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Friday, December 15, 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.

Chag Hanukkah Sameach (Happy Hanukkah) from Jerusalem

by Ilse Posselt

Hanukkiyah at the Western Wall

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 | Since yesterday, streets in Israel have been resounding with the joyful phrase, “Chag Hanukkah Sameach!” as loved ones and perfect strangers wish each other a happy feast of Hanukkah. Last night, in homes across the Promised Land and in Jewish communities around the world, family and friends gathered for the first night of this eight-day festival. It was a time to light the first of eight candles on the hanukkiyah (the special Hanukkah lamp stand with nine candle holders), to feast on treats traditional to the festival, and to remember the great miracle of the Almighty that Hanukkah commemorates.

The story behind Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication, reads like the ultimate epic tale. All the ingredients are there: a small band of faithful warriors taking a stand for what is right instead of settling for what is comfortable, a tyrant determined to bend his subjects to his iron will, a miraculous victory in the face of overwhelming odds, and the God of the Universe showing up for those who wait on Him.

It happened some twenty-one centuries ago, when the Land of Israel was ruled by the mighty Syrian king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. His reign was characterized by severe oppression and frequent massacres. Antiochus prohibited the people of Israel from practicing Judaism, set up altars and idols for the forced worship of Greek gods, desecrated the Second Temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing a pig on the altar, and placing a Greek priest in charge of the God of Israel’s dwelling place. He offered the Jews two choices: convert or die.

Many converted, opting for a life of comfort over conviction. Yet a handful of Jews, known as the Maccabees, revolted and waged a three-year guerrilla campaign against the overwhelming force of the Syrian empire. Against all odds, the tiny band of Jews defeated one of the world’s mightiest armies at the time and drove the oppressors from Jerusalem.

Immediately after their miraculous victory, the Maccabees sought to purify and rededicate the Temple by rebuilding the altar and relighting the menorah, the golden lampstand with seven branches, which was meant to be kept burning day and night. There was, however, one problem: only one vessel of consecrated anointing oil could be found to light the menorah, enough to keep the lamp stand aglow for just one night. Yet according to tradition, the miraculous happened. The flames of the menorah continued flickering for eight nights, the exact time it took to prepare a fresh supply of consecrated oil. From that event the feast came to be called Hanukkah, which means ‘dedication’ in both Hebrew and Aramaic.

Today, the descendants of the ancient Maccabees celebrate this miracle of light and oil through the eight-day feast of Hanukkah. On each night of the eight days, family and friends gather to light the candles of the hanukkiyah—one candle on the first night, two on the second and so forth, until all eight candles of the Hanukkiyah are alight. For eight days, tables are laden with traditional Hanukkah treats, like sufganiyot (sweet donuts), latkes (potato pancakes) and other deep-fried delicacies to mark the miracle of oil. And for eight nights, the fragile glow spilling from thousands of candles in Israel and in Jewish homes across the world reminds those who witness it of the tremendous significance of something as seemingly ordinary as light.

While lighting the first candle on the hanukkiyah two years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the modern-day significance of the ancient miracle.

“2,200 years ago, a handful of Jewish fighters arose and defeated what was then a global empire. Indeed, the threat was to our unity and our greatness. The Maccabees fought, first of all to restore this independence… This effort, which undoubtedly ensured the future of our people, also serves as a symbol and an example to peoples in general and to the strength of a people, to strength of spirit.”

“They dispelled the darkness,” Netanyahu continued. “And we are fighting a great darkness today. The struggle of Israel today, as it was then, in those days at this season, is—first of all—a struggle for our existence, independence and culture but also for all humanity.”

“Israel is a candle in the darkness. Around us is a great darkness and here in Jerusalem, in the State of Israel, we are lifting the banner of the independence and honor of man, for the right of the Jewish people to live free in its land and in its city, the same city that the Maccabees liberated.”

“This battle has continued into our generation. In every generation they have risen up to destroy us and in every generation the Holy One, Blessed be He, has saved us from them, on condition that we hold the banner and candle and also the sword of Israel. And here, we are doing just that. First of all, to defend ourselves but I say we are defending all of humanity, as well as the culture of all humanity, against the unbridled brutality that the world is today beginning to understand.”

