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Friday, February 24, 2023

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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 Forces Clash with Palestinian Gunmen during Nablus Raid

by Einav Halabi, Elisha Ben Kimon, Gilad Cohen and Matan Tzuri ~ Ynet

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IDF special forces train in various types of terrain to ensure they are ready for any enemy threat. (illustrative)

Thursday, 23 February 2023 | Israeli forces came under heavy fire from Palestinian gunmen during a counterterrorism operation in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] city of Nablus on Wednesday as they were locked in a standoff with two wanted persons who barricaded themselves in a home in the city’s historical quarter.

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that 11 people were killed, including the two suspects, and at least 100 were wounded as a result of gunfire and tear gas inhalation. The Israeli military did not report any casualties.

Footage from the scene showed smoke billowing from the Old City area.

Last week, IDF [Israel Defense Forces] forces arrested two Palestinian suspects during an overnight raid in Nablus for allegedly carrying out the fatal shooting attack that killed First Sergeant Ido Baruch last October.

The militants opened fire at the forces and the troops returned fire. Two suspects were injured in the ensuing shootout. They were later arrested and identified as Abd al-Kamel Juri and Usama Tawil.

During a search of the suspects’ hideout, forces seized firearms and ammunition that were likely used by the suspects to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

Earlier this week, the Israeli government agreed to not authorize any new settler [Israelis living in Judea and Samaria] outposts in the coming months except for the nine it legalized last week in return for the Palestinian mission to the United Nations withdrawing a Security Council draft resolution condemning Jerusalem’s West Bank settlement push.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed the agreement and notified US officials. However, a statement reaffirmed that “Israel did not commit to stop demolishing illegal [Palestinian] buildings in Area C,” referring to a part of the West Bank administered by Israel.

The Israeli government also announced last week that it will advance plans for some 10,000 new homes in established West Bank settlements, framing the measures as a response to a series of Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem.

The Security Council issued on Monday a watered-down denouncement of settlement activity, which Netanyahu slammed as “one-sided” and criticized the United States for supporting it.

Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Ynetnews on February 22, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray for all members of the IDF as they face life and death situations on a daily basis. Ask the Lord to guide them as they enter dangerous areas and give them wisdom as they conduct counterterrorism operations. Cry out to the Lord for calm to settle over Judea and Samaria, making such actions unnecessary.


“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

- Isaiah 41:10

Report: Netanyahu Preparing Israel for Military Action against Iran

by Kate Norman

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Thursday, 23 February 2023 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly held five secret meetings with top Israeli military and defense officials to discuss preparations for a strike against Iran’s nuclear development program, Channel 12 reported Tuesday.

The prime minister met with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) chief David Barnea, Miliary Intelligence chief Aharon Haliva and other top military and defense officials, according to the unsourced report.

Netanyahu has vowed in the past to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon regardless of any nuclear deal between the Islamic regime and world powers.

On Tuesday night, the prime minister repeated his warning that Iran’s race to the nuclear bomb is an existential threat and that the Jewish state will stop that from happening.

“The only thing that has credibly stopped rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons is a credible military threat or a credible military action,” Netanyahu said while participating in a panel at the Hertog National Security Conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. “You can couple that with crippling economic sanctions, but that’s not a sufficient condition. A necessary condition, and an often sufficient condition, is credible military action.

“The longer you wait, the harder that becomes,” Netanyahu continued. “We’ve waited very long.”

And as the clock continues ticking, centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear development sites continue spinning uranium to higher and higher levels of purity, inching closer to the 90% purity necessary for a nuclear weapon.

UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovered uranium enriched to 84% purity in Iran, Bloomberg reported on Sunday, just shy of the 90% nuclear threshold.

Netanyahu repeated his warning at the panel on Tuesday, which also included former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman: “I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“That is not merely an Israeli interest,” Netanyahu added. “It’s an American interest; it’s in the interest of the entire world.”

Netanyahu reportedly shared the result of his secret meetings with Israel’s top military and defense officials with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, Channel 12 reported.

Regardless of where the rest of the world stands, Netanyahu has made it clear that the Jewish state will not stand by and watch the seconds tick by while Tehran continues its race to a nuclear bomb, which would not only be a threat to Israel, but to the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 23, 2023)

Photo Credit: World Economic Forum / Valeriano Di Domenico/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an end to the Iranian nuclear threat. But beseech the Lord for wisdom, clarity and the cooperation of the international community as Israel considers military action against the global threat of a nuclear Iran.


“Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish. You shall seek them and not find them—those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing.“

- Isaiah 41:11–12

Reformed Moroccan Textbooks Embrace Jewish Life

by JNS

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A Jewish boy hosts his Muslim friends for Shabbat dinner, as seen in a Moroccan school textbook.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023 | Peace and tolerance are central themes in the Moroccan curriculum and promoted in textbooks across multiple grades and subjects, a new report finds.

“Students learn about practical conflict resolution, and Islamic scripture is used to highlight religious tolerance and peacemaking,” a summary of the document states.

The report also found that Morocco’s Jewish community is treated with sympathy and respect in textbooks. The Jewish community is represented as an “inseparable part of Morocco,” and government efforts “to preserve Jewish heritage are highlighted.”

Marcus Sheff, CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), said: “We are struck by this unique embrace of Jews and Judaism in the reformed Moroccan school curriculum, a project of King Mohammed VI.

“The affection through which Morocco’s Jewish community and its customs are represented as well as the lives of individual Moroccan Jews is heart-warming. We are welcomed into the homes of the Jewish community through the textbooks and learn that Jews are entwined in the national and cultural fabric of Morocco,” he added.

Among the positive depictions are a Jewish boy hosting his Muslim friends for Shabbat [Sabbath] dinner; a Jewish family hosting guests for Mimouna, a festival held by Moroccan Jews on the evening and day after Passover; a sixth-grade text introducing Bayt Dakira (“the House of Memory”), a museum for Jewish heritage located in Essaouira, a city in Morocco known until the 1960s as Mogador; and a fourth-grade Arabic textbook teaching about the importance of Jewish Moroccan music to Moroccan musical tradition.

The report evaluated 127 textbooks published by the Ministry of Education between 2013 and 2022. It was prepared by IMPACT-se, a research and policy institute that analyzes curricula around the world, in collaboration with the Jeffrey M. Talpins Foundation and its president, Oren Eisner.

Eisner said, “We would like to thank the entire team at IMPACT-se for their groundbreaking work on the Moroccan curriculum. And we of course want to thank the Kingdom of Morocco for taking steps to improve its curriculum, spread tolerance and understanding throughout the Middle East, and better prepare the next generation of Moroccans to succeed in the jobs of the future.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 21, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of IMPACT-se/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the bold steps the Kingdom of Morocco has taken in honoring the Jewish community in its educational programming and for encouraging tolerance and understanding among its students. Ask the Lord for His blessings on Morocco in keeping with His promises, and pray that other nations in the region will follow suit.


Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.

- Proverbs 12:22

Israel Hits Hamas Assets in Gaza after Terrorists Fire Six Rockets at Israel

by JNS

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Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepts rockets from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Sderot.

Thursday, 23 February 2023 | The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] struck Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip overnight Wednesday, after Palestinian terrorists fired a barrage of rockets at southern Israel.

Fighter jets struck a Hamas arms manufacturing facility in central Gaza, as well as a military compound in the northern Strip used to store naval weapons, according to the military.

“The compound is built near a mosque, a clinic, a school, a hotel and a police station. This is further proof that the Hamas terrorist organization is placing its military assets in the heart of the civilian population,” the IDF said in a statement.

“This attack is a significant blow to Hamas’s ability to fortify and arm itself. The terrorist organization bears responsibility for Gaza and will pay the price for security violations against the State of Israel,” added the military.

The strikes came after Palestinian terrorists fired six rockets at southern Israel, including Ashkelon.

Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepted five of the rockets, with the remaining one landing in an open area, according to the military.

The exchange came after 11 Palestinians were killed and dozens more wounded in a gun battle that erupted when Israeli forces came under fire on Wednesday during an arrest operation in Nablus.

IDF fighters were attacked by gunmen after surrounding a building in the kasbah [Old City] in the center of the Palestinian Authority [PA]-run city in Samaria in which three terrorists, the targets of the operation, had holed up.

Soldiers surrounded a home where the wanted terrorists, members of the Lions’ Den terrorist group, were located, demanding they turn themselves in. The suspects instead began shooting from the structure, prompting the soldiers to return fire.

All three wanted men were reported killed during the arrest raid.

