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Friday, December 6, 2019

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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.

Israeli Coalition Talks Stumble Again

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Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz and members of his party

Wednesday, 04 December 2019 | What Happened: Israel’s political impasse shows no sign of a solution ahead of the December 11 deadline for the dissolution of the Knesset [Parliament], with Likud and Blue and White yesterday exchanging recriminations about who was to blame.

  • The major stumbling blocks remain the same: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that he serve first in any premiership rotation agreement, as well as Likud’s demand that its right-wing and ultra-Orthodox allies be part of any national unity government.
  • Blue and White rejected the idea of Netanyahu remaining prime minister, even for six months, given his recent indictments on corruption charges. Blue and White argue that party leader Benny Gantz should serve as prime minister for the first two years, with Netanyahu rotating in for the last two years, contingent on his criminal cases being resolved.
  • Netanyahu has argued that he should remain prime minister in order to take advantage of “historic opportunities,” primarily annexation of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and signing a mutual defense pact with the US.
  • Blue and White last night rejected the idea of a defense pact with the US, arguing that for decades Israeli security officials opposed such a move because it could limit Israeli military action.

Context: Amidst the political wrangling, legal officials submitted a formal letter of indictment to Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, signaling the start of a 30-day period during which Benjamin Netanyahu can request parliamentary immunity from the Knesset.

  • The Knesset’s legal advisor said there was no obstacle to convening the Knesset House Committee to deliberate on the matter, although what happens if the Knesset disperses prior to the full 30-day period elapsing is open to legal interpretation.
  • The Yisrael Beitenu party said it would not support granting the prime minister parliamentary immunity—ruling out Netanyahu winning a majority for such a move. Netanyahu has in the past said he would not seek immunity for his legal troubles.
  • The full indictment letter listed 333 witnesses against Netanyahu in his three corruption cases, including fellow politicians, security officials and various foreign billionaires including Arnon Milchan, James Packer, Larry Ellison and Sheldon Adelson. Netanyahu used the occasion to once again blast legal authorities, arguing that any case dependent on so many witnesses was by definition weak. 

Looking Ahead: A senior Blue and White figure said today that another election—the country’s third in a year—was looking increasingly likely.

  • The Central Elections Committee ruled yesterday that if the Knesset is dissolved next week, the earliest date the repeat poll could be held is on February 25,
  • The Likud Central Committee is due to meet tomorrow for a crucial session on whether a party leadership primary will be held ahead of any general election. A motion to that effect has yet to be officially put on the agenda.
  • Supporters of Netanyahu rival Gideon Saar, who first raised the demand, have threatened to boycott the meeting if no vote on a leadership primary takes place.

Source: (Bicom originally published this article on December 3, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Amirosan/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord on behalf of His people, reminding Him of His promises to be their shield and defender. He is the One who has promised to set governments in place, and Israel is in desperate need of His intervention to install the leader that will have the strength and character to lead His nation at this critical time in history.

Scripture

He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.


- 1 Samuel 2:10b

Netanyahu Heads to NATO Summit for Urgent Iran Talks

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The interior of the NATO building.

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 | Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning a last minute trip to London to meet leaders attending the NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] summit and urge action on Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear deal.

US President Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Netanyahu yesterday and the White House said they discussed Iran and other critical bilateral and regional issues.

Netanyahu yesterday heavily criticized six European countries for joining INSTEX [The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges], a financial mechanism set up by France, the UK and Germany to circumvent US sanctions on Iran. He said: “They should be ashamed of themselves.”

INSTEX was created to enable Iran to sell oil in exchange for imported goods and avoid US sanctions. Although the so-called E3 (UK, France and Germany) have been working on the project, it has taken a long time to become operational and Iran has been heavily critical of the lack of European action to facilitate trade after heavy US sanctions.

The E3 issued a statement, as founding shareholders of INSTEX, warmly welcoming the decision taken by Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, to join INSTEX as shareholders. They said: “This step further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran and is a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).” But the E3 said: “Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA without delay” and repeated their willingness to “Consider all mechanisms in the JCPOA, including the dispute resolution mechanism, to resolve the issues related to Iran’s implementation of its JCPOA commitments.”

In November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Iran’s fourth violation of the JCPOA by confirming Iran would begin injecting uranium hexafluoride gas into the up-to-then dormant 1,044 centrifuges at the Fordow facility.

On 9 November the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Iran was enriching uranium at its underground Fordow facility and rapidly accelerating enrichment more broadly, in clear violation of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. The IAEA said Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium had grown to 372 kilograms [820 lb]—which marks the addition of 130 kilograms [286 lb] since the IAEA’s last quarterly report in late August, and exceeds a 300-kilogram [661-lb] cap on Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium set by the JCPOA.

