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 email@example.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.
Speaking Clearly about the “Deal of the Century”
by Naomi Linder Kahn~Gatestone Institute
Thursday, 27 February 2020 | The publication of the “Peace to Prosperity” plan has created tremendous confusion and uncertainty in both the Israeli and American political environments. Most of those in the business of analyzing and advising on matters concerning Israel and the Middle East have been hesitant to speak about the plan, either because they are afraid to criticize the right-wing leaders headlining the plan (and standing for re-election) or because the plan’s implications are too detailed for easy analysis. It is crucial, however, to ensure the region’s national security—for everyone who is able to get up off the sofa and vote.
The “Peace to Prosperity” plan is a game-changer. For the first time, Israel’s historic and legal rights have been not only acknowledged but embedded as the cornerstone of a vision for the future—a vision that aims to ensure security for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Sweeping dangers inherent in the current plan, nevertheless, must not lull voters into a false sense of complacency.
Regavim, a non-governmental organization that for more than a decade has been analyzing facts on the ground and using data to build maps that clarify the land’s shifting political realities and challenges, has drawn up a map that reflects the reality that will result if the plan is implemented. While the “Peace to Prosperity” plan presents an important vision that should serve as the basis for future negotiations, there are a number of crucial adjustments to the maps at its heart that must be made before the Israeli government embraces it, as the newly appointed team is tasked to do. At the moment, the plan provides a blueprint for a Palestinian state that could place nearly every inch of Israel in harm’s way, and cedes significant sections of sovereign Israeli territory in areas bordering Gaza that currently provide strategic depth and crucial land reserves for Israel’s future security and development.
Israel’s and America’s upcoming elections are fateful for both countries and will determine who will conduct the negotiations moving forward. If no clear message is conveyed by Israel—immediately—negotiations after the elections could take this silence as tacit agreement. A unity government could be at liberty to negotiate on the basis of an uncontested plan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, if he wins re-election, could claim that the elections were a referendum on the plan, and the deal could be implemented in accordance with the laws of Israel. If former IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Chief of General Staff Benjamin (Benny) Gantz becomes prime minister, the road ahead is even clearer. His Blue and White Party has accepted the plan “as is,” without actually analyzing its outcomes, and without any corrections to the conceptual maps. Gantz and his party have announced that they are happy to accept Israeli sovereignty over less than 2% of Judea and Samaria, thereby leaving Israel exposed, vulnerable to hostile forces.
The political situation in the United States is no less crucial a factor. American presidents are elected to protect American interests—and these often shift. It is therefore critically important that Israel not do a deal based on oral understandings of how Israel will be at liberty to respond if and when the Palestinians violate the terms of the agreement (right now, oral understandings are all that exist): we do not know how those oral understandings will be transmitted or accepted by the next US Congress and administration. There is a world of difference between the approaches of the candidates from the two major US parties.
If Trump is re-elected, the version of his plan eventually ratified by Israel will serve as the basis for negotiations. It is therefore crucial that the threats to Israel’s security are corrected before Israel embraces the “conceptual maps.” If, on the other hand, President Trump is not re-elected, the “Peace to Prosperity” vision may prove to be yet another Oslo Accord—a dangerous hole into which Israel will fall without a safety net. If Israel were to approve the plan now, essentially agreeing to the potential creation, at the end of four years, of a Palestinian state, the overwhelming temptation is for a future US president to begin the conversation from there, and not necessarily hold the Palestinian side to its obligations—which is precisely what happened under the Oslo framework.
There are, unfortunately, many historical reasons why one should hesitate to assume that the Palestinians may not live up to their end of the deal, and many reasons to believe that a Trump administration will not allow them to get away with it. Would Trump’s successor, however, hold the Palestinians to the same standard of compliance? Israel could easily find itself again having traded tangible facts on the ground for intangible, unenforceable promises.
Israeli voters should be asking themselves: What will the map look like if the plan, in its current form, is implemented? Which of the parties asking for our votes will speak out against the dangers presented by the plan? Which of the candidates will articulate Israel’s basic needs, and demand the necessary adjustments to the “conceptual maps” that will serve as the basis for negotiations?
It is crucial for Israeli and American voters to know who and what they are voting for.
