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We are your hands blessing the Jewish people

Friday, January 20, 2017

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Every week, we post from seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Paris Peace Conference: The Day After

by Ilse Posselt

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Part of the group of world leaders who met in Paris on January 15, 2017.

Monday, 16 January 2017 | The Israeli media calls it “much ado about nothing.” Israeli lawmakers hailed it as “useless” and as “flat as a failed soufflé.” And international news raised questions as to its “ultimate worth.”

Yesterday, high-level representatives from more than 70 countries gathered in the French capital for the much-anticipated Paris Peace Conference aimed at kick-starting the floundering peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The two parties under discussion—Israel and the Palestinians—were, however, conspicuously absent from the talks geared at mapping out their future.

When the conference drew to a close yesterday afternoon, participants issued a final statement on the day’s discussion. Yet, instead of outlining a clear strategy or specific steps for a way forward, the statement largely offered a repetition of messages expressed by various forums and individuals on a number of past occasions.

The gist of the message is that the only way to attain a lasting peace is through a two-state solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. The statement further condemned incitement and “terror” and urged both parties to cease from all violence. It also called on the Jewish state to halt all construction in Judea and Samaria, including east Jerusalem.

“The two-state solution is still the objective of the international community for the future,” said French President, Francois Hollande. “With this conference I wanted to inscribe the two-state solution on the international agenda.”

According to Hollande, the only route to achieving such a two-state solution was through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. “We do not want to impose any solutions,” he vowed. “It is not a question of dictating to the parties. Only direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can lead to peace. No one will do it in their place.”

The French president’s statement regarding third-party interference came as a bit of a contradiction. Ever since France announced its intentions early in 2016 to host a peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the main concern offered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is that a solution imposed from the outside never works and that a lasting peace arrangement will only come about as a result of bilateral negotiations without preconditions. In fact, Netanyahu told French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, as early as May 2016 that “peace just does not get achieved through international conferences, UN-style. It does not get to fruition through international diktats or committees from countries around the world who are sitting and seeking to decide our fate and our security when they have no direct stake in it.”

As the conference convened yesterday in Paris, Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that the summit was “useless” and that it harmed the prospect of peace as it decreases the chances of the Palestinians coming to the negotiation table for direct talks without preconditions.

In what appears to be a reference to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, Netanyahu hailed the Paris parley as the “final palpitations of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow will look a lot different, and tomorrow is very close.”

Concern within Israeli circles over the Paris conference grew sharply over the past month. On December 23, 2016, America did not exercise its veto power at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and allowed Resolution 2334 to pass, thus failing to protect Israel. The resolution condemns all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, including those in east Jerusalem and the Old City, as a gross violation of international law and a major stumbling block to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Then, days later, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, delivered an address in which he proposed six principles for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, including proposed borders, and decried Israel’s “pernicious policy of settlement construction that is making peace impossible.”

Following these two incidents, Israel considered the threat that the Obama administration might use the Paris conference as a platform to determine and secure its own ideas for borders between Israel and the Palestinians. Speculations surfaced that Kerry might present America’s plan for a two-state solution—including borders—at the conference. Should the proposal be adopted, it could serve as the framework for yet another anti-Israel resolution to be tabled at the UNSC meeting scheduled for January 17, 2017, two days after the Paris parley.

Now, with the conference something of the past, the Jewish state and those around the world standing with Israel are breathing a sigh of relief. Israeli media reports that the statement emanating from the day’s discussion is “rather bland” and “less harsh” than a draft released during the “opening summit” held on June 3, 2016. In fact, some of the pro-Palestinian language evident in the earlier draft has been removed from yesterday’s copy.

Yet while the conference did not make any scathing rebuke or issue outright anti-Semitic rhetoric against the Jewish state, the final statement did, however, endorse the adoption of the UNSC’s Resolution 2334 as well as the six principles Kerry presented in his December 28 address.