The three wanted men were identified as Husam Aslim, 24, one of the heads of the Lions’ Den group, who carried out shooting and IED attacks and dispatched the murderers of IDF St.-Sgt. Ido Baruch, who were arrested last week by the Israeli security forces; Muhammad a-Fatah, 24, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] member who carried out shooting attacks targeting IDF soldiers in Judea and Samaria; and Walid Dahil, 24, a member of the Lions’ Den group who fired at soldiers in Judea and Samaria.

In response, the PA said it would turn to the United Nations [UN], with PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh tweeting, “The Palestinian leadership decides to go to the #UN Security Council to request international protection for our Palestinian people in light of the continuing crimes of the occupation.”

Describing the arrest raid as a “planned and premeditated criminal act,” he added that “the Palestinian leadership is seriously considering taking steps at all levels in response to this barbaric act.”

Riyad Mansour, the PLO envoy to the UN, also demanded that the world body take action following the IDF operation. He said the UN was losing credibility by standing by as Palestinians were killed and warned that the disputed territories were a powder keg waiting to go off, which he blamed on Israeli policies.

Israel remains engaged in a counter-terrorism offensive amid a wave of Palestinian attacks.

Earlier this month, a terrorist attack in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood claimed the lives of Yaakov Israel Paley, 6, his brother, Asher Menachem Paley, 8, and 20-year-old Alter Shlomo Lederman.

Three days later, Israeli soldier St.-Sgt. Asil Sawaed, 22, died from wounds sustained in a terrorist attack at a checkpoint to Shuafat in northeastern Jerusalem.

In late January, seven people were killed and several others were wounded in a terrorist shooting attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 23, 2023. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the effectiveness of the Iron Dome in protecting innocent Israelis from yet another terrorist attack. Pray that this action will indeed have been a significant blow to Hamas, crippling their ability to fortify and arm their army of insurgents.


LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, my glory and the One who lifts up my head.

- Psalm 3:1–3

Hezbollah Leader Warns Israel of Violence if Maritime Gas Development Delayed

by Kate Norman

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The Seajacks Leviathan off the Mediterranean coast

Friday, 17 February 2023 | The secretary-general of Hezbollah—the Iran-backed terrorist group operating in Lebanon—issued threats against Israel and the US in a speech yesterday.

Secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah spewed a familiar threat against Israel’s Karish gas field off the northern coast near Lebanon. The two nations inked a maritime border agreement in October following months of negotiations, establishing a boundary with the Karish gas field on the Israeli side of the border and the Qana gas field mostly on the Lebanese side.

Throughout the months-long negotiations, Nasrallah and Hezbollah issued threats of violence against Israel if it began production on the Karish field before an agreement was reached.

Months after the agreement, the Karish field is producing well, as the Jewish state’s first export of hydrocarbon liquids was shipped from the gas field to global markets this week, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Production from the Qana field is going much slower, despite the participation of energy companies from France, Italy and now Qatar.

Nasrallah once again placed the responsibility in Israel’s lap.

“If there is procrastination regarding the issue of oil and gas from Lebanese waters, will we allow Israel to continue extracting oil and gas from Karish?” Nasrallah asked during his speech. “I tell you never, this means if you want us to starve, we will kill you, and I thought well of what I said.”

Italy and France’s respective energy companies, Eni and TotalEnergies, told Reuters in January that they would begin assessing the Lebanese maritime field this month before later conducting exploratory drilling. The process is going slowly, however, as the Jerusalem Post noted that Lebanon may have to wait years to see any production of oil or gas, should they even find any reservoirs off the Lebanese coast.

This is bad news for Lebanon, which is sunken in a mire of economic and political turmoil, with the Lebanese currency continuing to plummet.

Nasrallah also issued threats against the United States, blaming Washington for Lebanon’s problems.

“I tell the Americans that if they want to sow chaos in Lebanon, you will lose everything,” Nasrallah warned in his speech, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. “Those who bet that pain and suffering will make our environment abandon its principles and achievements are delusional.

“If you push Lebanon into chaos, you must wait for chaos in the entire region, foremost of which is your protégé, Israel,” the Hezbollah leader continued. “Just as we were ready for war in defense of our oil, we are ready to extend our arms against your protégé Israel.”