This year, the first candle on the hanukkiyah was lit at sunset last night. And on the evening of Wednesday, 20 December, all the candles on the candelabrum will be burning brightly.

While Hanukkah usually shares the month of December with Christmas, the two feasts rarely coincide. The variance in timing is due to the use of two different calendars to determine the date for each festival. Each year, the Jewish people celebrate the feasts according to the biblical calendar, which is based on a lunar cycle. The eight-day festival of Hanukkah starts on the 25th of the ninth month, called Kislev. The date for Christmas, on the other hand, is determined according to the solar-based Gregorian calendar. Since these two calendars do not line up, the two feasts seldom start together.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 13 December 2017)

Photo Credit: Oren Rozen/wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the nation of Israel during this intense time of threats, asking that as they light the Hannukah candles, they will continue to shine forth as a light to the nations, revealing God and what He is doing on earth today.

Scripture

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.


- Psalm 43:3-4

Fragile Situation in Gaza Can Rapidly Deteriorate into War

by Elior Levi and Yoav Zitun

Ten rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel this week alone. (illustrative)

Wednesday, 13 December December 2017 | During Operation Protective Edge in June, 2014—launched in response to the kidnapping of Naftali Frenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]—we spoke to a source privy to latest intelligence information.

Although the conversation [then] centered on IDF [Israel Defense Forces] actions in the West Bank taken against Hamas infrastructures, the source advised us to “focus on Gaza. That’s where the real story is.” We responded, “You must be confused,” but he was insistent that “Gaza is where it’s at.”

At the time, his words seemed unreasonable. After all, all the focus was on the seething West Bank. However, one month later, Gaza became the focal point in a military campaign that lasted a difficult 50 days.

Three unprecedented quiet years on the Gaza front have come and gone, during which Hamas did its level best to keep the peace and prevent rocket attacks by other organizations in the Strip.

Any occasional rockets that nevertheless came through were usually the result of internal feuds, wherein Hamas would arrest Salafist militants and make their lives difficult and—as an act of revenge—they [the Salafists] would launch rockets into Israel.

The IDF would then strike Hamas targets—the organization being “the sovereign authority in Gaza,” as per the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit—and the Salafists would achieve their objective.

Hamas isn’t really trying to prevent rockets

Now things look different. The rocket fired at Ashkelon Monday night was fired by insurgent Salafist forces who were trying, according to the IDF, to drag Hamas into a conflict with Israel.

Rocket fire has become more frequent, a few times a week, and has not been aimed at empty fields but rather at population centers such as Ashkelon and Sderot. Even if Hamas has not been directly responsible for the launches, it has not been doing much to stop them.

Ten rockets have been launched at Israel from Gaza in the past week alone. Most are related to the tense aftermath of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Two were intercepted, and two fell in open land causing no injuries.

Monday night’s incident is unique in that the city of Ashkelon was targeted and sirens were heard in communities even further north.

Hamas is characteristically trying to have its cake and eat it too: Inflaming the West Bank while keeping Gaza calm; allowing rockets to be fired, but not firing them themselves; keeping the fire steady, but ensuring the situation doesn’t deteriorate too much; convincing Egyptian intelligence that it is preventing rocket launches while giving the green light to insurgents and not doing much to apprehend them; allowing demonstrations near the border with Israel but ensuring they do not get out of control.

IDF sources say that Hamas is, in fact, working to keep things calm and prevent rocket fire at Israel, but the launch from the northern portion of the Gaza Strip and the irregular sequences of relatively short-range fire raise concerns of a deterioration that will spill outside of Gaza, as do the attacks and attempted attacks emanating from the West Bank in the last few days and violent protests, which may resume this weekend.

Gaza’s pound of flesh to the struggle

The increase in rocket fire is good for Hamas, as it enables the organization to exhibit to its supporters’ base the price exacted for Trump’s declaration, and that Gaza has given its pound of flesh to the struggle.

But 2014 has proven that events can rapidly spin out of control and escalate into another violent clash. This is especially true after the IDF has scored twice in one month by finding and destroying Hamas’s greatest strategic weapon—its offensive tunnels.