Rafael Grossi, an Argentinian diplomat, will today begin work as the new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Violent protests have continued in Iran and, according to Amnesty International, 161 demonstrators have been killed. The New York Times reported yesterday that Iranian forces have killed between 40 and 100 civilians with machine gun fire in one incident in a marsh near the city of Mahshahr.

 The NATO Leaders Meeting starts on December 3, with key events taking place on December 4.

Netanyahu is reportedly seeking meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, French President Emanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Netanyahu will express Israel’s deep concern about Iranian activity in Syria and repeated violations of the nuclear deal.

The NATO summit is expected to be a feisty affair. President Macron told the Economist in early November that NATO was “brain dead” and in response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Macron was in a state of “brain death” for his comments. Turkey is likely to be criticized for its recent invasion of Syria and the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

The US position on Iran has not changed, as it continues to apply heavy pressure via sanctions but is reluctant to respond with military force to recent events such as the attack on Saudi oil fields and the shooting down of a US drone. The E3 have moved closer to the US position by calling for fresh talks on a new comprehensive agreement, but is still committed to the Iran nuclear deal, albeit condemning Iran for its violations and considering use of the dispute mechanism within the deal.

Source: (Bicom originally published this article on December 2, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Swadim/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord that global leaders will heed PM Netanyahu’s warnings regarding Iran and its nuclear strategy. Pray that INSTEX will be dissolved before it is able to undermine the efforts of the US to force Iran into compliance.

Scripture

It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.


- Proverbs 12:15

Study Ranks Israel amongst the Eight Most Powerful Countries in the World

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Israel is among the eight most powerful countries in the world.

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 | A new study by the University of Pennsylvania places Israel among the eight most powerful countries in the world, a testament to Israel’s strong standing in the international arena.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz said: “The new study faithfully reflects a rise in Israel’s international standing in the world, and places it as a significant global force in the fields of defense, economics and foreign policy.

“The Foreign Ministry under my leadership will continue to work to advance Israel’s national interests in the world, to expand its foreign relations and to strengthen the status of Jerusalem, our capital. “

Source: (This press release was originally published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 2, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Cpl. Yoav Pinus, IDF Spokesperson's Unit/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the international recognition that Israel is receiving and for her standing as a power and a player on the world stage. Pray that He will continually remind Israel’s leaders and citizens that He alone is the true source of their strength and success.

Scripture

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.


- Psalm 20:7

Israel Welcomes Bolivian Decision to Reestablish Diplomatic Relations

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Foreign Minister Israel Katz welcomed the renewal as a move that will strengthen Israel’s overall foreign relations and standing in the world.

Friday, 29 November 2019 | Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz:

“I welcome the announcement of the government of Bolivia regarding its intent to re-establish diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. This will contribute to the strengthening of the State of Israel’s foreign relations and its standing in the world.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has actively worked for a long period of time to promote the renewal of the relationship, also with the help of the Brazilian president and minister of foreign affairs, with whom I recently spoke on the subject at the UN Conference in New York.

“The departure of President Morales, who was hostile to Israel, and his replacement by a government friendly to Israel, allows the fruition of the process.”

Source: (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs originally published this article on November 28, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: םרית ןושש/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for Bolivia’s decision to reestablish diplomatic relations with Israel. Pray that this partnership will be beneficial for both nations, helping to strengthen Israel’s international role while bringing great blessing to the people of Bolivia.

Scripture

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”


- Genesis 12:3

Attorney General Submits Netanyahu’s Indictment

by Tova Tzimuki

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Tuesday, 03 December 2019 | Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Monday officially submitted to Knesset [Parliament] Speaker Yuli Edelstein the indictment drawn up by his office against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for fraud, bribery and breach of trust over three separate cases.

Netanyahu now has 30 days to request parliamentary immunity, a period that expires on January 1, 2020.

While the prime minister has 30 days to submit his request, the committee that decides whether or not grant immunity, the Knesset House Committee, is not sitting as there is no government.

Furthermore, according to Knesset legal advisor Eyal Yinon, there is no requirement to appoint members of this committee until a new government has been sworn in.

In his letter to Edelstein, Mandelblit wrote that Netanyahu’s trial will take place at the Jerusalem District Court and that a date has been set for the proceedings, but has not yet made public.

There will be an estimated 333 witnesses called during the trial, Mandelblit wrote. The attorney general announced on November 21 that his office would indict Netanyahu in the three separate cases.

Israeli law dictates that a prime minister must resign from office if convicted, but there is less clarity concerning a pending trial.