Naomi Linder Kahn is Director of the International Division of an Israeli NGO, Regavim.
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Gatestone Institute on February 26, 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: The White House/Joyce N. Boghosian/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
As Israel’s elections are set to take place on March 2, pray urgently that voters will look to the Lord for guidance in their choice of leadership. Pray that each parties’ position on the peace plan is clearly revealed and that no hasty decisions that may be harmful to Israel’s security will be made.
You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
Judea and Samaria Mapping Team Prepares for Israeli Sovereignty
by Itamar Eichner
Wednesday, 26 February 2020 | A week before the elections, an Israeli–American mapping team toured the overlook near the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] city of Ariel on Monday, before Israel is set to apply its sovereignty on the territory as part of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the event and gave his blessing to the move.
“The joint mapping process of the Israeli team and the American team is underway here in Ariel. This is a major mission. The area has an 800-kilometer (500-mile) perimeter. There is serious work, but we will work as quickly as possible to get it done,” said Netanyahu. “The mapping is underway in order to allow for the application of Israeli law on these areas and later American recognition as well.
“The process will be completed as quickly as possible. We will do this as rapidly as possible; there is no artificial impediment. For the mapping process, one must consider every valley, every section, every nook, and every line; this is serious. We are determining here lines that have historic implications. Therefore, the work will be done as quickly as possible, and we will not stop for anything.”
Netanyahu then spoke about the recent round of violence with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ] in the Gaza Strip.
“Last night [Sunday], we attacked in both Gaza and Syria. I do not intend to let up. On the way here, I spoke with the security elements. As you can imagine, we will be in action today as well. Beyond the severe blows that we are inflicting on our enemies, Hamas and Islamic Jihad need to understand—it will not continue this way. If they do not stop firing completely, and I do not mean for a day or two, but in general, if there will not be a complete halt, we will be obliged to activate the plan for an extensive campaign that we have prepared,” said Netanyahu.
“These are not mere words. They contain new and surprising things that were not in Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense or Operation Defensive Shield, and whoever is in the Security Cabinet knows exactly what we are talking about. The campaign could become a war; it is the last option. I am not rushing to go there. I know the cost our soldiers pay and the families of the fallen. This is the last option, but if there is no choice, we will go there. Woe to Hamas and Islamic Jihad if they reach that day.
“The choice is theirs. We will do what is necessary in order to restore complete security to the residents of the south.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin also lauded the move, citing its historic significance.
“The goal is to draw an accurate and complete map of the area so that Israeli sovereignty could be applied to it,” said Levin. “It is definitely a historic and significant moment.”
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his senior advisor Aryeh Lightstone, prime minister’s office Acting Director General Ronen Peretz and US National Security Council Director for Israeli–Palestinian affairs Scott Leith were also present at the meeting.
Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Pray that the mapping of the biblical heartland and its communities will go swiftly and smoothly. Give thanks and proclaim God’s eternal covenant promise that this land is the inheritance of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.”
As Gaza Truce Appears to Hold, Southern Israel Returns to Routine
Wednesday, 26 February 2020 | After two days of almost constant rocket fire, life in southern Israel began to return to normal Tuesday morning after a ceasefire with [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad [PIJ] in Gaza secured with Egyptian mediation appeared to hold.
Railway traffic to the south has been resumed and roads have been opened to civilian traffic along the Gaza border for the first time in two days.
Schools were to remain closed in Ashkelon, Netivot, Sderot and the surrounding regional councils, however, as a precaution.
Eshkol Regional Council updated its residents that the directive to stay in close proximity to protected areas has been lifted but the ban on gatherings in open areas was still in place. Agricultural work starting three miles [3.8 km] from the Gaza border also resumed.
The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] said more than 100 rockets were fired into Israel during the two-day round of cross-border violence. Israel responded with air and artillery strikes on the group’s facilities in Gaza and Syria.
The Iron Dome missile defense system successfully intercepted about 90% of the projectiles, although several civilian targets—including a playground—were hit by rockets.
PIJ said late Monday that it was ending its attacks on Israel, which began after IDF troops killed at least one of its members [who was] laying a bomb at the Gaza border fence on Sunday morning.
“The al-Quds Brigades announces that it has finished its military response to the assassination crimes in Khan Yunis and Damascus,” read the statement.