In his address, Kerry specifically suggested the 1948 armistice line with “mutually agreed equivalent swaps” of land as the borders between the prospective Israeli and Palestinian states. The line refers to Israel’s borders before the Six Day War in 1967, when Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria, including east Jerusalem and the Old City. Kerry also called for east Jerusalem as the capital for the future Palestinian state.

While the overwhelming majority of participating nations gave the statement their nod of approval, Britain spoke out in criticism and refused to sign the joint statement. According to a Foreign Office spokesman, London expressed “particular reservations” about the absence of both Israeli and Palestinian representatives as well as the fact that the conference took place against Israel’s wishes and “just days before the transition to a new American president when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement.”

Moreover, the British believe that the parley might do more harm than good. “There are risks, therefore, that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace.”

Israeli and British lawmakers were, however, not the only ones to stand in opposition of the weekend’s conference. In the run-up to the confab, Christians from around the globe united in prayer and support behind Israel. “Christians cannot let Israel stand alone against the nations,” said Reverend Cheryl Hauer, International Development Director of Bridges for Peace, last week. “As those who call upon the name of the Lord, we have been set apart as watchmen on the wall for Jerusalem, as those who would fight for Israel in the heavenly realms. As Israel faces the wrath of the nations, it is critical that Christians unite in prayer, calling upon the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to deliver His people from this evil attempt to destroy them.”

“Pray as often as possible and with great diligence between now and Sunday evening,” urged Hauer. “Join with us and a powerful global army of believers as we storm the gates of heaven, trusting our God to deliver His people once again.”

Even with the Paris Peace Conference over, the need for prayer remains. Tomorrow the UNSC will meet once again in New York, and the agenda for the get-together is said to include yet more anti-Israel resolutions. Following the US’s failure to veto such a resolution during the last UNSC meeting and outgoing American President, Barack Obama and with Kerry in the driver’s seat, Israel is not resting easy as yet.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 16 January 2017

Photo Credit: US State Department (public domain)

Prayer Focus
Offer praise and thanksgiving for the Lord’s answer to the global intercession of His people—He caused the potentially damaging “peace” conference to come to nothing. Continue to pray that the world’s plans to harm Israel will not succeed.

Scripture

Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones.


- Psalm 83:1–3

US United Nations Ambassador Nominee: UN’s Bias Against Israel is “Outrageous”

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Nikki Haley, nominee for UN ambassador

Thursday,19 January 2017 | At her confirmation hearing to serve as US ambassador to the United Nations, Gov. Nikki Haley (R – S.C.), condemned the organization’s “outrageous bias against our close ally Israel.”

While Haley acknowledged that “international diplomacy is a new area for me,” she also said that her service as governor gave her the ability “to unite those with different backgrounds, viewpoints and objectives behind a common purpose.” Saying that the UN “could benefit from a fresh set of eyes,” she promised to “bring a firm message to the UN that U.S. leadership is essential in the world.”

Haley also conceded that while some UN programs have been successful, she stated that “any honest assessment also finds an institution that is often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers.”

This was especially true given the UN’s animosity towards the Jewish state, Haley stated. She backed up her charge with numbers: In the recently concluded General Assembly session, “the UN adopted twenty resolutions against Israel and only six targeting the rest of the world’s countries combined.” Over the past ten years, she added, the UN Human Rights Council “has passed 62 resolutions condemning the reasonable actions Israel takes to defend its security. Meanwhile, the world’s worst human rights abusers in Syria, Iran and North Korea received far fewer condemnations. This cannot continue.”

Given this context, Haley said, “the events of December 23,” when UN Security Council voted for an anti-Israel resolution (which the United States chose not to veto), “were so damaging.”

Noting that in 2015 she became the first governor to sign anti-BDS legislation, Haley asserted that she “will not go to New York and abstain when the UN seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel. In fact, I pledge to you this: I will never abstain when the United Nations takes any action that comes in direct conflict with the interests and values of the United States.”