As Israel faces a political gridlock—with the prospect of a third election growing ever likely—Israel’s Supreme Court will likely be called upon to decide whether Netanyahu will need to step down from office.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on December 2, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: US Department of State/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that God’s justice will be done in this situation. If this is in fact a baseless attack on PM Netanyahu by his political enemies, pray that the truth will quickly come to light. Beseech the Lord that His nation will be led by men and women of integrity.

Scripture

For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity.


- Psalm 125:3

France Rules Anti-Zionism Form of Modern Anti-Semitism

by Itamar Eichner

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French President Emmanuel Macron

Wednesday, 04 December 2019 | The French National Assembly has passed a bill on Tuesday which rules that anti-Zionism is a modern form of anti-Semitism, with 154 lawmakers voting in favor of the bill while 72 voted against.

The bill has undergone several changes in recent months in the light of a heated public debate on the matter, and has been softened and approved as a declarative decision only, and not as part of the country’s penal code.

The bill was promoted following a host of anti-Semitic acts committed in France over the past year, including 107 tombstones that were vandalized on Tuesday in a Jewish cemetery near the eastern city of Strasbourg.

French President Emmanuel Macron has pushed a similar notion back in February this year.

“Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism,” the French leader said in Paris at a dinner of Jewish umbrella organization CRIF. “Behind the negation of Israel’s existence, what is hiding is the hatred of Jews.”

The bill was due in May, but despite Macron’s public statement, the voting on the bill was postponed several times.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz lauded the French parliament’s decision to recognize anti-Zionism is a modern form of anti-Semitism.

“I intend on continuing to act for more countries to understand and support the definition of anti-Israelism and hatred of Israel as anti-Semitism,” said Katz. “This is an important step in the battle against anti-Semitism and I call for other countries to go in France’s footsteps.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also praised the bill and asked to keep actively acting against the anti-Israeli BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement.

“Anti-Semitic content is published under the false cover of political criticism that poisons the discourse and rules out Israel’s existence as a Jewish state,” said Erdan. “We expect seeing more practical steps on behalf of the French government against the BDS movement and anti-Semitic activists spreading hate against Israel and the Jews in France.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on December 3, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: The White House/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this important decision. Pray that He will strengthen France’s efforts to educate their citizens regarding anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and that other nations of the world will follow suit. Ask the Lord to protect His people who are suffering under anti-Semitism in many parts of the world.

Scripture

“I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:21

Hamas to Renew Gaza Border Protests Despite Talks with Israel

by Elior Levy

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The March of Return protest on the Gaza border in 2018

Thursday, 05 December 2019 | Hamas has called on the Gaza Strip residents to come out in droves for a demonstration against Israel on Friday as March of Return protests are expected to be renewed after a three-week hiatus.

On Tuesday, leaflets published by the terror group began circulating among the residents of the coastal enclave. The leaflets appear to be violent in nature, with black smoke and images of blood splattered across.

The protest would be the first since the latest flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Strip (dubbed in Israel as “Operation Black Belt”). The cross-border round of fighting was sparked by the targeted killing of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata in a predawn Israeli airstrike.

Hamas appeared to have stayed largely out of the fighting, while Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli population centers, while the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] responded with retaliatory airstrikes on the terror group’s militants and infrastructure. Egyptian mediators managed to broker a ceasefire between the two sides two days later.

Last Friday afternoon, 16-year-old Palestinian Fahed al-Astal died after he was shot in the stomach by IDF troops during an unsanctioned protest along the border fence. Four other people were wounded, according to Gaza officials.

The five hurled improvised explosive devices at the IDF troops.

The protest took place despite Hamas’s decision to suspend the weekly March of Return demonstration for the third consecutive week, in line with Israel’s request as part of the negotiations for a sustained period of calm in Gaza.

A member of the March of Return steering committee said after the death of the teen that Israel was responsible for the loss of life and called on protesters to turn out for a demonstration the following week.

The IDF said the claims regarding the circumstances of the boy’s death would be investigated, adding that dozens of rioters had arrived the border independently, tried to sabotage the fence and threw explosives at the IDF troops there.

Meanwhile, Beirut-based newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Wednesday that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala met to discuss their understandings on the removal of the blockade over the Gaza Strip.

The meetings will go on for several days under the inspection and brokerage of the Egyptian intelligence. Every Palestinian faction will first meet with the Egyptian intelligence separately and collectively later.

Al-Akhbar, which is considered very close to Hamas, also reported that UN [United Nations] special envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov is expected to meet in the coming days with the Hamas leadership in order to complete the negotiations on the ceasefire arrangement with Israel.

Mladenov and Hamas leadership will also discuss the possibility of reaching a long-term settlement agreement with Israel, which will include a solution to the most pressing issues—including the two Israeli captives and bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers held by Hamas and easing of the blockade on the Strip.