“It promises our people and nation that it will continue its struggle and that it will respond to any continued [aggression] by the occupation against our people and land.”
The IDF Home Front Command on Tuesday morning lifted some of the restrictions on civilians, including the directive to remain near to a bomb shelter at all times.
The government announced it has closed off all entry points in and out of Gaza and will allow only humanitarian cases to leave the Strip.
Photo Credit: Emanuel Yellin, עמנואל ילין/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Continue to intercede for the residents of the Gaza envelope communities who have endured so many rocket attacks over the years. Give thanks for this short period of rest and pray that it will be extended. Ask the Lord to surround His people with shalom (peace).
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
Israeli Blogger Finds “Extremely Friendly” Reception in Saudi Arabia
by Itamar Eichner
Friday, 21 February 2020 | As Jerusalem and Riyadh inch closer to ties, travel blogger Alex Lapshin jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first-ever Israelis to visit Saudi Arabia after it recently opened its gates to citizens of the country looking to explore investment opportunities there.
According to Lapshin, the people of Saudi Arabia were “extremely friendly.” He said the Saudis he met all knew he was from Israel, showed interest in the country, and were overjoyed by the newly developing relationship between the two countries.
Still, Lapshin advises some degree of caution, “since the country was closed off to strangers for so many years.”
“They are pretty mistrustful of tourists, I’m afraid the average Israeli will run into a few minor problems while visiting here,” he says.
Holding both Israeli and Russian citizenship, Lapshin has visited more than 146 countries. He received global attention in 2016 when he was arrested in Minsk at the request of the Azerbaijani authorities and extradited for previously entering the country illegally. He was pardoned soon after by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, following an international outcry, and returned to Israel.
And although Lapshin entered Saudi Arabia on his Russian passport, he says that when he showed airport security that he was also carrying an Israeli passport, they smiled at him and invited him to travel the country as a citizen of Israel.
“Some people said it was their dream to visit Israel as tourists,” says Lapshin, who traveled all across Saudi Arabia, starting at the southern border the country shares with Yemen—where monkeys roam free—and ending in the forest-covered border with Jordan in the north.
“Saudi Arabia is vast and different; more akin to America than any other place in the Middle East,” says Lapshin.
“The country is filled with Europeans and Americans looking for work since the salaries here are crazy, starting at about [US] $10,000 per month.”
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s living expenses are extremely low. “Gas is [US] $2 a liter, shawarma costs NIS 10, and a mid-range hotel costs [US] $30 per night.”
Still, according to Lapshin, the Arab country has a few fields in which it can still improve.
“I was appalled there weren’t any buses or trains heading to the center of the capital city,” he says. “Luckily the Saudis are good-natured and are more than happy to offer tourists a ride.”
Lapshin says the Saudi tourism industry is relatively new, as the country only recently opened its gates to the outside world at the behest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who took the throne in 2015.
“There are no information centers for tourists, and retailers aren’t all that fluent in English,” says Lapshin. “It’s hard to cope in museums, parks and other attractions since they close for the day for reasons I cannot understand.”
Lapshin also warns that taking pictures of mosques in strictly forbidden.
“Why? I have no idea,” he says. “I almost got into trouble in Riyadh for taking a single picture. Furthermore, the Saudis pray five times a day, and if you are at a restaurant while they go pray, you are asked to leave for at least 30 minutes until they finish praying.”
Saudi Arabia was the last country Lapshin had yet to visit in the Middle East.
Photo Credit: Eric Johnston/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Give thanks for this new evidence of improving relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. May it continue to grow so that many now-hostile nations will turn and see Israel as God sees her.
For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.
Israeli Health Ministry Warns against International Travel as Coronavirus Spreads
by Kate Norman
Thursday, 27 February 2020 | Yesterday Israel became the first nation to urge its people to rethink any international travel amidst the global spreading of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“If you don’t genuinely have to fly—don’t do so,” the Health Ministry urged in a travel warning.
The Israeli Health Ministry ordered that anyone returning from China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Macau and now Italy self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning home. Now 1,600 Israelis across the Jewish state are currently in isolation, Ynetnews reported.
“Our policy is the same,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, “Over-preparation and not under-preparation and above all, caution and not hysteria.”
