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Friday, August 26, 2022

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Every week, we post 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.

US Responds to Iran’s Proposal on “Final” Nuclear Deal Draft as Lapid Berates Agreement

by Kate Norman

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Nuclear energy comes from splitting atoms.

Thursday, 25 August 2022 | US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price confirmed on Wednesday that the United States has responded to Iran’s proposal on the European Union’s “final” nuclear agreement draft. Meanwhile, appeals continue pouring out of Jerusalem for world leaders, particularly Washington and the EU, to walk away from the talks.

Iran is now reviewing the US response “and will announce its opinion in this context to the [European Union] coordinator after it completes its review,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani announced.

John Kirby, Washington’s National Security Council spokesman, gave few details about the US response, but said they are “closer now than we were even just a couple of weeks ago because Iran made a decision to make some concessions,” as quoted by the Times of Israel.

“We’re not there yet,” Kirby added. “And because we’re not there yet, I think we’re just going to be relatively careful here about how much detail we put out there.”

Speaking to foreign correspondents in Jerusalem yesterday, Prime Minister Yair Lapid berated what he called the “bad” nuclear agreement that “does not meet the standards set by [US] President [Joe] Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.”

Washington and Tehran appear to be close to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which intends to provide sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear development.

Former US President Donald Trump, however, exited the deal in 2018, arguing that it did too little to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambition, and reimposed heavy sanctions against the regime in a “maximum pressure” campaign.

A year later, Iran began openly and progressively violating its terms under the agreement.

US President Joe Biden and his administration have been pushing to resurrect the deal in on-again-off-again talks since April 2021. The EU-mediated talks bore little fruit until earlier this month, when the European body presented a “final” draft of the nuclear agreement, urging both Washington and Tehran to take it or leave it and respond quickly.

Iran replied last week with a “yes, but” response, which the US studied before providing its own response yesterday.

“The Iranians are making demands again,” Lapid told reporters yesterday in comments released by his office. “The negotiators are ready to make concessions, again.

“This is not the first time this has happened,” Lapid added. “The countries of the West draw a red line, the Iranians ignore it, and the red line moves.”

“If the Iranians didn’t ‘take it,’ why didn’t the world ‘leave it’?” the prime minister asked.

The current deal would provide Iran with US $100 billion per year, Lapid said.

“This money will not build schools or hospitals,” he asserted. “This is a hundred billion dollars a year that will be used to undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe.

“This money will fund the [Islamic] Revolutionary Guard [Corps],” Lapid continued. “…It will fund more attacks on American bases in the Middle East. It will be used to strengthen Hezbollah, Hamas and [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad.”

Lapid also said the agreement will put pressure on the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to close a three-year-long investigation into traces of uranium found at undeclared nuclear sites in Iran, for which the regime has refused to give account.

Washington said Iran dropped this demand in its latest proposal, though Tehran has not confirmed that claim.

The prime minister added that Israel has “an open dialogue with the American administration on all matters of disagreement.

“I appreciate their willingness to listen and work together,” Lapid continued, adding that the US is Israel’s closest ally and that “President Biden is one of the best friends Israel has ever known.”

Despite the friendship, Israel’s Channel 13 news reported, citing unnamed Israeli officials, that Israel requested an emergency call between Lapid and Biden, which Biden’s office rejected, saying the president is out of town on vacation.

Lapid has also been in contact with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week about the ongoing talks.

“I told them these negotiations have reached the point where they must stop and say ‘enough,’” Lapid told the correspondents yesterday.

“All that being said, we have made it clear to everyone: If a deal is signed, it does not obligate Israel,” Lapid warned. “We will act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.

“We are not prepared to live with a nuclear threat above our heads from an extremist, violent Islamist regime,” Lapid concluded. “This will not happen. Because we will not let it happen.”

Meanwhile, Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata is in Washington this week and met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday to discuss the deal.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is also scheduled to travel to the US today to meet with CENTCOM Commander Gen. Michael Kurilla in Florida before heading to Washington on Friday to meet with Sullivan.