Haley also observed that the United States contributes 22% of the UN’s budget before asking “are we getting what we pay for?” Haley praised Congress for exploring “ways the United States can use its leverage to make the United Nations a better investment for the American people. I applaud your efforts, and I look forward to working with you to bring seriously needed change to the UN.”

In subsequent questioning by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Haley elaborated her views on the US’s abstention last month. “I think that was the moment we should have told the world how we stand with Israel, and it’s a kick in the gut that we didn’t,” she said. She also told Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that she “absolutely” supports moving the US’s embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Source: (The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower originally published this article on 18 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: President-elect transition team

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the US, through the change in administration, will once again stand firm as Israel’s ally at the United Nations. Ask the Lord to give America’s administration and UN ambassador a clear strategy for disarming the organization’s anti-Israel agenda.

Scripture

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.


- Psalm 33:8

Palestinian Leadership Strikes Deal to Join Coalition With Terror Groups

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Wednesday, 18 January 2017 | The major Palestinian political parties agreed on Tuesday to form a unity government and hold elections after three days of reconciliation meetings in Russia.

“We have reached agreement under which, within 48 hours, we will call on [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas to launch consultations on the creation of a [national unity] government,” Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior official of the ruling Fatah party, told a press conference.

The talks were held in Moscow to restore “the unity of the Palestinian people,” which has been lacking ever since the terrorist group Hamas launched a coup against Fatah and seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Both Hamas and the Iran-backed terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad which also attended the talks have pledged to destroy Israel.

A Fatah-Hamas unity government would violate one of the principles for Middle East peace set out by the Mideast Quartet, (the United States, Russia, European Union, and United Nations). In 2006, the Quartet stated that “all members of a future Palestinian Government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations.”

The two parties have made numerous attempts to reconcile over the past decade without lasting success. However, former Israeli peace negotiator, Tzipi Livni, cited a short-lived 2014 Fatah-Hamas unity agreement as one of the main contributors to the failure of American-led peace talks that year because of Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel or renounce terror. The schism between the two groups has continually delayed the reconstruction of Gaza after the 2014 war, despite Israeli efforts to move the rebuilding process along.

Ahmad, the Fatah spokesman, also claimed that “today the conditions for [a unity initiative] are better than ever.” But just in the past week, infighting led to extended power outages in Gaza prompting unprecedented demonstrations against the terror group’s rule; Hamas arrested a Gaza-based Fatah spokesman; members of each party burned pictures of each other; and Abbas himself accused Hamas of stealing Gaza’s electricity.

Despite these differences, both parties praised a recent terror attack that left four Israeli soldiers dead.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 17 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for His intervention with the planned unification of the Hamas and Fatah parties. Pray for confusion and disunity amongst the terror organizations involved. Thank God as we know He is in control.

Scripture

Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.


- Proverbs 3:25, 26

Israel’s War on Hezbollah’s Accurate Missiles

by Ron Ben-Yishai

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Iranian missile, Fateh-110 on parade

Tuesday, 17 January 2017 | Editor’s note: On Friday, the Syrian regime accused Israel of launching an airstrike in the war-torn country, targeting the Mezzeh military airport west of Damascus. The strike, the Syrians claim, emanated from the Sea of Galilee region in the north of Israel shortly after midnight. In an official statement carried by the official news agency, SANA, the Syrian army “warned Israel of the repercussions of the flagrant attack” and vowed to “amputate the arms of the perpetrators.” According to the Syrian government, this has been the third such strike over the past few weeks.

 The powers-that-be in the Jewish state declined to comment on the allegations, in line with its usual policy to neither confirm nor deny reports of supposed Israeli airstrikes on foreign soil.

 Since the start of the bloody Syrian Civil War, Jerusalem has chosen to remain on the sidelines of the conflict. However, a number of senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have disclosed that the Jewish state acts to ensure that chaos of civil war is not used as a cover to smuggle advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah for use against Israeli targets.

 In fact, early in December 2016, Liberman admitted to a strike in Syria, saying that it was launched to prevent the Lebanese terror organization from obtaining “advanced weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction.”