The head of Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) added that they are “careful, and certainly not hysterical. Everything is under control and rational; the risks are constantly being assessed.”
Over 81,000 people have reportedly been infected worldwide, with nearly 3,000 deaths. The number of those infected and the death toll continue to rise every day.
Italy became the first European nation to appear on Israel’s no-go list after the virus broke out, infecting 374 people and killing 12 so far, according to Italian authorities. After the outbreak of the virus in Italy, Israeli officials have issued a warning against travel to the nation.
The requirement to self-quarantine also applies to anyone who has had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. A group of 18 South Koreans who toured Israel earlier this month tested positive for the virus after returning home. Hundreds of Israeli students and teachers were quarantined whose field trips coincided with the South Korean group’s itinerary.
Israeli medical specialists took a sample from an infected patient for the Israel Institute for Biological Research to begin work developing a vaccine, the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday.
A Israeli woman who had been one of 15 Israeli passengers onboard the infamous Diamond Princess cruise ship—which was quarantined off the coast of Japan for two weeks and had over 600 confirmed cases of the virus—returned home Wednesday morning after being treated for the virus in a Japanese hospital. 74-year-old Rachel Biton arrived in Israel after being given the all-clear. Three more Israelis remain in Japan for treatment. The other 11 passengers were brought back to Israel and placed under quarantine. Two of those 11 tested positive for the virus.
Fears of the virus could affect Monday’s election, as 6.5% of 502 people surveyed said they might not vote out of fear of exposure to the virus—amidst a time when voter turnout is critical to prevent the political deadlock that has dragged Israel through three elections in one year.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 27, 2020)
Photo Credit: Mattes/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Beseech the Lord to establish and strengthen Israel’s leaders and those in the health ministry with divine wisdom and understanding as they make decisions regarding Israel’s response to this worldwide threat.
Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established…A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.
Hamas Torn between Long-term Calm, Popular Resistance
by Ron Ben Yishai
Tuesday, 25 February 2020 | After a number of violent cycles, a short military campaign, and dozens of rockets launched towards the south, including the cities of Ashkelon and Netivot, the motives of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group remain the same—preventing any long-term agreement between Hamas and Israel brokered by Egypt and financed by Qatar.
The PIJ considers itself a religious resistance group conducting a holy war to bring about the destruction of Israel, but it is also motivated by its need for financial assistance that will keep arriving as long as the group panders to its Iranian sponsors.
After the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps [IRGC] commander Qassem Soleimani in January, Tehran instructed the PIJ and other Iranian proxies to increase their terror activity.
These orders propelled the organization’s increased efforts to target Israeli troops with sniper fire and explosive devices placed along the border fence.
The military decided on Monday to close off roads near the border, expecting anti-tank fire, a favored weapon of the Islamist faction, to target vehicles traveling on those roads.
Hamas is the de-facto ruler of the Gaza Strip and according to a joint agreement between the factions, has restricted PIJ’s operational freedom by limiting the number of rockets launched and targeting open areas to avoid casualties.
But the Islamist group is no longer satisfied with the agreement. Its Damascus-based leadership is out for revenge after an Israeli strike on the home of its senior member Akram al-Ajouri last November resulted in his son’s death while he and his daughter were both injured.
Hamas understands that PIJ is intent on disrupting any agreement that will lead to calm on the border but is unable to stop it.
Both factions are now almost equal in size and military capabilities, while the PIJ enjoys the support of the Strip’s smaller and more radical factions.
A current confrontation between the two main factions may turn out badly for Hamas after many Gazans have undergone religious radicalization.
Yesterday, the Hamas juggling act fell apart after images appeared showing a dead militant’s remains being moved about by the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], with the use of a tractor.
The anger that resulted in the perceived abuse of the dead, spread beyond the PIJ to the general public, forcing Hamas to stand down while the PIJ’s vengeance began.
A long-term understanding is in the interest of Israel that hopes an agreement might include the return of two Israelis held in Gaza along with the remains of IDF soldiers killed in 2014.
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Ynetnews on February 24, 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/Dima Vazinovich/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Pray for Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, head of the IDF’s Southern Command, and the military strategists responsible for Israel’s security on the Gaza border. Ask the Lord to give them divine wisdom to effectively deal with these two terror groups.
A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.