Gantz said his goal is to communicate that “an agreement that will not roll Iran’s capabilities back by years and leave it limited for many years is a danger that will harm world and regional security.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 25, 2022)

Photo Credit: geralt/pixabay.com

Photo License: Pixabay

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord that the nations will heed Prime Minister Lapid’s warnings and step away from a very bad agreement and further negotiations with a country that is a known supporter of terrorism in the Middle East and around the world. Beseech the Lord that the Biden administration will realize the absurdity of providing any money—let alone US $100 billion per year—to finance Iran’s stated objectives of creating chaos in the region and destroying the nation of Israel.

Scripture

For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more.


- Psalm 37:9–10a

Hezbollah Chief Greets Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader in Southern Lebanon

by JNS

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Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah (right) meets the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziad Al-Nakhalah, August 24, 2022.

Thursday, 25 August 2022 | Secretary-general of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah received the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Ziad Al-Nakhalah, in Beirut on Wednesday, reported Al-Manar.

The two sides discussed recent fighting in the Gaza Strip, and Judea and Samaria, according to the Hezbollah-run news outlet.

The two terrorist leaders “assessed the battle that took place … with respect to its unfolding on the field, political and media spheres. The various developments in the region, in addition to the parties’ roles in the upcoming phase, were also tackled and discussed,” wrote Al-Manar.

After the August 2 arrest of Bassem Al-Saadi, a senior member of PIJ in Samaria, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] initiated ”Operation Breaking Dawn” (August 5-7) against PIJ targets in Gaza. Israel killed two senior PIJ leaders and bombed numerous PIJ weapons-making and other facilities in the three-day operation, which was widely viewed as a success by Israel.

The Israeli military is currently on high alert in the north due to Nasrallah’s threats surrounding maritime talks between Lebanon and Israel.

He recently told the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen TV channel: “If the extraction of oil and gas from Karish begins in September before Lebanon obtains its right, we would be heading to a ‘problem,’ and we’ll do anything to achieve our objective.”

Both Hezbollah and PIJ are Iranian proxies. PIJ chief Al-Nakhalah visited Iran on August 2, meeting with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir-Abdollahian.

Nakhalah attended additional meetings before the IDF’s operation in Gaza began. On August 3, he met with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, chair of the Iranian parliament, and Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 24, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Hezbollah Media Relations Office/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for a rift that will bring the cooperation between PIJ and Hezbollah to an end, even as we pray for an end to Iranian support and influence for both terrorist organizations. Pray also that Nasrallah’s attempts to intimidate Israel regarding the Karish oil fields will fall on deaf ears and his threats will never be realized.

Scripture

Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor who seek after my life; let those be turned back and brought to confusion who plot my hurt.


- Psalm 35:4

Russian Court Delays Verdict on Shuttering Jewish Agency for 30 Days

by JNS

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

Monday, 22 August 2022 | Moscow’s Basmanny District Court during a hearing over the weekend postponed by 30 days its verdict on whether to shutter the Jewish Agency for Israel’s operations in Russia, according to Russian media.

Russia claims that the Jewish Agency, which helps Jews immigrate to Israel, broke laws by collecting private data on Russian citizens.

The reports said that Jewish Agency lawyers asked for the additional time in order to gather evidence that the organization had not violated any laws, and to outline steps already taken to modify its activities in accordance with Russian Justice Ministry directives.

During a special meeting held in Israel on July 24 to discuss the matter, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that “closing the Jewish Agency offices would be a serious event that would affect relations.”

An Israeli delegation left for Russia thereafter following a significant delay caused by Moscow’s apparent unwillingness to issue entry visas.

Most analysts believe that Russia’s move against the Jewish Agency is either meant to punish Israel for speaking out against the invasion of Ukraine, or a pressure tactic aimed at dissuading Jerusalem from taking more concrete action in support of Kiev.

