said the Obama administration is concerned over an economic collapse of the PA, which could happen within a few months if Israel does not release the tax money to the Palestinians. Such a collapse, the Americans believe, could lead to security chaos and even a violent outbreak. The senior official said, “The United States wants to find the right timing to go for another push and try and promote something on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.” The United States decision to take action will depend on the makeup and policy of the new Israeli government. The United States would prefer that there be a renewing of peace negotiations on a permanent status agreement. However, the Obama administration is aware that in view of the seriousness of the crisis in the peace process, this may not be very realistic.
As a result, the United Status is discussing various diplomatic moves to unfreeze the talks. One idea that has come up repeatedly in administration discussions over the past year is to present to the international community an updated American outline for a solution to the conflict. Such an outline could include the principles of the framework agreement that Kerry, Israel and the PA worked on at the end of 2013 and early 2014. The discussed framework agreement included clauses such as negotiations based on the 1967 borders with exchanges of territory, recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, Jerusalem as the capital of both states, security arrangements for Israel in the Jordan Valley and a timetable for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank.
The original US intention was to publish the agreement and invite the Israeli and Palestinian teams to the United States to negotiate based on the document’s principles. Under this scenario, Abbas and Netanyahu would have had to decide to accept the US invitation to discuss the ideas of a US framework agreement or stay home. After long discussions about this approach, Kerry decided not to publish an outline of a US framework proposal, in the hope that he would be able to persuade Netanyahu and Abbas to extend talks without an American ultimatum. A former member of the American peace team said he believes that today Kerry regrets that decision.
Another possibility for an American initiative after the Israeli elections is to promote a UN Security Council resolution based on the American framework agreement, set principles for resolution of the conflict, and call for a renewal of talks. In this way, even if peace talks do not resume, a new source of international authority will have been determined for resolving the conflict that would not be based on Resolutions 242 and 338, on which talks have been based for the past 40 years.
Last September and October, when the Palestinians and Jordanians as well as the French were promoting two separate resolutions to set principles for resolving the conflict, the Obama administration considered formulating an American resolution. This resolution, in the view of the United States, would have been more balanced and the fact that the United States would have led it would have assured its passage at the US Security Council. In the end, under pressure from then-Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and former President Shimon Peres, who feared that such a move at the end of 2014 would strengthen Netanyahu in upcoming March 17th Israeli elections, the Americans did not propose a resolution. Once again, today both Kerry and Livni are said to regret not doing so.
In conclusion, depending upon the outcome of the March 17th Israeli elections and the formation of the new Israeli government, the United States will decide whether it should propose an outline of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians which could be submitted for approval at the UN Security Council. If this scenario does happen, it could be the fulfillment of the prophecy that the nations will divide the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem through formal recognition of a PLO state based upon 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) PLO leaders recommend that Palestinian Authority halt security coordination with Israel
2) Palestinian sources: Kerry pressing Abbas to hold off on anti-Israel measures before election
3) ‘Abbas won’t cut security ties with Israel before elections’
4) Netanyahu’s secret peace offer concessions to Palestinians revealed
5) ‘Netanyahu never agreed to ’67 borders or division of Jerusalem’
6) Netanyahu says his past support for Palestinian state ‘simply irrelevant’
7) Netanyahu says Israel won’t cede land to Palestinians, despite reports, docs claiming otherwise
8) Livni: PM’s response to document shows why US, Palestinians don’t trust him
9) Obama aims for another Mideast peace push by end of term, White House officials say
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