The Palestinian Deception at the UN
by Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Wednesday, 26 February 2020 | Consistent with Palestinian Authority [PA] policy, there is one message for the Palestinian street and another for the world. Palestinian leaders have intensified their message to Palestinians that they will never accept a “Palestine” that does not replace all of the State of Israel. At the same time, PA and Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] Chairman Mahmoud Abbas assured the UN Security council that the Palestinians “recognize Israel.”
On the same day that Abbas reminded the UN Security Council and the world of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s [PLO] recognition of Israel in 1993, his Fatah deputy, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, was busy talking to the Palestinian street. At a PA event protesting Trump’s Middle East peace plan and expressing support for Abbas and his mission at the UN, Al-Aloul held up the PA’s map of “Palestine” that replaces all of Israel and shouted “this is Palestine.”
Emphasizing that the notorious “stages plan” to destroy Israel is still Fatah policy, senior Fatah official Tawfiq Tirawi announced that Fatah has never agreed to a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, and that such a state is only “an intermediate statement”—stressing that the goal of Abbas’ Fatah is a “Palestine” that replaces all of Israel.
Palestinian Media Watch [PMW] already exposed that in a different speech a few days earlier, Tirawi said that “Palestine” stretches “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” and is waqf—an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law—thus denying the legitimacy of Israel in any borders under Islamic law.
The PA uses all the information structures it controls to spread its ideology that all of Israel is “Palestine.” A recent crossword puzzle in the official PA daily presented the Galilee in northern Israel as being in “Palestine.”
Likewise, official PA TV reinforced the message that “Palestine” encompasses all of Israel in a filler broadcast between programs. Abbas is heard giving a speech, and a demonstrator is holding a sign with the PA map of “Palestine”, including all of Israel colored as the PA flag.
But these messages are of course nothing new. PMW has documented for more than two decades that the PA constantly emphasizes the ideology that all of Israel is “Palestine,” and that the ideology is being embraced and even reinforced by the people.
Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published in Palestinian Media Watch on February 25, 2020. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Pray that the world will awaken to the deception of Palestinian leaders who say one thing in English and the opposite in Arabic. Pray that UN member nations will recognize the “stages” plan to destroy Israel rather than give credibility to false witnesses.
He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.
Netanyahu Announces Plan for 3,000 Homes in Judea
Friday, 21 February 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday announced the construction of thousands of housing units in Israeli settlements [communities] in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu said there are plans for at least 4,000 houses to be built, with 3,000 of the units set to be constructed in the settlement [community] of Givat HaMatos in south Jerusalem and another 1,000 in Beit Safafa, a Palestinian town in east Jerusalem, and is meant to benefit the local residents.
The announcement comes less than two weeks before the March 2 election and 8 years since the plans for construction in the area had been put forward but halted due to international pressure.
“We are going to build the Givat Hamatos neighborhood, we have removed all of the impediments,” said the prime minister at the nearby Har Homa settlement [community], which overlooks Givat HaMatos.
“I must say 1,000 of these will be put on the market immediately, in the coming days, by PMO Acting Director General Ronen Peretz,” he said.
“The Arab residents have a housing problem for which we are providing a solution,” he added, referring to the construction in Beit Safafa.
Netanyahu said the plan is meant to connect all parts of the “united” Jerusalem and establish a new Jewish neighborhood.
“Today, I announce the establishment of Har Homa Heh, a neighborhood in which we will build 2,200 residential units. This is another approximately 12,000 residents. Har Homa will be a neighborhood with around 50,000 residents. This is like an average-sized city in Israel, just in this neighborhood alone.”
He said the decision was made despite “strong international opposition.”
A spokesperson for Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the plan shortly after Netanyahu’s announcement.
“Netanyahu’s insistence on building thousands of settlement units is the systematic destruction of the two-state solution and the implementation of the Trump plan,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
The United States last month announced a reversal of four decades of American policy, saying it no longer viewed Israel’s settlements [communities] in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and east Jerusalem as “inconsistent with international law”.
Photo Credit: BBC World Service/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
Give thanks for these new housing units, designed to accommodate the return of God’s people to the land to which He promised to bring them. As Israel’s—and Jerusalem’s—population figures increase, rejoice that we are seeing prophecy fulfilled in our time.
But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
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