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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.
US Peace Envoy Returns to Israel as Palestinians Refuse to Halt Terror Payments
Wednesday, 12 July 2017 | The White House’s special envoy for international negotiations has returned to the Middle East for the sixth time in as many months, The Times of Israel reported Tuesday.
Jason Greenblatt met with Palestinian officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday, even as the Palestinians continue to refuse to end payments to terrorists—a priority for the US administration. He was accompanied by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and US Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome. The presence of Washington’s envoy to Israel was unusual for bilateral talks with the Palestinians, and was reportedly why the meeting was held in Jerusalem, rather than Ramallah.
“They had an open, cordial, and frank discussion on many topics related to peace negotiations,” a senior White House official told the Times. “The administration believes that in order to give everyone the best chance to reach an ultimate deal, it is critical to have negotiators that are close with the president and that is why the team includes Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman.”
Greenblatt’s previous meeting with Palestinian officials in June reportedly resulted in heightened friction due to the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to stop paying salaries to convicted terrorists and their families. The White House has made ending the payments and incitement to violence two of the priorities in trying to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
When he met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in May, US President Donald Trump said, “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded.”
Abbas last week reiterated that he would continue paying terrorists, vowing, “Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a martyr (shahid) or a prisoner.”
Greenblatt on Monday met with the families of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, Israelis who are being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The family of a third Israeli held by Hamas, Jumaa Abu Ghanima, was unable to attend. In a statement, Greenblatt “expressed outrage that Hamas has not allowed the Israelis, some of whom may need medical assistance, to communicate with their families and return home.”
Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 11 July 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Screenshot/Jason D. Greenblatt/Twitter
Offer petition to the Lord for commitment on the part of the White House to pursue direct negotiations without Palestinian preconditions, asking for God’s will to be done. Pray that PM Netanyahu will have godly wisdom and that his steps will be ordered by the Lord.
The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
UN Body Declares Tomb of Abraham a Palestinian Site
by Ilse Posselt
Monday, 10 July 2017 | The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) believes that the Jewish people have no claim to the spot where Abraham, the father of the Jews, is buried. According to the cultural arm of the United Nations (UN), the resting place of patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and matriarchs, Sarah, Rebekah and Leah, is, in fact, a historical Palestinian site—one that requires protection from the offspring of the very people who are buried there.
UNESCO made this decision on Friday during the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow, Poland, when it passed an anti-Israel resolution to label Hebron “Islamic” and designate the Old City of Hebron, home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, as a Palestinian heritage site in danger. This spot will now be inscribed on the committee’s List of World Heritage in Danger as a protected site in the “state of Palestine.”
Twelve of the 21 member states voted in favor of the resolution, while three nations opposed it. A further six countries abstained. This type of vote usually takes place by a show of hands, but three countries, namely Poland, Croatia and Jamaica, requested a secret ballot.
The resolution, which was proposed by the Palestinians, comprises two main clauses. The first hails the Old City of Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian heritage sites for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The second classifies these sites as being in danger. This means that UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will meet every year to discuss ways of protecting these spots from the supposed threats they face.
The vote caused international outrage almost as soon as it was cast.
“This attempt to sever the ties between Israel and Hebron is shameful and offensive, and eliminates UNESCO’s last remaining shred of credibility,” said Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon. “To disassociate Israel from the burial grounds of the patriarchs and matriarchs of our nation is an ugly display of discrimination, and an act of aggression against the Jewish people.”
US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, echoed Danon’s outrage. “The UNESCO vote on Hebron is tragic on several levels,” she held. “It represents an affront to history…and it further discredits an already highly questionable UN agency. Today’s vote does no one any good and causes much harm.”
Haley also vowed that the US would rethink its relationship with the world body because of the biased decision. “The United States is currently evaluating the appropriate level of its continued engagement at UNESCO.”
For his part, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the UNESCO resolution “delusional.”