 According to veteran Israeli journalist, Ron Ben-Yishai, all signs indicate that Israel conducted Friday’s strike on the Mezzeh military airport for this very reason: to destroy a cache of state-of-the-art Iranian surface-to-surface missiles, earmarked for Hezbollah. Ben-Yishai hails these strikes as a “war between wars,” the Jewish state’s preemptive attempt to minimize Israeli casualties and damage in the next bout of war with the Lebanese terror group. Here is his article:

All signs indicate that the strike which took place early Friday morning near the Mezzeh Military Airport west of Damascus, according to Syrian reports, was aimed at destroying a shipment of accurate Iranian surface-to-surface missiles to Hezbollah.

This can be concluded from the claim that the attacked targets were near the airport and from the knowledge that Iran transfers the missiles it supplies to Hezbollah through cargo planes that land in the Damascus area and mainly in the military airport which is located not far from the Lebanon border.

Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and senior commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced recently that the Lebanese organization was receiving missiles, and even accurate missiles, from Iran—likely satellite-guided missiles (GPS) that could reach central and even southern Israel and threaten most of the essential facilities and civilian and military airports in the State of Israel.

They were likely referring to improved Fateh-111 or Fateh-110 missiles and maybe even Zelzal missiles that are produced in Iran which have a range of 200-300 kilometers (125-186 miles). Their warhead weighs about 400 kilograms (880 pounds). Hezbollah has already declared that it plans to use these missiles to attack the General Staff at the Kirya Base in Tel Aviv and other essential targets across Israel.

The accuracy of these missiles can hit targets within a radius of only several meters, instead of hundreds of meters with unguided missiles. For this reason, Israel is interested in reducing the number of such missiles in Hezbollah’s possession. The higher the number of accurate missiles in the hands of Nasrallah’s people, the greater Hezbollah’s ability to target more and more essential facilities in a conflict with Israel and deal more losses on Israeli territory.

According to reports from oppositional sources in Syria, early Friday’s strike also included military facilities in the Jabal Qasiun area, the mountain range overlooking Damascus where many military camps and facilities are located. If facilities were indeed attacked on Mount Qasiun, they were likely, at least according to Syrian opposition sources, missile depots and antiaircraft systems intended to serve Hezbollah’s aerial defense system.

An interesting fact is that the Syrian general staff noted in its official statement that the strike was carried out by Israel Air Force planes which circled the Sea of Galilee area but did not enter Syrian airspace. According to the Syrians, these planes launched accurate guided missiles at the targets near the airport in the Damascus area. The images from the area of the strike indicate that the attack was indeed carried out using accurate means as there were many additional bombings in the area and maybe even casualties.

The Syrians are interested in emphasizing the fact that Israel did not enter their airspace so that they will not have to explain why the strike attributed to Israel was carried out successfully without the Syrians targeting the planes or disrupting their activity. On the other hand, if the strike was indeed carried out by the IAF, Israel has no interest and no need to enter Syrian territory in order to attack targets in the Damascus area, so as to avoid friction with the antiaircraft systems and the planes operated by Russia on Syrian territory.

It’s a known fact that very accurate air-to-surface missiles can be launched from distances of dozens and even hundreds of kilometers and hit the target at an accuracy of 1 or 2 meters [3-6 feet]. There are, of course, additional reports from the Syrian opposition about F-35 IAF planes which attacked for the first time, but it’s safe to assume that even if the IAF did use planes, the Syrian opposition sources had no way of detecting and knowing that.

Damaging Hezbollah’s abilities

Israel, presumably, has no interest in clarifying the uncertainty and so the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] is keeping quiet. Apart from keeping operational information confidential, Israel is not interested in challenging the Syrians in a way which will call for a response on their part. While the Syrians specifically announced that the strike was carried out by Israel, as they have been doing recently, if Israel refrains from claiming responsibility—the possibility of an escalation is reduced.