Meanwhile, Qatar reportedly considers equipping the Gaza power station with a direct gas line to produce electricity and to transfer US $25 million to the Israel Electric Corporation.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on December 4, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Fars News Agency/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Plead with the Lord for an end to this futile violence. Pray that any demonstration on the Gaza border will remain peaceful, and ask the Lord for His supernatural protection over the IDF and the citizens of southern Israel, particularly the children, who have suffered so much at the hands of terrorists.

Scripture

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloodthirsty men.


- Psalm 59:1–2

New US Ambassador to UN to Visit Israel

by Itamar Eichner

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Kelly Craft, the newly appointed US ambassador to the UN.

Monday, 2 December 2019 | The newly appointed US ambassador to the UN [United Nations], Kelly Craft, is expected to arrive for an official visit to Israel in January.

Arrangements are being made for the ambassador to meet with state and defense officials in Israel.

Craft is expected to visit the Western Wall and the northern and southern border regions, where she will be briefed about the activities of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Dani Danon, will escort Craft on her visit.

After serving as the US ambassador to Canada since 2016, she was offered the new position by President Donald Trump, replacing Nikki Haley.

After receiving the position in September, Craft was quoted as saying that “Israel is deep in my heart.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Ynetnews on December 1, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: United States Department of State/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for UN Ambassador Craft and her visit to Israel. Thank the Lord that the US has again chosen a UN ambassador who “has Israel in her heart.” Pray that she will follow in the footsteps of her predecessor and be a strong ally for Israel in the UN.

Scripture

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered.


- Psalm 108:5–6a

Cold and Alone, Israel’s Poverty-stricken Elderly Brace for Winter

by Amir Alon

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Bridges for Peace volunteers distributing warm blankets to Holocaust survivors

Friday, 29 November 2019 | Although the quality of care and assistance received by elderly Israelis has improved, there are still hundreds of old men and women who will spend the coming winter shivering and alone in their meager homes, with no heat, no nutritional food and nothing to ease the harshness of the cold season.

The number of impoverished senior citizens in the country has been dropping every year. Still the risk of living below the poverty line for Israelis over the age of 65 is higher than the average for most OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries.

In addition, at least 23% of Israel’s elderly population appear to live completely alone.

According to the Israeli Center for Legal Guardianship [ICLG]—a public trust that helps the impoverished elderly in all walks of life based on their needs and financial situation—there are thousands of Israelis for whom the winter is nothing but a reoccurring nightmare.

65-year-old M. resides in a small apartment in Jerusalem. He has a mental disability, and after the death of his parents and siblings he was appointed a guardian from the ICLG.

He lives in constant fear of winter. Last year, he says, was particularly difficult and he fears he would not be able to survive another cold season.

His windows and shutters are broken and fail to keep the freezing Jerusalem wind at bay while the damp and mold on the walls endanger his health further.

“I am cold to my bones,” he says despite the blankets he piles on to cover himself at night. “I’m afraid of going to sleep because I’m not sure I will wake up in the morning.”

M. says he finds it hard to think of anything else when he is cold. “My teeth chatter and my fingers and toes freeze.”

Shmuel, 70, also lives in Jerusalem. He emigrated from Iraq in the 1990s and is estranged from his family.

Shmuel lives on a modest pension provided by the state.

“When I look at my home, I wonder why I have to live like this, it is torture,” Shmuel says.

“Last winter the apartment would flood every time it rained, and I would wake up wet in my bed. I am ashamed of how I live,” he adds.

Shmuel explains that feeling cold is worse than being hungry. “It is humiliating, and I am feeling hopeless, and you cannot live without hope,” he says.

R., 68, is also finding winters too hard to handle. The resident of the central city of Bat-Yam is divorced and estranged from her only son, making winters an emotional challenge.

Her walls and windows are exposed to the elements, and she cannot heat her home. She says that despite the hardships she tries to stay optimistic.

“Elderly live in fear that any kind of rain could flood their homes,” says Uriel Lederberg who heads the ICLG. “And, any wind gust could lower the already low temperatures they are living in.”

Bridges for Peace donates much-needed items to new immigrants who are coming to Israel—often from poor countries—and bring very little with them. Through our Immigrant Welcome Gifts program, we provide blankets to keep them warm, utensils, pots and pans and several other necessities to ensure they have the basic items they need to settle into their new home. Donate now to help us continue to bless the Israeli people.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Ynetnews on November 28, 2019. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to God on behalf of these elderly citizens of Israel who are alone and in great need. Pray that Christians will give generously to Bridges for Peace as we work to bring comfort, companionship and badly needed supplies to these who are the apple of God’s eye.

Scripture

Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.


- Isaiah 49:13

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