IDF sources confirm that destroying the tunnels in which the terror organization has invested huge efforts and vast sums of money have also done their part to increase tensions.

The IDF is also attempting a balancing act by ensuring relative calm while destroying the Hamas tunnel project. But they are keeping in mind that continuing with the primary objective on the southern front—destroying the tunnels—may cause Hamas to initiate escalation that may end up resulting in war.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 12 December 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: IDF/Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the unstable situation brewing in Gaza as there has been increased rocket fire into Israel. Ask that war will not break out. Pray for the safety of the families who live in southern Israel and the IDF soldiers who serve in that area. Give thanks for Israel’s advanced siren warning system and the Iron Dome that intercepts rockets.

Scripture

For You will light my lamp; the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.


- Psalm 18:28-30

Netanyahu: Iran Eyes Sending 80,000 Shiite Fighters to Middle East

by Itamar Eichner

PM Benjamin Netanyahu and EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini in Brussels

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday of Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, as his official visit to Paris and Brussels was winding down.

“If Iran makes good on its threat, it will do so by utilizing 80,000 Shiite fighters, which will cause religious wars to erupt again,” Netanyahu said in a press briefing before returning to Israel.

Earlier Monday Netanyahu convened with the European Union’s [EU] chief diplomat Federica Mogherini, after which he proceeded to attend an informal breakfast with 28 of the EU’s foreign ministers, which the Lithuanian foreign minister organized without Mogherini’s knowledge.

“I stressed we have to find a new discourse on the region,” Netanyahu explained to the ministers before chiding them to “stop pampering the Palestinians.”

“I think the Palestinians need a reality check. You have to stop cutting them slack. That’s the only way to move forward towards peace,” the prime minister opined.

Netanyahu also denied to the ministers the allegation [that] settlements were at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying, “They consider the real settlements to be in Jaffa. Trump merely told them the truth.”

When the ministers asked him if Israel was willing to undertake certain actions to improve Palestinians’ lives, Netanyahu replied, “I told them we already were: on matters relating to water, work permits and—in the future—creating a train line transporting goods from Haifa to the Arab world through the bridges over the Jordan and a linkup to Jenin.”

Source: (Excerpt of an article originally published by Ynetnews on 11 December 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/MFA

Prayer Focus
Cry out against the threat that Iran may send 80, 000 Shiite fighters to Syria. Pray for PM Netanyahu and ask God that his words of warning will be heard by many world leaders who will risk their reputations to support Israel and stand against terrorism. Also pray for the Church to stand with Israel and not fall prey to the deception of the enemy.

Scripture

A wicked man hardens his face, but as for the upright, he establishes his way. There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD.


- Proverbs 21:29-30

Israel Foils Hamas Plot to Kidnap Israelis in Judea and Samaria

by Yoav Zitun

Road to Nablus: terrorist cell members conducted observations at major junctions, main roads and bus stops

Thursday, 14 December 2017 | A Hamas plan to kidnap Israelis in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] during the Hanukkah holiday was thwarted by Israeli security forces, the Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security organization] said Wednesday.

A joint operation by the Shin Bet, IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and Israel Police exposed a Hamas terror cell from the village of Tell near Nablus that planned to abduct a soldier or a settler from one of the bus stops at the Samaria region’s main junctions. The abducted Israeli was to be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations for prison release with Israel.

In its investigation, the Shin Bet learned the cell members conducted observations at major junctions, main roads and bus stops in the area to gather intelligence for the planned attack. The cell leader also made inquiries about possible safe houses in the Nablus area to hide their hostage.

The plan was for cell members to disguise themselves as local Jewish residents and entice a victim to enter their vehicle.

The Shin Bet seized weapons the cell members planned to use to carry out the kidnapping, including a handgun, an electric shocker and pepper spray. The cell members also allegedly planned to acquire more weapons.

The cell leader, 26-year-old Hamas member Muad Ashtiyah, is suspected of planning the attack, purchasing weapons to carry it out and recruiting other members.

Hamas members Mahmoud Ramadan and Ahmed Ramadan, both aged 19, are suspected of joining the cell after being recruited by Ashtiyya.

