You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) A Preview of the Israel Elections
2) The current status of the Israel / PLO peace process
3) The current status of the situation with Iran
Israeli elections are scheduled for January 22. All the polls indicate that Benjamin Netanyahu will keep his job as Prime Minister of Israel. The main issue of debate therefore is will he establish a center-left (secular Zionist) government or will he establish a center-right (nationalist Zionist) government ? Conventional wisdom is that Netanyahu will choose his historical “natural partners” from the center-right. However, some members of his Likud political party are saying that Netanyahu prefers to form a coalition with the center-left parties rather than the nationalistic party of Jewish Home and Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party of Shas. Senior Likud minister Moshe Ya’alon said the new government would look to create as large a coalition as possible. “It is 99 percent certain Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Tzipi [Livnit] (The Movement), and Mofaz (Kadima) are [on Netanyahu's list],” the Likud source said. Only after exploring those options would Netanyahu approach either the ultra-Orthodox or the national religious Jewish Home party.
However, another senior Likud official said that Netanyahu prefers to keep (Jewish Home) out of the coalition. The official, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Netanyahu has indicated in private conversations he would prefer to form a coalition with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (Future) party, Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua and even with the Labor party headed by Shelly Yechimovich, though she has publicly stated she would not join a Netanyahu-led government. According to this official, “Netanyahu fears a strong Bennett”, referring to Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, because his party will make it difficult for him to make diplomatic moves in terms of peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Other Likud insiders were quoted as saying that Netanyahu is expected to redefine his “natural partners” after the upcoming election, shifting from a nationalist government (center-right) to a more leftist one (center-left). One of many concerns of the newly elected government is to pass a national spending budget to implement his economic policies. Netanyahu is expected to make cuts in the budget. This is not seen as being agreeable to the Ultra-Orthodox parties. A Israeli newspaper quoted senior Likud members as saying that because of a need to focus on issues such as the economy and due to pressure that is expected to come from U.S. President Barack Obama in regards to the peace process, Netanyahu is expected to shift his coalition more towards the center-left in an effort to build as broad a coalition as possible.
In response to these things, the leaders of Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid), The Tzipi Livni Party, and Jewish Home (Naphtali Bennett) all called for a national unity government (a government with a combination of center-left and center-right). “I am a responsible person,” said Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid. “We can build a national unity government oriented toward economic and social issues – one which is not right-wing extremist and haredi.” Lapid continued: “I guarantee that if there won’t be equality in the burden of IDF service, and if there will be higher taxes, we will not sit in the Knesset. If they sell us out, we won’t be in government.” Tzipi Livni agreed on the need for unity, saying “We require a national emergency government.” Earlier in the day, Livni warned that Israel is in a “state of emergency” and promised to work toward a national unity government that would be Centrist and [secular] Zionist in its orientation.
Therefore, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni were highlighting the election issues of: 1) Israel / Palestinian peace process 2) Socio-economic issues 3) The role of ultra-orthodox men serving in the Israeli military.
Jewish Home leader Nephtali Bennett also called for a national unity government which included Yair Lapid for economic reasons but not Tzipi Livni who strongly advocates a need for a peace agreement with the Palestinians which Jewish Home opposes. “I am against a Palestinian state,” said Bennett. “The land of Israel has been ours for 3,800 years.”
Last month, Jewish Home leader Naphtali Bennett called for Israel to annex Area C which is under complete Israeli control from the Oslo Accords signed in the 1990′s by Israel and the Palestinians. All the Jews in the West Bank live in Area C while only 4% of Palestinians live in Area C. However, Rabbi Shai Piron, number two on the Yesh Atid party list of Yair Lapid and serves as head of the Petach Tikva Yeshiva Institutions [which is modern Orthodox) said that he would support uprooting Israeli communities in the West Bank if Israel reached a diplomatic deal with the Palestinian Authority. He also called the plan by Naftali Bennett of Jewish Home as being "delusional".
Tzipi Livni said that she would consider joining a coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only if Netanyahu were to truly commit to advancing the diplomatic process with the Palestinians and if his government did not implement the diplomatic platform of Jewish Home whose calls for annexing Area C in the West Bank and giving the 50,000 Palestinians living there full Israeli citizenship.
Meanwhile, the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox Shas party accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of having already forged a coalition deal with two center-left parties, Tzipi Livni’s (The Movement) and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.
In an interview with Benjamin Netanyahu conducted by the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu explained his position on these issues. He was asked the following:
QUESTION: You know Bennett very well – you worked with him. In your mind, is he an extremist?
NETANYAHU: I’m not rating anyone, and I am not disqualifying anyone. But I think it’s important for people to realize that the only way we can lead the country is to have a very strong ruling party… You need a prime minister that can focus on the main issues, and that can’t be done if you have to attend the needs of sectorial parties...
QUESTION: What is your dream coalition?
NETANYAHU: The dream coalition is the one with the broadest possible Likud Beytenu chassis, if you will. Because that is really what determines what drives stability and effectiveness...