To prove Israel’s millennia-old ties to Hebron, the prime minister quoted from Genesis 23:16-19, which tells the story of the father of the Jews, Abraham purchasing a burial cave for his wife, Sarah. “And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants… And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre ( that is Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field, and the cave that is in it were deeded to Abraham by the sons of Heth as property for a burial place.”
“The connection between the Jewish people and Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs is one of purchase and of history which may be without parallel in the history of peoples,” Netanyahu said after reading the Scripture.
The prime minister added that in light of the vote, Israel would cut $1million from its membership fees to the UN. The funds, he said would instead be allocated to construct a Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People as well as additional heritage projects in Hebron.”
The Jewish connection to Hebron began some 3,800 years ago, when Abraham pitched his tents and purchased a plot of land there. The nearly four millennia since has seen an almost unbroken chain of Jewish presence in the ancient city. In biblical times, Hebron served as the capital city of Judah and the seat of King David’s reign for the first seven years of his kingship. Moreover, Hebron is the eternal resting place for the founding fathers, patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives, Sarah, Rebekah and Leah.
Friday’s vote is the second anti-Israel resolution that UNESCO passed in a week. Last Tuesday, the world body voted in favor of a motion that denies the Jewish state’s ties to the Old City of Jerusalem. Ten countries voted in favor of this resolution, while three opposed it. Eight nations chose to abstain.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 10 July 2017 )
Photo Credit: Ericstoltz/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Thank God that we know His Word is true. Ask Him to help us to look beyond these circumstances as we continue to pray that the UN and its affiliate bodies will act with integrity and begin to strive towards a legacy of truth. Continue to lift up Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley as they argue and push forward on Israel’s behalf.
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.
Have you ever visited the Jewish community living in the old city of Hebron in Judea and Samaria? Very few tours or tourists have it on their itineraries but it is time to stand up and show the world that we care about our biblical heritage and inheritance. Visit Hebron, it’s an amazing place!
Despite Ceasefire Deal, Iranian Stronghold in Syrian Golan Still Possible
by Ron Ben-Yishai
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 | From an Israeli perspective, the ceasefire agreement in southwestern Syria, which goes into effect at noon Sunday, is a positive development—but not positive enough.
The agreement freezes the situation in the areas controlled by the Syrian regime, the areas controlled by militias operating on behalf of Iran and Hezbollah, and of course the areas controlled by the rebels, preventing the Iranian-backed militias and Hezbollah from advancing towards the Iraqi border. For now, as a result, the Iranians and their proxies are unable to create a land corridor connecting Tehran and Beirut and flanking Jordan and Israel.
Furthermore, the ceasefire will stop the “spillover” fire into the Golan Heights and Jordan from the battles between the Syrian army and the rebels. Both Israel and Jordan respond to any spillover incident, and a continuation of this situation could lead to a general flare-up in the region. A ceasefire will end the spillover fire and reduce the risk of escalation.
The third advantage of the ceasefire reached between Russia and the United States is easing the humanitarian situation in the Syrian Golan and the situation of refugees on the Jordanian-Syrian border.
The agreement does have a serious disadvantage from an Israeli perspective: It halts the advance of Iranian militias and Hezbollah, but fails to completely remove them from the area, as Israel likely demanded behind the scenes. This means that if and when the ceasefire is violated, the forces supported by Iran and Hezbollah would be able to continue their advance towards the Syrian-Jordanian border and the Syrian-Iraqi border, which will make it possible for them to create a strategic corridor to the Mediterranean Sea. Even worse is the fact that they would be able to advance and establish a stronghold in the Golan Heights.
Another disadvantage of the ceasefire deal is that the Assad army and the Russians, which both have an interest in keeping Assad and his people in power, will be responsible for the agreement’s implementation on the ground. If Assad stays in power in Syria, Iran and Hezbollah will stay there too. The agreement gives the Assad regime legitimization to control Syria, and the Americans are okay with that despite the Israeli government’s demand that “the butcher from Damascus” won’t stay there under any agreement ending the war.