The cell members were in contact with Omar Assida, a Hamas militant and member of the Hamas top command in the Gaza Strip, who is responsible for organizing military actions and the flow of funds from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. The Hamas command in Gaza provided guidance and financing for the planned abduction.

The Samaria military prosecution is expected to file indictments against the three cell members.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 13 December 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Almonroth/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Glorify God for lives saved and tragedy prevented when the Shin Bet foiled a Hamas kidnapping plot! Keep Israel’s intelligence forces in prayer as they prevent many attacks that never reach the news. Pray for guidance, wisdom, knowledge, energy, physical strength, protection and camaraderie. Also lift up their families for peace of mind.

Scripture

He made a pit and dug it out, and has fallen into the ditch which he made. His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.


- Psalm 7:15-16

Security Guard in Critical Condition following Jerusalem Terror Attack

by Yishai Porat, Yael Friedson and Rotem Elizera

A Magen David Adom emergency crew responded to the crisis at Central Bus Station (illustrative)

Monday, 11 December 2017 | A 46-year-old security guard was stabbed in his upper body and seriously wounded by a terrorist Sunday afternoon on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Street, near the city’s Central Bus Station.

A Magen David Adom emergency crew attended to the man and evacuated him by ambulance to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center. After undergoing surgery, he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit for further treatment. Two other women were evacuated to the hospital after suffering shock.

Police said the terrorist arrived at the Central Bus Station’s main entrance, pulled out a knife, stabbed a security guard, who was later identified as Asher Elmaliach, and fled the scene. A local citizen who spotted him running along Jaffa Street chased him together with a police officer standing nearby, and after catching him were able to subdue him.

The terrorist was later identified as Yassin Abu al-Qaraa, a 24-year-old resident of Nablus. He was arrested and taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security organization] at the police’s central unit.

An initial investigation revealed he had acted as a “lone wolf” terrorist. He has a work permit in the Seam Line area, but not inside Israel and doesn’t have a residency permit.

On Saturday, at 10:56 pm, the terrorist wrote on Facebook: “For Allah, we must boost Jerusalem’s status, restore religion’s glory and sanctify al-Aqsa, and the blood will flow from us.”

Dr. Ofer Merin, executive director of Shaare Zedek’s Trauma Unit said the wounded security guard had arrived at the hospital in very serious condition and was immediately operated on. “Unfortunately, the knife hit his heart,” he added. “His condition has stabilized, but we can’t say his life isn’t in danger at this time.”

Senior MDA paramedic Hananel Albo said there had been a great commotion outside the central bus station when he arrived there. “A man in his 30s was lying near the entrance, barely conscious and suffering from a stabbing wound in the upper part of his body.

“The crews dispatched to the area are attending to a number of people who witnessed the incident and suffered anxiety attacks,” the paramedic added.

Yochai Swisa, who witnessed the attack, said: “It took me a few seconds to realize I was at the scene of a terror attack. That vile person’s deep insanity made me realize it was a terror attack. There was hysteria, and several minutes later he was shoved by the angry crowd, which hit and attacked him ceaselessly.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 10 December 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: MGonzalez/Bridges for Peace

Prayer Focus
Pray for a fighting spirit, strength and continued healing for the security guard who was stabbed in the heart while on duty in Jerusalem. Ask God to encourage his family during this time. Remember all the onlookers who have witnessed terror attacks as these bring memories, trauma and fear that affect their everyday lives.

Scripture

LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.


- Isaiah 33:2 (NIV)

Netanyahu to EU: “Recognizing Reality is the Substance of Peace”

by Ilse Posselt

PM Netanyahu at EU headquarters in Brussels as he is welcomed by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Brussels on Monday for an informal breakfast with European Union (EU) foreign ministers. The get-together at the EU headquarters in the Belgian capital was anything but a casual affair. Netanyahu arrived amidst a storm of criticism leveled at Israel and the US over American President Donald Trump’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and mounting pressure from his fellow breakfast guests to further the stalled peace process with the Palestinians. In fact, an anonymous Israeli government source likened the prime minister’s EU visit to a trip to the “lion’s den.”