The Syrian general staff already announced in the past, in the assassination of murderer, Samir Kuntar, in a Damascus suburb that Israeli planes had attacked Syria while circling the Sea of Galilee. It was. In that incident, too, the Syrians claimed that the strike was carried out by missiles.

The victory in Aleppo has instilled confidence in the Damascus regime and in its security forces with Russian and Iranian backing. Today, they appear less sensitive and less afraid of an Israeli response which is why Israel must take the Syrian general staff’s promise to respond seriously.

These may be empty words like in the past, but in light of the recent successes in the war against the rebels, it’s quite possible that the Syrian army will try to implement some sort of retaliation, whether in the Golan Heights or in northern Israel. The IDF is aware of that and is preparing for such a possibility. One thing is clear: The damage caused by the attack early Friday near the Mezzeh Airport appears to be big and will significantly harm Hezbollah’s ability to target Israeli territory.

Experts say this is part of the war between wars, in which the IDF is supposedly trying to minimize casualties among the civilian population and damage the essential facilities in Israel, in case a war breaks out. It’s a Sisyphean battle which has to be waged constantly, as the other side is also finding ways and means to smuggle improved, high-quality weapons to Hezbollah. That is exactly what Israel is trying to thwart—both vis-à-vis Hezbollah and vis-à-vis Hamas.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 16 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: M-ATF/wikipedia

Photo License: wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Declare the Lord’s protection over the borders of Israel; He is a shield of defense and stronghold for His people. Give thanks for the success of this military strike and pray for continued intelligence reports so that the locations of the enemy’s weapons will be exposed and destroyed.

Scripture

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.


- 2 Samuel 22:3

Foiled Gaza Smuggling Attempts Doubled in 2016

by Joshua Spurlock

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Confiscated shipment of “salt” bags containing ammonium-chloride intended for use by Hamas to arm rockets

Thursday, 19 January 2017 | Drones, military clothing and professional-grade diving equipment were among the myriad items that terrorists tried to smuggle into Gaza last year, but Israel’s efforts to stop such smuggling was even better in 2016. More than 1,200 smuggling attempts were stopped by Israel which is a 165% increase over 2015, according to a press release from the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The press release noted that dozens of investigations by Israeli security forces “resulted in significant damage of the smuggling infrastructure in the south

That doesn’t mean that terrorists such as Hamas didn’t try. The variety of items that were attempted to be smuggled into the Strip included small UAVs, security cameras, lasers, rappelling equipment, dual-use fiberglass, water pumps and iron pipes. The head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense Crossing Authority Brig. Gen. (res) Kamil Abu-Rokon said in the press release, “The defense establishment’s bitter war against smugglers has noticeably slowed the strengthening of terrorist groups in Gaza. In recent months, we have… added technologies and new testing methods that add to our abilities in the daily struggle against the smugglers.”

Brig. Gen. Abu-Rokon noted that at the main crossing into Gaza they have installed a new shipment screening system that is the “most advanced in the world.”

Israel maintains the anti-smuggling efforts on Gaza to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons, military gear or dual-use items that can be used in making homemade weapons and gear.

The threat against Israel from Gaza was only reemphasized on Sunday, as the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] spokesperson Twitter account reported that shots were fired from the Strip at Israeli military forces on the border. While a military vehicle was hit, no injuries were reported. Israel responded with tank fire that targeted a Hamas post in Gaza, according to the Twitter report.

The press release said the increase in foiled attempts was due to an increase in truck traffic bringing items into Gaza, an expanded list of items controlled by Israel, and “increased deterrence among truck drivers resulting in decreased cooperation with the smugglers.”

Source: (The Mideast Update originally published this article on 15 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today.)  

Photo Credit: Ashernet/idfs

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that Israel's security forces are successful in halting many smuggling attempts into Gaza. Pray that God's wisdom will further guide all those who work at border crossings to discover future smuggling attempts and save many more Israeli lives.

Scripture

The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.