If we go the other direction, of fragmentation and sectorial parties, you’re going to have an ineffective government. I know that people say, ‘We’ll strengthen Netanyahu from the Right, we’ll strengthen Netanyahu from the religious side, we’ll strengthen Netanyahu from that side.’ We want our hands on the wheel. If you ever drove a car, you know that you have to have two steady hands of one driver on the wheel, and if you start having other people grab the wheel, pretty soon the car overturns.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) An Israeli Election Preview by Eddie Chumney (15 minutes)
2) Prime minister eyeing deal with center-left, insiders say
3) Likud Official: Netanyahu Prefers Lapid
4) Lapid, Livni, Bennett call for national unity gov't
5) On the Agenda: Annex Area C, Says Jewish Home's Bennett
6) Rabbi on Lapid’s List: I’d Uproot ‘Settlements’
7) Report: Rabbi Shai Piron Second on Lapid List
8) Yesh Atid's Rabbi Piron: Bennett's Annexation Plan 'Delusional'
9) Shas: Netanyahu in cahoots with center-left
In a Bloomberg article, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg seemed to have written an article expressing the feelings of the Obama administration regarding the peace process. The short term background to understanding these issues as explained in the article is as follows:
Shortly after the United Nations General Assembly voted in late November to upgrade the status of the Palestinians, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that it would advance plans to establish a settlement in an area of the West Bank known as E-1, and that it would build 3,000 additional housing units in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The world reacted to the E-1 announcement with strong criticism. The Obama administration response came from Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, who said the following: "We believe these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations or achieve a two-state solution."
In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.” With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total [international] isolation. In mostly likely expressing the view of the Obama administration, Goldberg commented by saying, “When such an issue arises again, Israel may find itself even lonelier. It wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. failed to whip votes the next time, or if the U.S. actually abstained. I wouldn’t be particularly surprised, either, if Obama eventually offered a public vision of what a state of Palestine should look like, and affirmed that it should have its capital in East Jerusalem.”
Israel responded to the Jeffrey Goldberg article by announcing that it will build over 200 new Jewish homes in the West Bank. Tzipi Livni condemned the Israeli plans by saying, “Netanyahu is destroying Israel’s international relations and is sacrificing national interests for political considerations right before an election.”
Meanwhile, on December 4, a Palestinian official announced that Britain and France are working on a new Mideast peace plan. In the past week, this was confirmed through an Israeli newspaper who wrote that the European Union is working on a detailed plan meant to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and establish an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital. The plan will set a clear timetable for a discussion on all core issues over the course of 2013. It will likely be presented in March after a new Israeli government is formed.
According to the plan, Israel and the Palestinians will enter peace negotiations after a brief interval. The plan will likely also include a demand to freeze settlement construction. The initiative is promoted by the British and French foreign ministers, and has the support of Germany. Efforts are being made to internationalize the plan: The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton is examining the possibility of making the plan an all-European proposal. Similar efforts have been made in a Quartet meeting in Amman, Jordan, where the EU’s representatives have asked to discuss their proposed peace plan. However, the US requested to delay the discussion until after the Israeli elections and the Obama inauguration.
Several reports revealed that the plan will also include a basis for a regional Middle Eastern committee with the participation of Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states. Such a committee will marginalize Israel, but a refusal to join it will be perceived as a general rejection of the peace process. The Palestinians have already said they will accept the invitation if issued.
“There is great movement behind the scenes,” a senior Israeli official said. “The Europeans can’t force Israel to enter into an agreement, but they can certainly put us in an awkward position. “They are drafting a document which will present the principles of the future peace accord, putting it on the table as a challenge. It is likely the Palestinians will accept it and that Israel will have some difficulty. It will drive us into the corner.”
Tzipi Livni commented on the plan saying: “In March the world will present us with a peace plan – either it will be forced upon us or we come up with our own plan.
“If we form an Israeli plan we could renew the alliance with the region’s moderates and will be able to better deal with the extremist front. It is therefore important to have a government which promotes a real peace process.”
Meanwhile the Palestinians are trying to initiate a special UN Security Council meeting on January 23, a day after the Israeli elections, to discuss settlement construction and particularly Israel’s area E1 construction plan.
French Presiden Hollande announced that “immediately after the Israeli elections you should expect a French-brokered peace initiative in the Middle East, in order to bring Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table.” Hollande said he hopes that an agreement to return to the negotiation table will come as early as March.
The British foreign secretary warned of the dire consequences of letting the current turmoil in the Middle East continue unabated Thursday, calling on the US to lead a renewed drive for peace of the type not seen in decades.
Hague said US President Barack Obama should take charge and launch an intense drive for peace matching that of the last major Israeli Palestinian breakthrough which brought about the 1993 Oslo Accords.
“Before long, a two-state solution could be made impossible by facts on the ground,” Hague said. “We recognize the immense obstacles to the peace process, not least of all the role of Hamas in Gaza. But still, we believe that it must be a priority for President Obama’s re-elected administration to launch a new effort to start the peace process, greater in intensity than anything seen since the Oslo Accords.”
Furthermore, Jordan is in the process of consolidating an international coalition to kick-start the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Jordan’s King Abdullah said in an interview with French publication:
“We are working closely with several parties in Europe, including France, to put some effective and workable ideas on the table that would enable the US to engage and play a leading role in the peace process soon after the start of the second term of President [Barack] Obama.” Abdullah expressed hope that Germany, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE would participate in the efforts.