Despite the onslaught of criticism and pressure, Netanyahu stood his ground. The prime minister praised Trump’s decision and called on the countries represented at the EU follow the US president’s lead.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the breakfast as he was greeted by the Head of EU Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, Netanyahu explained that the recognition would contribute to peace in the Middle East, rather than inflame tensions in the region, as charged by the Palestinians, Arab leaders and European governments.

“It makes peace possible because recognizing reality is the substance of peace, the foundation of peace,” he held.

“I believe that even though we do not have an agreement yet, this is what will happen in the future,” Netanyahu continued. “I believe that all, or most, of European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem and recognize it as Israel’s capital and engage robustly with us, for security, prosperity and peace.”

The prime minister also touched on the prospective framework for peace on which the US is currently working. “There is now an effort to bring forward, a new peace proposal by the American administration. I think we should give peace a chance. I think we should see what is presented and see if we can advance this peace.”

The push for peace, he highlighted, has a starting point. “If we have to begin it, I would say it is one place: Recognize the Jewish state. It has always been about the Jewish state. And it is time the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and also recognize the fact that it has a capital. It is called Jerusalem.”

Mogherini had a contrasting opinion. Speaking during the brief joint media address with Netanyahu before the breakfast, the EU foreign policy chief reiterated the body’s disapproval over the change in the City of Gold’s status. “The only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,” she offered, “is based on two states with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”

The worst possible scenario at present, she said, would be an “escalation of tensions, of violence, first of all around the holy places but also in the region and beyond.”

Mogherini continued to focus on the stalled peace process. “We believe it is in Israel’s interest, especially its security interest, to find a sustainable and comprehensible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is why the European Union will increase its work… to relaunch the peace process, even if it seems [that these are] difficult times.”

For his part, Netanyahu was quick to point out that the Palestinians are to blame for the bumps in the path to peace. According to the prime minister, the people of Israel have actively been seeking peace with the Palestinians from well before the rebirth of the Jewish state in 1948. Yet each overture has been rebuffed and the Palestinians remain unwilling to recognize a Jewish state—regardless of its borders.

“This is what led to the conflict, and this is what continues the conflict,” he said. “You see that in the continuous denial, unfortunately, by the Palestinians of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and the denial of Jewish history.

Expounding on the Jewish ties to Jerusalem, Netanyahu held, “For 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people, established by King David, well documented in the history of the Bible and the aftermath, when Jews in the ghettos of Europe whispered, ‘Next year in Jerusalem, next year in Jerusalem.’”

While UN bodies have passed various ludicrous resolutions “that seek to deny history and seek to deny historical truth,” the undeniable truth of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is “clearly evident to all of you who visit Israel.”

PM Netanyahu with French President Emmanuel Macron

Netanyahu’s trip to Brussels follows a stop in France on Sunday, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron. The French president’s sentiments were no warmer than that of the EU. During a joint press conference, Macron underscored his disapproval over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying that the move fails to “serve security, especially security of Palestinians and Israelis.”

Yet Netanyahu stood his ground against the French condemnation. “Where else is the capital of Israel but Jerusalem?” he asked during the press conference. “Jerusalem has not been the capital of any other people. Paris is the capital of France. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years; it has been the capital of the State of Israel for 70 years.”

Addressing Macron, Netanyahu continued. “We respect your history and your choices and I know that, as friends, you respect ours.”

Acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he continued, “is also essential for peace. I think that what peace requires is to be built on the foundation of truth, on the facts of the past and on the present. This is the only way that you can build a pluralistic and successful future. The sooner the Palestinians come to the realization, the sooner we will have peace.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 12 December 2017)

Photo Credit: In Brussels- Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Photo Credit: In France- Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Bring PM Netanyahu before the Lord, asking that he will be encouraged during this stressful time as he is receiving much criticism. Cry out against the world that is so willing to believe the Palestinians’ lie that Israel is the stumbling block for the peace process and therefore fair game for terror attacks.