Hezbollah failed to act on its threats during the maritime border agreements last year, aside from launching spy drones over the Karish gas field, which the Israeli military shot down. Israel’s top brass took the threats seriously, however, and kept the Jewish state’s northern border on high alert until the agreement was signed and sealed.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 17, 2023)

Photo Credit: Tim Green/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s protection over the Karish oil field and Israel’s northern border. Beseech the Lord that Nasrallah’s threats will amount to nothing more than saber rattling, as they have in the past. Also pray that the energy companies from Italy and France will be able to satisfy expectations at the Qana field.


Do not take me away with the wicked and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts.

- Psalm 28:3

Israel Raps US for Critical UN Security Council Statement

by Mike Wagenheim ~ JNS

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Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

Tuesday, 21 February 2023 | The United States [US] reportedly brokered a deal to keep a UN Security Council resolution critical of Israeli housing plans in Judea and Samaria from coming to a vote.

But for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that wasn’t enough.

The 15-member Security Council opted to adopt a presidential statement on Monday during its monthly meeting on the Israeli–Palestinian file. The statement, issued on behalf of the Security Council president and adopted by consensus, does not have the binding force of a resolution. It rapped Israel for last week’s announcement of plans to build more homes in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as to legalize nine previously unauthorized settlement outposts.

“The Security Council reiterates that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines,” the council said in the statement, which can only be adopted by consensus. “The Security Council expresses deep concern and dismay with Israel’s announcement on February 12.”

The original resolution, which the United Arab Emirates [UAE] drafted on behalf of the Palestinians, would have demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities” in what the UN deems to be occupied territory.

The UAE pulled the circulating draft on Sunday as the US reportedly coaxed Israel and the Palestinian Authority [PA] into an agreement. Israel will forgo further announcements of settlement expansion and demolition of, and eviction from, homes and structures occupied by Palestinians in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria for “several months.”

In return, the PA agreed to assume a greater responsibility for counterterrorism operations in Area A of Judea and Samaria, which is under its full control and which has seen regular incursions by the Israeli military in order to contain terror activity which the PA refuses to do. PA head Mahmoud Abbas will also reportedly be extended an invitation to the White House.

The Israeli, Palestinian and UAE envoys to the UN would not confirm the reported details of the deal nor discuss the circumstances by which they came about.

The presidential statement used language often emanating from the White House and US State Department, and a JNS source at the UN who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the drafting of the statement was largely Washington-driven.

The statement largely laid the blame on Israeli settlement expansion for imperiling the peace process, with the PA’s obligation to “renounce and confront terror” mentioned midway through the document. The statement made no mention of its payments to nor glorification of terrorists who carry out attacks, including against Israeli civilians.

‘This is an utter disgrace’

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said the Security Council’s priorities are backward. He held up a picture of brothers Asher and Yaakov Paley, two children killed this month by a Palestinian terrorist in a car-ramming attack.

The Palestinians’ most important international commitment was their obligation to combat terror, according to Erdan. “Yet today, the PA not only refuses to take real action to prevent terrorism, it actively, for many years now, stokes the flames of violence,” he told the Security Council.

Erdan quoted a Palestinian state television program in which a young Palestinian girl recites a poem about receiving a machine gun and rifle from her father to achieve victory over Israel and America.

“By glorifying terrorists and paying them money, the PA is breeding a culture of hatred and evil, which makes reconciliation impossible,” said the ambassador. He emphasized that evidence was irrefutable that “the Palestinian culture of hate and terror is real. How can this council justify ignoring it and never addressing it?”

Erdan chided the council for the “concern” and “dismay” it expresses of Israeli actions, but not of persistent, systemic Palestinian terrorism.

“Building permits in our homeland spark international uproar, while dead Jewish children illicit nothing. This is an utter disgrace,” said Erdan.

Erdan asked why the Security Council fails to discuss well-known illegal Palestinian construction in Israeli-controlled Area C of Judea and Samaria.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, told the council that “the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians is unconscionable. And the US supports Israel’s right to self-defense.”

Thomas-Greenfield made what she called an unequivocal statement. “We strongly oppose Israel’s announcement that it will advance thousands of settlement units,” she said. “And we strongly oppose Israel’s announcement that it will begin a process to retroactively legalize nine outposts in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] that were previously illegal under Israeli law.”

Remaining in line with a change in US policy formulated under the Trump administration, Thomas-Greenfield did not deem Israeli settlements illegal. She said the measures “exacerbate tensions” and “harm trust between the parties.”

The heavy focus of the presidential statement on Israeli settlement and counterterror activities drew Netanyahu’s ire.