The ceasefire agreement in southwestern Syria was reached in direct talks between the US and Russia and was finalized between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in their meeting Friday. At the same time, negotiations initiated by Russia with Iran and Turkey in Astana, Kazakhstan, led to “de-escalation zones” across Syria. There is still fighting going on in those areas, but it’s low-key, and if a ceasefire is reached there based on the Russian plan, they will turn into security zones that would draw refugees from the battle zones and serve as a basis for the diplomatic arrangement in Syria that could end the civil war there.
The negotiations in Astana are still far from being over, just like the UN-sponsored negotiations in Geneva for a political arrangement in Syria. The latest ceasefire in southwestern Syria is unique, as this is the first time the US and Russia are cooperating on something related to areas of influence in Syria. The ceasefire model taking effect Sunday may point to how the US and Russia plan to divide past and the present ISIS-controlled areas between them.
The parties’ interests
The US has officially announced that it has no other interest in Syria and in Iraq apart from getting rid of the Islamic State organization, although defeating ISIS and removing it from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria won’t destroy its existence as a violent Islamist idea, which will keep producing terror attacks almost all over the world. The Iraqi army was expected to announce Sunday that it has completed the occupation of Mosul, and the US-sponsored Kurdish and Arab forces are quickly advancing towards taking over al-Raqqah, the Syrian capital of ISIS.
The agreement reached between Putin and Trump offers an idea on what the political and military agreement in Syria would look like after ISIS is uprooted:
The two world powers agree that Assad would remain Syria’s legitimate and recognized leader, at least for now, in complete contradiction of the Israeli stance, which has been reiterated time and again by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including in the past weekend.
The Iranian forces, their militias and Hezbollah would be allowed to keep operating in Syria, but wouldn’t be allowed to approach the border with Israel in the Golan Heights. They would likely remain where they are now, 40 kilometers [25 mi] from the Purple Line in the Golan Heights.
The Iranian forces and their militias wouldn’t be allowed to hold onto border crossings between Syria and Iraq, to prevent a strategic corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea.
The ceasefire agreements would be implemented through remote-piloted vehicles, satellites, Russian forces and the Syrian army, which Israel sees as insufficient. It would like to have American forces on the ground, supervising the agreement’s implementation in the areas bordering the Golan Heights.
There is still the question of why this agreement was accepted by Russia, the US and Jordan, which were open partners in the negotiations, and by Israel and Syria, which were involved behind the scenes, according to the Associated Press.
The answer is that the agreement serves the interests of all parties. Russia wants to prevent an escalation in the region, which would force it to boost its military involvement and maybe create a conflict with Jordan, Israel and even the US. Russia has no interest in clashing with the US at the moment, and regulating the explosive situation in southwestern Syria serves Putin’s goal.
The American interest is similar. The US is taking care of its clients—Israel and Jordan—which might escalate their military responses in light of the spillover of fire and the humanitarian situation in southwest Syria. The US isn’t interested in solving the problem temporarily to help its clients, because that might force it to clash with Syria and Iraq. Israel and Jordan have a shared interest to prevent an escalation and stop Iran from approaching their border.
The Syrian regime, Hezbollah and Iran have a totally different interest in a ceasefire: Assad and the Iranians have realized that they are incapable of conquering the city of Daraa on the Jordanian border and that the rebels—to ease the pressure on Daraa—are successfully attacking them near new Quneitra in the Golan Heights, where the spillovers that Israel responded originated. The Syrian army is pressed in the Quneitra area. It’s failing to advance in Daraa despite help from Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, and therefore has no other choice but to agree to a ceasefire.
This is also why this ceasefire may not last very long. The moment the Syrian regime and the Iranians reach the conclusion they are strong enough to reoccupy Daraa and the border crossings between Syrian and Iraq, they will do it without any hesitation.
While Israel is not directly involved in the talks between Russia and the US, foreign sources report our influence there goes beyond the Netanyahu-Trump level and is also apparent in lower working levels with representatives of the American administration dealing with the Syrian situation. On the other hand, Israel is not involved in the negotiations in Astana because of Iran’s participation, and therefore won’t recognize its results, at least according to a very senior Israeli security source.