Scripture

So the angel who spoke with me said to me, “Proclaim, saying, ‘thus says the LORD of hosts: I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal’”…“It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”


- Zechariah 1:14; 12:9

Abbas: No Peace in the World without Palestinian State with Jerusalem as Capital

by Ilse Posselt

US President Trump and PA President Abbas in Washington DC, May 2017

Thursday, 14 December 2017 | Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) gathered in Istanbul yesterday for an emergency meeting. They came on the invitation of Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The reason for the hastily-called get together, held exactly one week after American President Donald Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, was to provide a platform for Arab and Muslim countries to forge a unified position on the decision going forward.

Mahmoud Abbas’ address to the summit reportedly took center stage, with the Palestinian Authority (PA) President leveling a flood of scathing criticism and blatant bullying techniques at the US and Israel in a speech that lasted for over an hour.

Among others, Abbas vowed that there would be no peace anywhere in the world unless the Palestinians get a state with Jerusalem as capital, threatened that the Palestinians may nullify any existing agreements with the Jewish state and called upon nations of the world to retract their recognition of Israel. The PA president further charged that the US should have no future role to play in the push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Disregarding a plethora of historic, scientific and archeological evidence to the contrary and offering no grounds for his statement, Abbas told his audience of 57 OIC member states, “Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state… There will be no peace, no stability without that.”

The threats of violence continued. “If there is no Palestinian state along the June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, there will not be peace in the region, in the territories or in the world,” Abbas said. “They must choose.”

The PA President blasted Trump’s recognition as a “crime” and a “gift” to the “Zionist movement” that “crosses all red lines.”

In light of the alleged wrong done to the Palestinian people, Abbas strongly suggested that countries rescind their acknowledgement and ties with the Jewish state as a whole.  “We call on world nations to reconsider their recognition of Israel…”

Instead, he urged governments, particularly those who support the two-state solution, to recognize the so-called Palestinian state within 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital and called on Arab and Muslim nations to back such a recognition with financial support.

Abbas continued to condemn the US as unfit to play a future role in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, given its alleged bias in favor of the Jewish state. Following years of currying favor with the US, the PA president shifted position radically and indicated that he would no longer be willing to cooperate with any American-driven initiatives, including the much-anticipated peace framework on which the Trump administration is currently working.

Bemoaning his shattered trust in the US, Abbas urged that the US be removed from its role of sole mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and suggested that “the [peace] process in its entirety be transferred to the United Nations.”

Further, the PA president threatened to nullify any current treaties and agreements. “We will tell the Israelis that we are no longer committed to any agreement from Oslo until today.”

He added that the PA planned to turn to the UN, a body known for its consistent anti-Israel bias, to gain full membership. “We agreed with America we would not join international institutions on the condition that American does not transfer its embassy, does not initiate any action against our office in Washington, and orders Israel to freeze settlement building,” Abbas said.

Turkish president Erdogan, the summit’s host, officially opened the gathering in an address right before Abbas. He invited countries “to recognize occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” adding that the Arab and Muslim world would “never give up” on that demand. He also advised states that have not recognized a Palestinian state to do so as a matter of urgency. “The process to include Palestine in international agreements and institutions should be sped up.”

Erdogan described Israel as “a terror state,” yet gave no foundation for his charge. He added that the recognition of Jerusalem served as a reward for the Jewish state’s supposed “terror acts,” but failed to back up his allegation with proof.

Both Israel and the US were quick to respond to the summit’s allegations. The Trump administration pointed a finger at Abbas’ charges, saying that such rhetoric “has prevented peace for years.” For his part, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that he was “unimpressed” with the tirade.

Yesterday’s summit drew to a close with the OIC releasing a statement, stating that the 57-member group declares east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine and called on other countries to “recognize the State of Palestine and east Jerusalem as its occupied capital.” It remains unclear how the OIC plans to implement or enforce this decision.

As the ancient prophecy of Zechariah 12:3 that speaks of Jerusalem becoming a “very heavy stone for all peoples” seem closer today than ever, we at Bridges for Peace urge our readers to continue standing with us in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6), the city God chose for His name to dwell forever (2 Chron. 6:6).

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 14 December 2017)

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Prayer Focus
Beseech God for His will to be done in the Middle East. Pray that the nation of Israel will never lose hope in the cause that they are fighting for. Cry out for the nations of the earth to be protected from the influence of lies and historical revisionism that are so prevalent in the Palestinian narrative. Ask God to guard our hearts, all of our hearts.