Israel Radio reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah believes that peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will resume in February. Jordan is also reported to be hosting a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian representatives next month in efforts to advance the peace process.
In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his view on these developments:
QUESTION: King Abdullah gave an interview yesterday in which he said that after the election, the Europeans will come with a new initiative. Do you know anything about that? Do you plan to put anything of your own on the table?
NETANYAHU: I’m sure there will be many initiatives, and certainly we’ll have an important task in trying to tell the truth to the world: that the Palestinian problem is neither the core of the instability in the Middle East (people actually believed that until the Arab Spring; I think they’re a little wiser now), nor that the question of settlements is the core of the Palestinian-Israel conflict. The core of the conflict is the persistent refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary.
QUESTION: Can Israel withstand the pressure on the settlements? Can we build in east Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim with the Europeans saying, ‘If you do we might boycott you’?
NETANYAHU: I think that many recognize that while there are differences inside Israel, there is a common acceptance that the so-called settlement blocs will remain part of Israel in any settlement, and that’s where the majority of construction is taking place.
QUESTION: But the Europeans are not saying that.
NETANYAHU: Some of them are not saying that, it’s true. But I think that there is recognition that ultimately there has to be a real and fair solution, and that certainly doesn’t include driving out hundreds of thousands of Jews who live in the suburbs of Jerusalem, and in the suburbs of Tel Aviv in the Ariel bloc. I think that is unrealistic.
There is an attempt to escape this simple reality, and we will have to get the world to focus on the real issues, the real problem – and to resist attempts to impose a solution that would deprive Israel of its security and fundamental national interest. A peace that you can’t defend will not exist; will not last for a second.
QUESTION: President Shimon Peres says PA President Abbas is a real potential peace partner, while former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman says he’s not. Where do you stand?
NETANYAHU: Well, so far he hasn’t been because he’s avoided negotiations. He’s run away from negotiations for the last four years. He’s piled on precondition upon precondition.
He went to the UN for a unilateral resolution, which is a fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords. He embraced Hamas. If he changes that and comes back to the table without preconditions, he’ll find me there, if I’m elected prime minister.
QUESTION: Would you consider alternative ideas to the two-state solution?
NETANYAHU: I don’t think it is a good idea for the Jewish state [for the Palestinians to be incorporated as citizens of Israel]. On the other hand, I don’t shut my eyes, the way some suggest, and say ‘Let’s just get out and sign a treaty – that will protect us.’ No, peace treaties don’t protect us; security protects us. And what protects us is the ability to understand that you need two things: You need a change in the Palestinian attitude toward the Jewish state so they recognize that if they want a Palestinian state, they will have to accept the idea of a Jewish state as the nation state of the Jewish people and to end the conflict with us once and for all. And the second thing is to recognize that even if the [Palestinian] leadership accepts that [a Jewish state and end to conflict], you can’t be guaranteed that this will take root in the general public. They will have to change the way they educate their children, and the national propaganda that they spew forth in their state-controlled press.
Equally, even if that happens, you have to assure yourself against the possibility that there will be a change of regime or change of policy in the Palestinian areas. And that is why you need very, very solid security arrangements that protect Israel. These are measures that were not present in Gaza. We walked out and Hamas walked in, which means Iran walked in. I’m not going to have that replicated.
There are two positions that I think are important. We don’t want a binational state, we don’t want to govern the Palestinians. But at the same time, we don’t want them to govern us or threaten our existence by irresponsible agreements that are made without a realistic appreciation of the Islamist tide that is sweeping the region and the speed in which Israel can move from relative strength to great vulnerability because we didn’t take care of our vital security needs – because we trusted a peace of paper. That’s not where I’ve been and that’s not where I’m going to be.
Finally, Hamas and Fatah agreed to implement, by the end of January, previous reconciliation agreements signed between the two parties. Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah delegation to the talks, announced that the two parties agreed, among other things, to launch consultations over the formation of a Palestinian unity government, with the hope of reaching agreement within the next two weeks.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) Obama: ‘Israel Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’
2) Israel advances settlement plans after alleged Obama rebuke
3) Europe mulls new Mideast peace plan: Palestinian official
4) EU working on new Mideast peace plan
5) France Calls for Renewed Peace Talks Immediately After Elections
6) France to initiate Middle East peace plan
7) London warns of ‘perfect Mideast storm,’ calls for intense peace push
8) Jordan forming int’l bloc to spur Israeli-Palestinian talks
9) Will there be a peace push after the elections?
10) PM: Obama and I do have our differences on peace process
11) Hamas, Fatah agree to implement unity agreement
UN nuclear inspectors and Iran failed in talks to finalize a deal to resume their long-stalled talks into ending the Iranian nuclar program. The UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran have scheduled another meeting for February 12.
In an interview with Rick Wiles, former CIA spy, Reza Kahlili believes from his sources that Iran already has the capability to produce a nuclear bomb. He said that they also are capable of conducting biochemical warfare on US soil.
The link to these articles is as follows:
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