The prime minister’s office released a statement calling the Security Council document “one-sided” and one that “denies the rights of Jews to live in our historic homeland, fails to mention the Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem in which 10 Israeli civilians were murdered, ignores the Palestinian Authority’s grotesque pay-for-slay policy, which subsidizes the murder of Jews, and belittles the evil of anti-Semitism, which has resulted in the slaughter of millions.”

After a pair of Israeli government ministers recently intimated that the Biden administration should keep its thoughts on Israeli government activity to itself, Netanyahu’s office chided the White House. The Security Council presidential statement “should never have been made, and the US should never have joined it,” it stated.

If the State Department expected thanks for killing the original resolution, it will need to look elsewhere. That doesn’t appear to be coming from Jerusalem, as tensions between the two governments grow over a number of issues.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 20, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israeli leaders will continue to move forward with courage to fulfill those mandates that have come from the Lord and to abandon those ideas that have not. Pray for a move of God at the UN that will awaken international leaders to the outrageous anti-Semitism that has been their business-as-usual for generations. Also ask the Lord to protect the vital relationships that Israel has with the United States and other allies.


I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.

- Psalm 32:8, 10

European Union, Biden Administration Embrace Palestinian Lies

by Bassam Tawil ~ Gatestone

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The Biden administration and the EU are turning a blind eye to Palestinian lies.

Friday, 17 February 2023 | The Palestinian Authority [PA] and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, continue to twist, misrepresent and rewrite the history of the Jews as part of an ongoing campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The campaign aims to negate and reject the connection between the Jews and the Land of Israel and foster hatred for Israel and the Jews.

This campaign—which, in Europe, at least, has been going on for decades—is being completely ignored by both the European Union [EU] and the Biden administration, whose representatives are too busy bashing Israel to notice. By turning a blind eye to Palestinian lies, fabrications and anti-Semitism, the Biden administration and the EU are sending a message to the Palestinians that it is perfectly fine to continue demonizing Israel and Jews.

On February 12, Abbas participated in a conference at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. The conference, attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, was held to discuss ways to support the Arabs living in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

Addressing the conference, Abbas repeated his false claim that there was no connection between Jews and Jerusalem, as well as the Western Wall or Temple Mount, part of the retaining wall from the Second Temple of Solomon that was destroyed in AD 67—more than 500 years before the Islamic Prophet Mohammad was born in AD 571—and that Muslims are now claiming as part of their Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Abbas also exposed his anti-Semitic colors once again by arguing that Israel was created because the Europeans wanted to get rid of the Jews living in their countries, when in fact the Jews have continuously lived in area, first known as Canaan, which included Judea, since at least 1550 BC, when Jericho was razed.

According to Abbas, the Palestinians are the only ones who have rights in Jerusalem and its holy sites, including the Western Wall, referred to by Muslims as Al-Buraq Wall. Abbas went on to claim that the idea of establishing the State of Israel had nothing to do with Jews achieving their more-than-2,000-year-old dream to live freely in their own homeland.

Two days after Abbas’s latest attempt to rewrite history and deny any Jewish connection to the land of Israel, his friends in the Biden administration and some European countries issued a joint statement in which they attacked Israel for advancing plans to build new homes for Jewish families in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]: “We—the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany and Italy, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, and the Secretary of State of the United States—are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s announcement that it is advancing nearly 10,000 settlement units…We strongly oppose these unilateral actions, which will only serve to exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution. We continue to closely monitor developments on the ground which impact the viability of the two-state solution and stability in the region at large.”

Needless to say, the statement by France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the US totally ignored Abbas’s ongoing campaign to vilify Israel, demonize Jews, deny their history and rights to Israel and the Western Wall. In fact, the EU has even been working with the Palestinians to seize as much land as possible to create “facts on the ground” in the large region of “Area C” that officially belongs to Israel.

The statement also totally ignores Palestinian leaders’ glorification of terrorists and the Palestinian “pay-for-slay” program that incentivizes Palestinians to murder Jews by rewarding the murderers and their families afterwards.

For the EU and the Biden administration, building new homes by Jewish families is more dangerous than the anti-Semitic remarks and genocidal rhetoric of Abbas and other Palestinians.

The representatives of France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the US are lying to everyone’s face when they claim that the construction of new homes for Jews would “exacerbate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and undermine efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state solution.”