- Proverbs 10:29

Abbas Meets with Pope, Opens Palestinian Embassy in Vatican

by Ilse Posselt

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View of St. Peter’s Square from top of Michelangelo’s Dome

Tuesday, 17 January 2017 | Over the weekend, as 70 high-level dignitaries of various countries flocked to France for the Paris Peace Conference, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas also set out for Europe. His final destination was, however, not the French capital but rather the Vatican, seat of the Roman Catholic Church, for a get-together with the man at the helm, Pope Francis.

The PA president and the pontiff met for a 23-minute private audience on Saturday afternoon, the third meeting between the two men. Abbas did not attend empty handed. He came bearing gifts emphasizing Israel as the birthplace of Christianity: a stone from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and a documentary explaining the restoration process on the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.

Following the private audience, Abbas inaugurated the PA embassy to the Vatican. As the red, black, white and green flag unfurled over the small building that would in future serve as the base for Palestinian diplomats, Abbas decried the notion that US President-elect, Donald Trump, plans to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and issued an impassioned call for world leaders to recognize the Palestinian state.

The inauguration comes after the Holy See formally recognized the Palestinian state in 2013 and then signed an accord with the PA two years ago to upgrade relations and pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian foreign mission. The new Palestinian embassy is located right outside the Vatican walls in a building owned by the Holy See which has rented it to the PA since last year.

Abbas hailed the opening of the embassy as “a sign that the pope loves the people of Palestine and loves peace.”

During a brief address to reporters in Rome, Abbas told his audience that relocating the American embassy would “certainly not be a help” to breathe new life into the flailing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. “Any attempts at legitimizing the annexation of the city will destroy the prospects of any political process, bury the hopes for a two-state solution and fuel extremism in our region, as well as worldwide,” the PA President threatened.

During his election campaign, Trump vowed that he would move the US embassy in Israel from its current location in Tel Aviv to the City of Gold, should he be chosen as the next American president. Since his election two months ago, speculations have been rife that Trump might make good on the promise with a top aide even revealing that the move is a “top priority.”

The status of Jerusalem has been one of the key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Up until 1967, Judea and Samaria, including east Jerusalem and the Old City, was under Jordanian control. During the Six Day War, Israel recaptured the area reunifying the City of Gold and proclaiming Jerusalem as the undivided, eternal capital of the Jewish people. Various UN nations, including the US, refuse to acknowledge Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and thus maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. The Palestinians claim Judea and Samaria as lands designated for their prospective state and hail east Jerusalem as its intended capital. Should Trump decide to move the embassy to Jerusalem, it would signify that the US accepts the City of Gold as Israel’s capital, a move that Abbas is trying to avoid at all costs.

The PA president also used his Vatican meeting as a podium to accuse Israel of a whole host of evil, including “turning Jerusalem into an exclusive Jewish city, demolishing Palestinian homes, expanding illegal settlements, building an illegal annexation wall and isolating our occupied capital from the rest of Palestine.”

The Vatican’s comments regarding Saturday’s events were somewhat less direct than Abbas’s. In a formal statement released after the meeting, the Holy See explained that the pope and the PA president discussed “the peace process in the Middle East, and hope was expressed that direct negotiations between the parties will be resumed to bring an end to the violence that causes unacceptable suffering to civilian populations and to find a just and lasting solution.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 17 January 2017)

Photo Credit: Diliff/wikipedia

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Lord that the pope encouraged Abbas to attend direct negotiations with Israel due to his concern about the violence that causes unacceptable suffering to civilian populations. Pray for God's will to prevail over the proposed two-state solution, Abbas's willingness to negotiate and the moving of the US embassy.

Scripture

Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: ‘I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, I will never break My covenant with you.’


- Judges 2:1

New Study on Jewish Aliyah from Europe

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New immigrants from France, gathered at the Kotel (illustrative)

Friday, 20 January 2017 | A new study published by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR) concludes that although some European countries had witnessed a significant rise in the number of Jews making aliyah to Israel there is no “exodus” of Jews from Europe.