Source: (This article was originally published by Jewish News Syndicate on August 21, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Photographer RM/Shutterstock/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that this issue will be resolved quickly. Ask the Lord to protect the Jewish Agency from closure and pray for wisdom for its lawyers as they strategize ways to continue the work of the agency while remaining within Russian Justice Ministry directives. Pray that the Jews of Russia will not be prevented from returning to their ancient homeland.

Scripture

I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.


- Isaiah 46:4b

Packed Israeli Bus in Samaria Targeted by Gunfire from Palestinian Village

by JNS

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An Israeli bus came under fire from the Arab village of Silwad while traveling on Route 60 in Judea and Samaria. (Bullet holes circled in red.)

Monday, 22 August 2022 | Suspected Palestinian terrorists fired on a crowded Israeli bus in Judea and Samaria on Saturday night, according to the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], shortly after another incident in which three Arab women in possession of a submachine gun and a suicide note were arrested at a checkpoint.

The bus was traveling along the north-south Route 60 highway when it was fired upon from the Palestinian village of Silwad, which is located near the Jewish community of Ofra, the IDF said in a statement.

No casualties were reported and a manhunt was launched to apprehend the perpetrators, the military added.

“On the way down from Ofra I was driving at a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) and suddenly I heard a tak, tak, tak. I told people to ‘get down,’ I thought it was a stone,” the bus driver, identified only as N., told Channel 12 on Sunday morning.

“Thank God I have a bulletproof bus. The police and soldiers arrived. I was a little scared,” he said.

At least eight bullets hit the bus, according to a statement by the Binyamin Regional Council.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities earlier in the evening foiled a potential attack when they arrested three Palestinian women who aroused suspicion at the Eliyahu checkpoint in Samaria.

A makeshift submachine gun, known as a “Carlo,” and a suicide note were reportedly found in their car.

Local media reported that the note outlined their desire to die while carrying out a terror attack against Israelis.

Source: (Excerpt from article originally published by Jewish News Syndicate on August 21, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israeli Hatzalah/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Plead with the Lord for an end to this violence. Thank Him that there were no injuries in these two incidents, but cry out to Him for an end to the hatred that fuels these attacks. Pray for many Palestinian voices to be raised, demanding leadership that will truly seek peace and an end to decades of terror.

Scripture

Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil.


- Psalm 121:4–7a

German Police Investigate PA President for Incitement over Holocaust Comment

by Joshua Spurlock

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Emblem of the Berlin police

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 | Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s claim that Israel had launched “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians—while he was speaking at a press conference in Germany—has led to more than condemnation. It has also resulted in a criminal investigation by the police. The Independent reported over the weekend that Berlin police confirmed a preliminary investigation for possible incitement to hatred has been opened against the Palestinian leader after a criminal complaint was lodged, following an earlier report by the German newspaper Bild.

Minimizing the Holocaust is a criminal offense in Germany, where Hitler launched the genocide that ultimately killed six million Jews during World War II. The article noted that the investigation is in a preliminary stage—not a full one—and regardless the German Foreign Ministry confirmed in the Independent’s report that Abbas won’t be eligible for prosecution for the crime as he has immunity as an official foreign visitor.

Nonetheless, the investigation adds further weight to the incident, which has led to not one but two condemnations by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. After a prior strong statement on Twitter, Scholz posted another one on Thursday recapping a call with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. In the tweet, translated into English by Google Translate, the German leader “assured him of the close partnership between Germany and #Israel. Our stance is clear, we condemn any attempt to deny or relativize the Holocaust.”

Israel released their own summary of the call, noting that Scholz “emphasized that he rejects and condemns Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s remarks, and that it was important for him to clarify this personally to the prime minister, as well as publicly.”

Lapid, who the press release noted is the son of Holocaust survivors, thanked Scholz. “The two emphasized the importance of ties between Israel and Germany, and agreed to continue the cooperation between their two countries in various fields,” said the Israeli statement.