It is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people that is exacerbating tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the Palestinian leadership’s massive campaign of incitement against Israel and Jews and continued glorification of terrorists that is aggravating tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. It is also the Palestinian leadership’s ongoing efforts to erase Jewish history that are responsible for the mounting tensions.

The representatives of Italy, Germany, France, Britain and the US know that the Israeli–Arab conflict started long before the construction of even one house for Jews in the West Bank.

All they need to do is listen to what Abbas himself said in Cairo, where he made it clear that the Arab’s problem with Israel started already back in 1917, when the Jews were promised a homeland of their own. When Abbas states that the Arabs have exclusive rights to Jerusalem and Palestine, he is actually saying that Israel has no right to exist.

Unlike the Europeans and the Biden administration, Abbas’s main objection does not note the construction of a few thousand housing units for Jewish families. Abbas’s main objection concerns Jews moving from Europe and other parts of the world to live in their own homeland. Abbas’s main objection is to Jews’ saying that they have religious, historical and legal rights to Jerusalem, the Land of Israel and the Western Wall.

By ignoring Abbas’s remarks, those who issued the joint statement that denounces Israel for intending to build new housing units for Jewish families are complicit in the Palestinian campaign of lies and fabrications regarding Jewish history and rights.

By failing to call out the Palestinian leader for his lies, distortions and incitement, the officials from Italy, Germany, France, Britain and the Biden administration are again demonstrating their unbending bias against Israel.

They are allowing Palestinian leaders to continue to spread their lies and fabrications about Israel and the Jewish people. This—rather than building homes for Jews—is the real threat to a “negotiated solution” between Israelis and Palestinians.

Abbas has made similar statements about Israel and Jews in the past. In 2018, he said in speech before the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the PA, that the Europeans hated the Jews because of their social and banking activities, including interest on loans. According to Abbas, the State of Israel is colonialist project and alien body that was planted in the region by Christian countries that hated the Jews and wanted to get rid of them.

It is time for the EU and the Biden administration to wake up to the fact that the Palestinian leaders are not interested in peace with Israel. They are interested in peace without Israel. The Palestinians do not distinguish between a Jew residing in the West Bank and a Jew residing in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leaders are part of the problem, not part of the solution. The EU and the Biden administration’s double standards and failure to see reality as it is, instead of as they wish it to be, are also part of the problem. Only when the EU and the Biden administration take this in will it be possible to start talking about the prospects of a “negotiated solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute on February 16, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: zimmytws/canva.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for truth to prevail! Pray that He will open the eyes of the nations to recognize the malicious intent of the Palestinian campaign to create a fictitious history in which the Jewish people have no place. Pray that Abbas’s venomous lies will be exposed as the impediment to peace that they are.


For they do not speak peace, but they devise deceitful matters against the quiet ones in the land.

- Psalm 35:20

Israel Pledges to Help Ukraine Develop Early Warning Defense System

by JNS

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Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (left) meets with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, in Kyiv.

Friday, 17 February 2023 | Israel supports the continued sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and will help the nation develop an early warning defense system, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Thursday.

He also said Jerusalem would provide Kyiv with up to [US] $200 million in loan guarantees for humanitarian purposes.

Cohen arrived in the Ukrainian capital earlier in the day for a solidarity visit ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

Speaking after a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Cohen reiterated that Jerusalem stands firmly with the Ukrainian people “and remains committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Kuleba said the “frank talks” focused on “ways to enhance bilateral relations, increase assistance and address shared security challenges.”

Cohen is slated to have a sit-down meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before attending a ceremony for the permanent reopening of the Israeli embassy in the Ukrainian capital.

Cohen is the first Israeli minister to travel to the war-torn country since the conflict erupted on February 24, 2022.

He arrived in Kyiv by overnight train from neighboring Poland. Due to security concerns, the trip was not announced until Thursday morning when he reached Bucha, the site of alleged Russian atrocities.

“It is impossible to remain indifferent in the face of the terrible sights and horror stories that I have heard and been exposed to here. Israel condemns any intentional harm to innocent people,” said Cohen.

He also toured Babyn [Babi] Yar, where the Nazis and their local collaborators massacred 34,000 Jews over two days during the Holocaust.

Ahead of the visit, Kyiv submitted to Jerusalem a set of demands, including that the Israeli government issue a clear statement condemning Russia’s invasion and in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Kyiv also requested approval for a loan, backing for Zelenskyy’s peace plan calling for a total withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory, access to medical services and treatment in Israel and the joint development of missile-defense technology.