According to a report by the Guardian the IJPR compared recent trends of Jewish migration with cases of mass migration in response to persecution or major political upheavals in the past.

Jonathan Boyd, the IJPR’s executive director, told the newspaper: “It is clear that Jews in parts of Europe are genuinely concerned about their future, most likely because of anti-Semitism, but the levels of anxiety and apprehension are nowhere near those experienced during previous periods of intense stress, like the 1930s and 1940s.”

The IJPR study focuses on six countries – France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK, which account for about 70 percent of the European Jewish population. It concluded there had been an increase in migration, especially from France, Belgium and Italy; but in the UK, Germany and Sweden levels of migration were not unusual.

Suggesting a definition of an exodus as 30 percent of the Jewish population, it said 4 percent of Jews in Belgium and France had left for Israel between 2010 and 2015. The proportion leaving from the Britain, Germany and Sweden was well below 2 percent of the total.

Staetsky, the author of the IJPR report, said: “Large segments of Jewish populations in European countries perceive anti-Semitism to be on the increase…Migration plays a very central role in Jewish demography, as Jews are known to move in response to a particularly acute deterioration in the political or economic situation. If Jews feel unwelcome in Europe, their movement out of Europe will serve as the first sure sign of that.”

Source: (Excerpt of press release by the World Jewish Congress on 12 January, 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Isranet

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for His promise to ransom His people from the corners of the earth and bring them to the Land of their inheritance. Pray that the Jewish people scattered abroad will clearly hear God's voice calling them home.

Scripture

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.


- Isaiah 35:10

Water Deal Reached between Israel and Palestinians

by Elior Levy

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Tap water (illustrative)

Monday, 16 January 2017 | Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT) signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Civil Affairs on Sunday to renew the activity of the Joint Water Committee [JWC].

The Israeli, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai and the Palestinian, Hussein al-Sheikh, brought to the signing the heads of their respective water authorities. The agreement seeks to establish a framework for the convening of the JWC under the 1995 Interim Agreement, part of the Oslo Accords. One of the goals is to improve and modernize the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] water infrastructure which is essential to the fabric of normal life for those who live there.

According to the agreement, the JWC will reconvene after not having met regularly for six years. It will discuss the allocation of additional water to the West Bank  and Gaza Strip, increasing water sources with new drilling, environmental issues, water tariffs, agricultural water use and promoting hydrological matters. The agreement will allow the laying of new pipes for water, sewage and effluent quickly and efficiently.

Another result is that new projects should be able to advance quickly, including planning new water lines to increase the capacity existing ones which have reached their limit. The committee will work on coordinating joint water-reservoir usage in preparation for the coming summer months.

Meanwhile, Israel and the Palestinians are working to formulate a long-term strategic plan for up to 2040, planning for the expected population growth in the region. The JWC should streamline dozens of other new projects which include laying water lines throughout the West Bank.

The COGAT said, “The signing of this water agreement proves that it’s possible to reach understandings and agreements when we discuss issues substantively, bilaterally, clean of extraneous issues of natural resources and additional infrastructures that affect the entire population. Over the past year and half, we’ve signed four agreements: electricity, water, mail and 3G cellular infrastructure which is intended to improve the quality of life for all the populations in the region.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 15 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: de:Benutzer:Alex Anlicker

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Glorify the Lord for peaceful negotiations and resolutions between Israel and the PA for water, electricity, mail and cellular infrastructure. Pray that this attitude will spill over to many other areas of governmental issues.

Scripture

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.


- Zechariah 7:9, 10

A Breath of Fresh Air

by Edgar Asher

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Professor Mordechai Kramer, head of Beilinson’s Pulmonary Institute, Liz Morad, Dr Milton Saute and Professor Dan Aravot, head of Beilinson’s cardiothoracic surgery department (left to right).

Friday, 20 January 2017 | Surgeons at Petach Tikvah’s Beilinson Hospital have successfully performed a rare lung transplant procedure on a 39-year old woman who had been attached to a respirator for the best part of a year before a suitable donor lung was made available.