Photo Credit: Public domain/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Bring Pres. Rivlin and PM Netanyahu before the Lord, praying for wisdom as they speak to world leaders about the threats of terrorism Israel faces. Thank God that the US and Russia are currently working together on issues in Syria that affect Israel. Pray that Israelis will keep their hope, trust and hearts fixed on God in a changing Middle East environment.
Who remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever; and rescued us from our enemies, for His mercy endures forever.
Jordan Valley Farmers Hit Back at BDS
by Itamar Eichner
Monday, 10 July 2017 | The Ministry of Strategic Affairs will allocate NIS 4 million [US $1.1 million] to ten fairs in the United States and Europe allowing farmers from the Jordan Valley to sell their peppers, spices and grapes to pro-Israel consumers despite a European boycott.
The creative solution comes as a welcome relief to farmers in the area who have been suffering economically for years as a result of boycott efforts initiated by BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] and others. Products from the valley that are targeted for boycott include peppers, grapes, spices, figs and dates.
The economic damage from such activities is significant, with farmers suffering damages totaling roughly NIS 100 million [US $28.3 million] every year.
Residents of the Jordan Valley have previously complained that the Israeli government is burying its head in the sand and not doing anything to protect them. However, for the first time, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Minister Gilad Erdan, has decided to allocate NIS 4 million [US $1.1 million] to help the Jordan Valley Regional Council.
The budget will be used to organize 10 international events in the US and Europe, where farmers from the area will be able to display their quality produce and proudly say, “Our produce is legally produced and we provide a livelihood for 6,000 Palestinians who are not cared for by the Palestinian Authority.”
In addition to the events to be hosted in the US and Europe, the ministry is set to bring five delegations of foreign journalists to the Jordan Valley to highlight the effects of the boycott on produce.
This is not the first time that the idea was discussed.
In June 2016 a pilot was conducted in which the farmers from the Jordan Valley presented their produce in an “Israel pavilion” in Moscow, getting 20,000 visitors. Additionally, in September this year, the ministry presented produce from the West Bank [Judea-Samaria] at an Israel advocacy conference in Washington.
“The struggle against boycott organizations is preventing damage to the country, but one of the important areas still at risk is Israeli agriculture, which is harmed by the lies spread against it,” said Erdan in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth. “It is very important to promote and showcase its quality and to protect it, and that is the essence of cooperation with the Jordan Valley.”
David Elhiani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, said that in England and western Europe, with an emphasis on Scandinavia, products from the Jordan Valley are treated as contaminated goods.
However, Elhiani expressed hope with the plan, saying, “The fairs can save agriculture in the Jordan Valley and expose us to new markets. We hope to reach Asia and the US as well.”
Photo Credit: אילנה שקולניק/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Intercede for the prosperity and success of Israel’s farmers as the nation fights for existence, acceptance and export opportunities. Glorify God for the strategic planning that is targeting the plans of BDS movement and will result in new trade opportunities for farmers living in the Jordan valley.
The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, but in My favor I have had mercy on you. Therefore your gates shall be open continually; They shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession.
Israel to Buy Urban Warfare Drones Meant to Minimize Casualties
Monday, 10 July 2017 | The Israeli military is purchasing an unspecified number of small, multi-rotor drones that can be armed and have sufficient mobility to perform well in urban combat situations, Defense One reported Thursday.
The TIKAD drone is made by Duke Robotics, a Florida-based company that was co-founded by Lt. Col. Raziel “Razi” Atuar, a 20-year IDF [Israel Defense Forces] veteran. Having fought in urban settings, Atuar saw friends get killed and believes that the drones could save lives.
“You have small groups [of adversaries] working within crowded civilian areas using civilians as shields. But you have to go in. Even to just get a couple of guys with a mortar, you have to send in a battalion and you lose guys. People get hurt,” said Atuar, a former battalion commander who fought in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge three years ago. “The operational challenge, it bothered us.”
The TIKAD can be mounted with a machine gun or grenade launcher and is controlled remotely, ensuring its operator is under less pressure to defend [himself] than a soldier on the scene.