Cohen on Thursday said Israel intends to support Zelenskyy’s peace plan, which is expected to be presented at the United Nations next week.

Russia recently warned Israel against arming Ukraine after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated he was considering providing military assistance to Kyiv and was willing to mediate between the sides.

During his visit to Israel last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Jerusalem should be doing more to support Ukraine from a security perspective.

Standing alongside Netanyahu, Blinken said that “Russia’s ongoing atrocities” underscore the importance of “providing support for all of Ukraine’s needs—humanitarian, economic and security.”

Israel has refrained from providing weapons directly to Ukraine, as doing so could risk undermining the Jewish state’s security.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 16, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israeli Foreign Ministry/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will continue to bless Israel with great wisdom as the nation walks a tightrope between the West and Russia. Thank Him for Israel’s generosity in the area of humanitarian aid and pray that the early defense warning system will be effective in saving the lives of many. Cry out to Him for an end to Russian aggression and for peace to be restored.


For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice.

- Proverbs 2:6–8a

Trade and Tourism on the Rise among Abraham Accords States

by Steve Postal ~ JNS

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Nearly half a million Israeli tourists have taken advantage of the Abraham Accords and visited countries and places previously off-limits, like this colorful market in Dubai, UAE.

Monday, 20 February 2023 | Ties among Abraham Accords nations are growing stronger despite the normalization agreements’ lack of popularity in the Arab partner countries.

This is according to the Abraham Accords Peace Institute (AAPI)’s recently released 2022 Annual Report, which examines avenues to improve and expand the agreements initiated by President Donald Trump in 2020. Normalization deals have been signed by Israel, the United States [US], the United Arab Emirates [UAE], Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and Kosovo.


Total trade between Israel and the Abraham Accords countries increased from [US] $593 million in 2019 to [US] $3.47 billion in 2022. Israel imported [US] $2.57 billion worth of goods and services from these countries last year, up from [US] $378.3 [million] three years earlier, and exported [US] $903.9 million in goods and services, up from [US] $224.8. million.


Some 5,200 tourists entered Israel from the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Kosovo and Sudan in 2022 (up from 3,500 in 2019), as compared with 470,700 Israeli tourists visiting those same countries in 2022 (up from 39,900 in the earlier period).

Asher Fredman, the director for Israel at AAPI, said that this disparity in numbers comes for several reasons.

“Given the seven-plus decades of anti-Israel demonization and misinformation that was prevalent in these countries, it will naturally take time until large numbers of citizens from these countries feel comfortable visiting Israel,” said Fredman.

“Additional reasons for low tourism from the Accords countries to Israel are challenges related to obtaining visas and transiting through Ben Gurion Airport, and concerns by some citizens of Accords countries that they may face threats or harassment from Palestinians. We are working with all stakeholders to overcome these challenges.”

According to Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “Israelis are much more inclined to travel than others, and the UAE is a big attraction for them, especially as a welcoming Arab state. But I also think that bringing Arab tourists to Israel is very important in the effort to socialize the Accords.”

Popularity of the Abraham Accords

Another key finding of the 2022 report regards the support for the Abraham Accords in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with at most 25% of the public (among Emiratis) holding a very positive or somewhat positive view of the Accords.

While acknowledging that AAPI is still collecting and analyzing data, Fredman said, “It appears that there is a sense among parts of the population that the Accords have not directly benefited them, while the decision to normalize relations with Israel has brought harsh criticism from those which continue to reject peace.

“To change this,” he added, “Israel and its allies in the United States must advance projects that mutually benefit Israelis and the people in the Accords countries, and we must communicate the impact of those benefits. Israel must overcome obstacles to increased tourism to Israel through marketing campaigns, improved security processes and infrastructure, and increasing the number of incoming delegations and exchange programs.”

Robert Greenway, president and executive director of AAPI, suggested that Israel create a subdivision in its Ministry of Tourism to “specifically deal with Accords countries, incentivize hospitality investment, and create reciprocal e-visa schemes with those countries.”

Israel–UAE Relations

The report assessed the Israel–UAE relationship as “strong.”

In 2022, 268,000 Israelis visited the Gulf nation, compared to 1,600 Emiratis visiting Israel. Total bilateral trade increased from [US] $11.2 million in 2019 to [US] $2.59 billion in 2022. Israel’s imports from the UAE totaled [US] $1.89 billion last year, up from zero in 2019. Israel’s exports to the UAE totaled [US] $699.9 million exported in 2022, up from [US] $11.2 million.