While Germany has sought to distance itself from Abbas’ outrageous comments—which Abbas has since tried to refine by noting the “singularity” and extreme severity of the Holocaust according to a report by the WAFA news agency—other Palestinians have instead been angered by what they claim is an ongoing “campaign of incitement” against Abbas. Mahmoud al-Aloul, the deputy head of Abbas’ Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] political faction, was quoted in a separate WAFA article as telling Voice of Palestine radio that the “incitement” against Abbas is “due to his strong adherence to the issues and constants of our people,” implying it wasn’t due to Abbas’ trivialization of the Holocaust.

Wasel Abu Yousef—an official in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the group that represents the Palestinians in international affairs—claimed in the WAFA report the anti-Abbas efforts are intended to hide alleged crimes committed by Israel.

The Palestinian officials in the so-called moderate political groups had good company in their defense of Abbas after his Holocaust comments: Hamas joined in too. In a press statement posted to the Hamas website, [m]ember of Hamas Political Bureau Husam Badran condemned the German police’s announcement of an investigation into Abbas.

The official in the Palestinian terrorist organization claimed “world powers prove their bias towards” Israel with the move. He ended the statement by calling for national unity for Palestinians behind a program “based on comprehensive resistance to confront” Israel. The term “resistance” can refer to both political efforts and terrorism.

On the other hand, Germany wasn’t the only nation to condemn Abbas’ words. The United States did too, and underscored the significance of comments such as the ones made by Abbas.

“Not only of course is it a lie, but we know that Holocaust distortion can have dangerous consequences and can fuel anti-Semitism. We have seen that throughout the course of history,” said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price in comments to the press last Wednesday that were republished by the Department.

“We recognize that President Abbas today has, quote, reaffirmed that the Holocaust is ‘the most heinous crime’ in modern history, and we reject any attempts to draw false equivalencies or to minimize Holocaust atrocities.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on August 21, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Der Polizeipräsident in Berlin/en.wikipedia.org 

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that other nations will join ranks with Germany and the US in condemning PA President Abbas’s outrageous remarks. Also pray that the Lord will open channels of communication that will make it possible for the Palestinian people to hear the truth of matters like this and not be restricted to a steady diet of lies and propaganda.

Scripture

Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!


- Psalm 43:1

Shin Bet Chief Meets Egyptian Spymaster amid Row over Israeli Raid

by JNS

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Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) director Ronen Bar outside his home in Rishpon, central Israel, Oct. 11, 2021.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 | Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Ronen Bar traveled to Egypt on Sunday amid an apparent row with Cairo over an Israeli counter-terrorism raid in Judea and Samaria that came less than 48 hours after a ceasefire was forged to end the latest conflict with Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ], local media reported.

Bar reportedly met with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, after Cairo expressed anger over an Israeli raid on August 9 in Nablus that killed wanted Palestinian terrorist Ibrahim Nabulsi during an hours-long gun battle.

According to the reports, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid had assured Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that Jerusalem would curtail its military activities in Judea and Samaria in the wake of the Egyptian-mediated truce that ended “Operation Breaking Dawn” on August 7.

The three-day conflict, in which Gaza Strip-based terrorists fired some 1,100 projectiles at the Jewish state, was partially precipitated by the arrest on August 1 during an Israeli mission in Jenin of Bassam al-Sa’adi, who leads PIJ in Judea and Samaria and is suspected of building terror cells in the area.

The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] announced on Sunday that it would formally indict Sa’adi on charges including membership in a terror group, perpetrating terrorist acts, and incitement to violence.

Concerned about potential reprisals following Sa’adi’s arrest, the IDF subsequently shut down much of the country’s south. Tensions eventually boiled over and the IDF initiated “Operation Breaking Dawn” to preempt an imminent PIJ attack.

The day after the ceasefire was brokered, Egyptian Ambassador to the United Nations Osama Abdel Khalek surprised many by ripping into Israel during an emergency session at the Security Council.