The TIKAD can carry weapons up to 22 pounds [10 kg] and was built with multiple plates that evenly distribute the force of the recoil, allowing it to remain stationary even after firing a shot.
The drone can do more than aim and fire. “You want to be able to reach the target and investigate it. I have to have time to gather information to be sure,” Atuar said. “That’s what the Israeli military has ordered from us.”
The United States military is also reportedly interested in the drone.
Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 06 July 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Screenshot/Facebook/Defense One
Pray for peace in Israel and pray that the time will come when Israel will no longer have to invest in military equipment for ever-changing and possible war conditions. In the meantime, thank God for the TIKAD drone that will help to save lives as soldiers are able to operate it from a distance during warfare.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.
Israel and Palestinians Ink Landmark Electricity Deal
by Ilse Posselt
Wednesday, 12 July 2017 | They call it a “historic” deal, the first of its kind between Israel and the Palestinians. On Monday, the Jewish state’s Energy, Water and National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz, and Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, were among the high-ranking officials who gathered in a field outside the Palestinian-governed city of Jenin to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the inauguration of a Palestinian-run power plant.
The Al-Jalameh Substation, which The Times of Israel describes as “the first-ever piece of Palestinian-owned electricity infrastructure,” is the first of four stations to be constructed in Judea and Samaria that will operate under the management of the PA. Part of a landmark agreement signed between the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) and the PA in 2016, the additional three sites will be located near Ramallah in the center, Shechem in the north and Hebron in the south. Through these four stations, the PA will ultimately have the necessary electricity flow to power up the towns and cities it governs.
The agreement between the IEC and the PA is aimed at establishing a structure to regulate the supply of electricity between Israel and the Palestinians, who have for years accumulated billions of shekels in debt, and will see part of the responsibility of power distribution to the Palestinian people taken over by the PA.
“This is definitely an encouraging historic moment in which we are inaugurating the first substation in the Palestinian Authority,” Steinitz shared during the ceremony. “Israel is interested in improving the Palestinian economy, and here we have a project that is beneficial for both parties.”
He labeled the initiative a “win-win situation.”
“It is good for Palestinians because they will get more electricity, which will be more stable and of higher quality. It is good for Israel because…the responsibility [for Palestinian electricity] will not fall on the shoulders of the Israeli Electric Corporation,” Steinitz explained.
The substation will initially operate at a partial capacity of 60 MW. At full capacity, it will, however, provide between 120-150 MW.
At present, the substation does not possess the capacity to generate electricity and will still buy its power from the IEC. However, once the electricity leaves Israeli hands, it becomes the responsibility of the PA.
The ICE built the substation, using both Israeli and Palestinian workers and also trained Palestinians to work in, maintain and manage the site. The substation is owned by both the PA and the Palestinian Electric Authority (PEA).
According to The Times of Israel, the international community, funded in part by USAID, the European Investment Bank, Italy, Norway and the European Union, purchased the substation for the Palestinians at a cost of 12 million euros [US $13.8 million].
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 12 June 2017)
Photo Credit: Qasrawi 2000/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Ask the Lord that this power station will be a blessing to Israel in the sense that it will lessen the burden on Israel’s economy. Pray that the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria will see the results of stable, high quality electricity and realize Israel’s good intention to better their lives.
Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart.
Israel Hosts Summer Camp for Youths who Lost Loved Ones in Terror Attacks
by Ahiya Raved
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 | From afar it looks like it could be any other summer camp for teens and children on their summer vacation. But in reality, this group, all wearing purple T-shirts, is one comprised of family members who have lost loved ones in terror attacks and wars.
During the summer months, the group “One Family” holds outings for Israelis who have suffered first-hand the tragedies of terror and wars, and this year is the organization’s 16th year.
“Whenever I would speak about my brother anywhere else people would just freeze. It was difficult for them to speak. Here the environment is easier. You can laugh about everything, speak about everything,” said Yitzhak Sarel, whose brother died during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Hundreds of these victims, intimately, albeit indirectly, affected by terror attacks and wars gather together at the beginning of what Israelis call “The Big Vacation.”