Greenway said the UAE “boasts one of the most favorable business environments in the region and a plethora of potential investors for startups. Israel, meanwhile, has been consistently lauded for its number of startups and unicorns, creating a clear point of connection between Israel and the UAE.”

According to Fredman, “Israel’s trade with the UAE has been far higher than with any other Accords member country due to the UAE’s status as one of the world’s leading trade and transport hubs, the ease of travel between the two countries, and the UAE’s relatively larger tech and innovation ecosystem.”

Kuperwasser said, “The UAE came to the Abraham Accords more prepared than other partners. For the UAE (and to a lesser extent for Bahrain and Morocco) it was a part of a wider, deeply embedded worldview of tolerance and promotion of interfaith policy. It was also better prepared practically as Israelis were having relations with the UAE for a long time.”

Israel–Bahrain Relations

The report assessed the Israel–Bahrain relationship as “adequate.”

In 2022, 2,700 Israelis visited Bahrain versus 400 Bahrainis visiting Israel. Bilateral trade rose from [US] $0 in 2019 to [US] $12.7 million in 2022, with Israel importing [US] $2.2 million and exporting [US] $10.5 million in goods and services last year.

Greenway said that, “with Bahrain, Israel has shared security interests which the two countries have used as a point of cohesion, even conducting a joint paratrooper jump over Bahrain last year. Government relations have also continued to warm, with the Israeli prime minister and president both visiting Bahrain in 2022.”

According to Fredman, the slower progress of Israel–Bahrain relations compared to Israel–UAE relations was to be expected “given the size of the two nations’ economies, the years of disconnect between Bahrain and Israel, and differences in the two countries’ legal, political and economic systems. But as Bahrainis and Israelis become more familiar with each other and with the differences between their markets and business cultures, the pace of trade will pick up.”

Key steps to improve the relationship would include upgrading the Israel–US–Bahrain strategic partnership in the defense sector, creating the conditions necessary for expanded overland trade, and increasing people-to-people connections, particularly in the fields of innovation, entrepreneurship and finance, he said.

Greenway and Fredman both noted that the ratification of the Israel–Bahrain Free Trade Agreement would enhance ties between the countries.

Israel–Morocco Relations

The report ranked the Israel–Morocco relationship as “adequate.”

In 2022, 200,000 Israelis visited Morocco versus 2,900 Moroccans visiting Israel that same year. Total trade between Israel and Morocco increased from [US] $13.7 million in 2019 to [US] $55.7 million in 2022, with Israel importing [US] $17.8 million and exporting [US] $37.9 million in goods and services last year.

“Morocco and Israel share a vast cultural history, and a significant portion of modern Israelis are of Moroccan descent,” said Greenway. “Trade and cooperation grew significantly in 2022 and there are some clear areas of shared economic and security interest between the two countries.”

Fredman believes there is “tremendous potential” for the Israel–Morocco relationship and three-way Israel–Morocco–US ventures in the fields of agriculture, renewable energy, water, health, innovation and people-to-people ties. Greenway and Fredman both said that Israel’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty in Western Sahara (the Southern Provinces) would greatly enhance the Israel–Morocco relationship.

The Future of the Abraham Accords

Kuperwasser is hopeful that Israel and the US can expand the Abraham Accords to both Saudi Arabia and Oman.

“We can rely on Iran to help convince them but we have to prove that the four Arab partners in the Accords have benefited from them,” he said.

Both Greenway and Fredman hope that the Abraham Accords will broaden to places in Africa, South Asia and the broader Middle East.

“With over [US] $3.4 billion in trade among Accords countries in 2022 alone, the economic benefits of normalization are becoming clearer,” said Greenway. “Continued growth in tourism and the development of multilateral Accords member cooperation and free trade agreements will only accelerate the benefits of the Accords, creating broader appeal to normalization for other countries.”

Fredman said that, “an active US role will likely be a critical factor as well in encouraging other countries to join the Accords.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on February 19, 2023. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Abraham Accords will indeed broaden to other Arab states in the Middle East and around the world. Pray that tourism from these Arab states will be a strong tool in reversing the effects of the steady diet of anti-Semitism and misinformation these people have been fed for generations.


A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.

- Proverbs 19:9 ESV