Scripture

A land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.


- Deuteronomy 11:12

A Dry and Thirsty Land

by Janet Aslin

Parched and cracked earth (illustrative)

Thursday, 14 December 2017 | This winter’s first rainfall appeared on schedule—during the week of Sukkot, the second week of October. At that time, Arutz Sheva published an article with this quote from Water Authority spokesman Uri Shore, “If God forbid the coming winter is similar to the previous four, then our water sources are going to be in huge trouble.”

In the two months that followed, rain has fallen sparsely, if at all, on the land of Israel. For example, the tiny kibbutz of Kefar Blum had received a mere 10% of the annual rainfall by December 12th. Founded in 1943 by new immigrants from the United Kingdom, South Africa, the United States and the Baltic countries, in the past this kibbutz has relied primarily on agriculture—cotton, dairy and fruit—as its economic base. And agriculture has been the area hardest-hit by lack of rain. Other locations throughout the northern part of Israel are experiencing a similar lack of rain.

Jerusalem’s rainfall has been even less than Kefar Blum’s as the city has received just 8% of its normal amount of rain during the first two months of the rainy season. Mid-March marks the end the time when rain can be expected to fall. As we have noted in previous weeks, the situation is desperate and requires tenacious intercession on the part of those who love the Land of God and His people. Remind the Lord of His promises that “the heavens shall give their dew” (Zech 8:12) and to “make the wilderness a pool of water” (Isa. 41:17).

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 14 December 2017)

Photo Credit: PellissierJP/pixabay

Prayer Focus
Rejoice in the Lord as He is the God of Israel, the holy One who keeps His people! Remind the Lord of His promises to water the land during the rainy season, to give seed to the sower, bread to the eater and water for the animals living in the wild. Praise Him for the abundance of rain He is sending.

Scripture

The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen.


- Isaiah 43:20

Bahraini Interfaith Group Visits Israel at Behest of King to “Send a Message of Peace”

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain sent the delegation to Israel.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017 | A delegation of religious figures from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, sent by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, arrived in Israel this week “in order to send a message of peace,” The Times of Israel reported on Sunday. It is extremely rare for representatives from Arab countries with which Israel maintains no formal diplomatic relations to visit the Jewish state and is further evidence of the normalization process between the two nations.

The Bahraini delegation, which is made up of 24 members of the “This is Bahrain” group, is in Israel for a four-day visit with the mandate to foster a climate of religious tolerance between people of different faiths. On their website, the group states its commitment to a vision of “religious freedom and peaceful co-existence where we all live together in harmony in the spirit of mutual respect and love.”

A Shiite cleric on the trip told Hadashot TV news that “The king sent us with a message of peace to the whole world.” The cleric said that Shiites, who make up a majority of the Sunni ruled country, do not harbor hatred against Jews or members of any other faiths. “The Shiites in Bahrain and outside don’t feel hatred, they don’t carry a message of loathing or hate towards any religion or religious stream whatsoever,” he said.

In 2009, Bahrain’s crown prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa published an op-ed in The Washington Post, in which he urged Arab countries to reach out to Israel in the interest of peace. WikiLeaks documents revealed that senior officials from Israel and Bahrain have spoken in recent years, including a 2007 meeting between then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa in New York. The gulf kingdom also named Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo as the first Jewish Ambassador to the United States from an Arab nation in 2011.

Bahrain, like Israel, is extremely alarmed by Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and Bahraini officials have stated their desire to establish ties between Jerusalem and Manama to help contain the Islamic Republic’s influence in the region.

Earlier this year, a prominent rabbi, who met with Bahrain’s king, told The Times of Israel that al-Khalifa said he opposes the Arab states’ boycott of Israel and intends to allow citizens from his kingdom to travel freely to the Jewish state.

Source: (The Israel Project originally published this article in its publication The Tower on 11 December 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the wisdom of King al-Khalifa and for his acknowledgement that he and his people are in favor of the Jewish state and will support Israel. Thank God for all that is happening beneath the surface in the Arab world and give thanks that He is in control.

Scripture

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!


- Isaiah 52:7

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