The participants are divided into four groups: boys, girls, mixed and youngsters aged between 18-24, who are given the opportunity to engage in fun activities as well as receiving the help they require after their loss.
On Monday for example, dozens of motorbikes were brought to the camp from the Israeli Motorcycle Club to a school where the youngsters were gathered. There, the youths were able to hop on the back and take a ride with one of the motorcyclists in the Golan Heights and the upper Galilee.
“Anyone who knows the experience of riding on a motorbike knows how wonderful it is. It’s a feeling of freedom, space,” said Yaniv Yair, one of the riders who brought his stunning BMW bike for a spin.
Yaniv’s brother was also killed after a Katyusha rocket landed near Kibbutz Kfar Giladi during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
“I think this shared fate makes them trust me more. Only someone who has been there knows and understands what it means,” Yaniv explained.
Another one of the participants is Dvir, whose father Rabbi Yaakov Litman and brother Netanel were killed in a 2015 terror attack, also reflected on how it was to be with others who had shared experiences.
“In regular settings it is a little difficult to open up about it with people who haven’t been through similar things. They don’t really understand or know how to handle it,” said Dvir, who is now participating in his second year of the One Family camp.
“Here, everyone has gone through something similar. They have lost someone close to them and it makes it a lot easier to open up, to speak about it. Everyone understands that he doesn’t need to be embarrassed. Here, everyone copes with it in his own way. After the camp I feel stronger, with new friends, and more people who understand me.”
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Give thanks to God for this wonderful opportunity from ‘One Family’ to assist families who have lost a member through acts of terror. Pray that each one who attends will begin to heal emotionally and feel stronger after they spend time with people who understand and know how to deal with these special circumstances.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Bridges for Peace is actively involved in helping many Israelis who been injured themselves or have lost family members through acts of terror or war. You can help us in this effort by donating to our Victims of War fund.
Israel Sees Record Rise in Tourism during First Half of 2017
by Ilse Posselt
Thursday, 13 July 2017 | The tiny nation of Israel arguably commands a disproportional share of global news headlines. More often than not, these headlines are anything but positive. In fact, the bulk of Israel-related coverage paints a picture of a country embroiled in perpetual conflict, terror and upheaval. Yet despite the negative press, international visitors continue to flock to the Promised Land.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), tourism to Israel has seen a record rise during the first half of 2017, with a whopping 1.74 million visitors arriving in the Jewish state over the past six months. The number translates to a 26% increase on the 2016 figures for the same period.
Three months ago, April registered the highest-ever number of international visitors for any month since the rebirth of the State of Israel in May 1948. At the time, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin speculated that 2017 might be a record-breaking year for Israeli tourism. With the year just past the half-way mark, it looks like Levin could be spot on.
The month of June once again saw previous years’ records shatter, with a 28.4% increase from the 2016 figure, as 303,400 visitors arrived in the Jewish state to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Moreover, adds CBS, the figures are set to soar again once the peak summer season starts on 1 July.
According to Levin, the record-breaking numbers can be ascribed to dedication, hard work and pioneering initiatives in the Jewish state’s tourism industry. “We are implementing marketing activities and innovative processes to brand Israel and to bring new airlines and new routes into Israel and all this activity proves itself, month after month. The significant increase in incoming tourism numbers makes an exceptional contribution to the Israeli economy and workforce.”
“I am convinced that, with the correct activities, we will continue to see good results in the coming months,” Levin concluded.
The bulk of Israel’s international visitors come from the United States. According to the CBS statistics, 400,600 Americans arrived in the Jewish state over the past six months, which means an increase of 20% from last year’s figure.
The biggest jump of 31% did, however, come from Russia, with 160,800 Russians paying a visit to the Promised Land during the first half of 2017. The Chinese market registered another giant leap, as arrivals grew by 75%, to account for 60,900 Chinese tourists.