Abdel Khalek made no mention of PIJ during his address, labeling all Gazans killed in the fighting as “martyrs” with no differentiation between terrorists and civilians.

He also said that Israel was “fully responsible” for “occupied” Gaza, despite the IDF having withdrawn from the Palestinian enclave in 2005 and even as Egypt currently maintains a security blockade on the territory similar to the Jewish state’s.

Bar’s reported visit on Sunday was not confirmed by official sources in Israel or Egypt.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on August 22, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Flash 90/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Osama Abdel Khalek will be removed from his position at the United Nations and replaced with an Egyptian ambassador who speaks the truth and recognizes the importance of the relationship between Egypt and Israel in fighting terror and maintaining stability in the region.

Scripture

But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.


- Psalm 37:38

Bank of Israel Raises Interest Rate to 2% in Steepest One-time Hike in 20 Years

by Gad Lior~Ynet

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Bank of Israel headquarters in Jerusalem

Wednesday, 24 August 2022 | Coming off another alarming inflation report in July, the Bank of Israel announced on Monday it will raise its benchmark interest rate by 0.75% to a full 2%, the steepest one-time hike in 20 years, in a bid to blunt fast-rising inflation that has reached 5.2% over the past 12 months.

This hike, which brings the central bank’s interest rate to its highest level since December 2012, deals a particularly painful wallop to mortgage and loan holders as the prime lending rate will jump to 3.5% starting Thursday, more than double its level in April.

It is the fourth rate jump in as many months, increasing the key rate twentyfold in total from an all-time low of 0.1% in April.

“The Israeli economy is seeing strong economic activity, accompanied by a tight labor market in a rising inflationary environment,” a statement issued by the central bank read.

“That is why the [Monetary C]ommittee decided to continue the process of raising the interest rate. The scale of the interest rate increase will be determined according to the activity data and the development of inflation, this in order to continue and support the achievement of policy goals.”

With these successive rate increases, the Bank of Israel is seeking to restrict the economy’s money supply by making borrowing less attractive and cutting high consumer demand.

Last week, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reported that the consumer price index in Israel rose by 1.1% in the month of July, bringing the country’s annual inflation rate to 5.2%, well over the central bank’s upper inflation target of 3%.

Housing prices increased by 2% between May and June 2022, completing a whopping 17.8% increase compared to the same time last year.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on August 22, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ester Inbar available from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:ST

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that Israel continues to have one of the strongest economies on the globe. Pray that the Jewish state’s leaders will make whatever decisions are necessary to stave off inflation. Also cry out to Him that His love and faithfulness will be revealed through His blessings to His chosen nation.

Scripture

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth.


- Psalm 108:5

Federal Judge Denies Ben & Jerry’s Bid to Stop Sales in Judea and Samaria

by JNS

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Ben & Jerry’s products on the shelf of a grocery store.

Wednesday, 24 August 2022 | The attempt by ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s to stop sales of its products in Judea and Samaria was rejected Monday by a federal judge, reported Reuters.

Ben & Jerry’s brought the lawsuit on July 5 against its parent company Unilever after the latter announced it would sell the rights to produce its dessert products in Israel to American Quality Products Ltd. Owned by Israeli businessman Avi Zinger, American Quality Products has produced and delivered Ben & Jerry’s products in Israel for decades.

In the lawsuit, the Ben & Jerry’s board argued that the transfer breached a deal between them and Unilever because it circumvented the ice-cream company’s decision to end sales in what it considers “occupied Palestinian territory.”

Ben & Jerry’s claimed that to sell its products in Judea and Samaria is inconsistent with its values.

Source: (This article was originally published by Jewish News Syndicate on August 22, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock/JNS.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this decision that will allow Avi Zinger to distribute Ben & Jerry’s products in Judea and Samaria. Pray that this will bring the ice cream wars to end—once and for all.

Scripture

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous.


- Proverbs 21:15a (ESV)