Liz Morad, who underwent surgery at Beilinson earlier this month was unable to speak and had to communicate with people by SMS or video, because she did not want to be seen by people in her distressed state. Now, home at last she is walking and speaking.

Liz Morad’s breathing problems started about four years ago and gradually over that time the condition of her lungs deteriorated so much that the doctors determined that only a lung transplant could save her life.  However the fact of being on a respirator for such an extended period of time presented additional difficulties to the hospital’s doctors.

The actual operation was fraught with problems because, apart from anything else, Morad’s muscles that control her breathing were very weak due to the fact that the respirator was doing all the work to enable her to breath. In addition there were very few recorded cases in the world where a patient had successfully received a lung transplant after being so long on a respirator before the operation could proceed.

Even Morad’s medical team has expressed their pleasure and amazement that she has almost returned completely to a normal life after so many years. For Liz Morad one of the greatest pleasures was being able to hug her daughters after such a long time.

Source: (Ashernet originally published this article on 17 January 2017. Time-related language was modified to reflect our republication today.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving and praise for the skill of the medical team who performed the surgery. Rejoice with Liz Morad as she is once again able to live normally. Pray that lessons learned during this operation will help others.

Scripture

I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.


- Genesis 12:2

Israeli Restaurants Serve Syrian Cuisine to Raise Funds for Refugees

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Friday, 20 January 2017 | A group of Israeli restaurateurs have begun a two-week campaign to serve Syrian foods and use the proceeds to help Syrian refugees, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

During the Kitchen Without Borders program which started Monday and lasts through the end of January, more than thirty participating restaurants, cafes and diners across Israel are serving dishes based on Syrian cuisine and earmarking the earnings for charity.

“We see what is happening there next to us and how it’s sad,” chef and restaurant owner Yair Yosefi explained. “And apart from looking at the side and say how awful it is and moving on—we also wanted to contribute and raise awareness of the situation. It’s going on right across the border, this inconceivable disaster. So we thought of an initiative beyond a single restaurant, to do something on a larger and wider scale.”

After the restaurateurs decided to help, it was necessary to find a charity whose funds would actually go to help Syrians in need. (UNICEF was eliminated because its activities in Syria are controlled by the Bashar al-Assad regime.) A fund called Karam (Arabic for “generous”) was instead selected.

“This isn’t a political project; it’s a humanitarian one,” wrote Haaretz food critic Ronit Vered. “It’s based on the fact that every person is a person. … It is our obligation to help. Beyond that, if the help is coming through food, that is part of our shared geographic space, then so much the better; it’s one more thing to unite us.”

More information on the program can be found at the Kitchens Without Borders Facebook page.

This is the latest example of Israeli assistance for victims of Syria’s civil war.

Over 2,500 Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals since 2013, even though the two countries have been in a state of war since 1948. Israeli journalist, Ron Ben-Yishai, documented one of the risky missions the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] undertook to rescue an injured Syrian fighter in 2015. Pregnant women sometimes travel to the border in order to deliver their babies in Israel, and Israeli doctors have treated young Syrian patients with cutting-edge procedures that allowed them to walk again.

An Israeli crowd funding campaign raised nearly $350,000 for Syrian refugees last month.

Last year, Aboud Dandachi, a refugee from Syria now living in Turkey, expressed his gratitude to “true friends” of Syrians, especially Israel and Jewish organizations, in an article for Tablet Magazine. Dandachi also maintains a website called Thank You Am Israel which was created “in appreciation of the assistance given to Syrian refugees by Israeli and Jewish organizations and individuals.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 18 January 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: מטבח ללא גבולות / Facebook

Prayer Focus
Pray that the world will recognize Israel’s heart of “tikun olam”—a key component of the Jewish soul—simply known as “repairing the world.”

Scripture

Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.


- Psalm 41:1

Action
Is there a need in your area where you can make a difference through practical acts of service? Consider ways you, too, can be one who repairs the world.

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