Although arrivals from France and Britain did show an increase, the growth was much smaller at 9% and 11% respectively.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 13 July 2017)
Photo Credit: Ron Borkin/Ministry of Tourism
Rejoice as visitors from around the world come to taste and see the truth and real life in Israel. Praise God! Pray that their testimony and experience will bring many more visitors who will decide to stand with Israel in word and deed.
Then they told him, and said: We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.
Rwandan President Visits Israel to Boost Cooperation
by Ilse Posselt
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 | “Israel is coming back to Africa; and Africa is coming back to Israel.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made this statement for the first time in February 2016, when he welcomed Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to Jerusalem. Four months later, this was once again the prime minister’s motto when he embarked on what he hailed as a “historic” five-day trip to four eastern African countries. Then, last month, Netanyahu again repeated the message, this time to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a body that promotes prosperity in the region and represents 15 nations with a combined population of some 320 million.
The prime minister is right. The past two years have seen a renaissance in Israeli-African relations, with high-level Israeli diplomats, officials and investors going to Africa, and their African counterparts making their way to the Promised Land to forge alliances, strengthen current relationships and enter into partnerships.
The latest African leader to visit Israel is Rwandan President Paul Kagame who arrived in the Jewish state on Sunday for a two-day visit. According to Israeli media, Kagame’s trip will focus on investment opportunities, initiatives to boost cooperation, the two countries’ shared experience in facing the aftermath of genocide and the Jewish state’s efforts to take a stand against anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.
Kagame’s itinerary included meetings with both Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem yesterday. “We are two nations who understand the horror of genocide, and we must show what humanity can achieve with cooperation and understanding,” Rivlin told Kagame.
“We know that Rwanda is now going to be a member of the UN Human Rights Council,” Rivlin continued. “This is a body which is always against Israel, so we welcome all those who are prepared to speak for us.”
Netanyahu echoed Rivlin’s statement, saying that both nations have “a tragic legacy.”
“We have pledged, I think both our peoples, one simple pledge: ‘Never again,’” the prime minister said. “Never again—we, who witnessed the greatest holocaust in history, you who witnessed perhaps one of the most recent ones, never again. That is another great bond between us. You have been a consistent friend to us.”
Netanyahu continued by saying that Israel is honored to be at Rwanda’s side on its journey of “rebuilding this torn nation.”
“We could see the impressive gains that you are making. In fact it is our, one of our deepest pleasures to be able to cooperate with you in rebuilding your state, rebuilding it in agriculture and water and so many other areas, and security as well.”
Kagame, for his part, confirmed that “Rwanda is open for business and we look forward to welcoming private sector delegations from Israel even more frequently in the future.”
A strong and outspoken Israel supporter, Kagame has visited the Promised Land a number of times. His last trip was in 2013, to celebrate the 90th birthday of then-President Shimon Peres.
Over the past few years, Kagame has emerged as a key ally for Netanyahu in his attempts to forge closer ties with African countries. The east African country has also backed the Jewish state publicly at the UN and other international organizations. Three years ago, when Rwanda served as one of the ten rotating members of the UN Security Council, the country played a leading role in preventing the Palestinians from passing a motion that would call for Israel’s withdrawal to pre-1967 lines by late 2017.
At the time, Netanyahu described Kagame as “my friend.”
In March this year, Kagame became the first African leader to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee annual conference in Washington DC, where he sang the praises of the Jewish state.
“Rwanda is, without question, a friend of Israel,” Kagame told his audience. “Israel is a nation that has beat all odds every step of the way, and that is, to put it in a context, looking at the hostile environment, sometimes the unsympathetic international community, Israel continues to be secure, to thrive and it has invested in its people; it has developed one of the best economies.”
Rwanda has recently been elected to the presidency of the African Union for the 2018 term. Given Jerusalem and Kigali’s close ties, this might be to Israel’s advantage in its bid to secure observer status in the continental body.
Kagame’s trip to the Promised Land comes almost exactly a year after Netanyahu visited Rwanda. At the time, the prime minister said that he was “deeply impressed with Rwanda. It is a vibrant country. It is a resolute country. And you have accomplished amazing things. And these achievements are even more impressive given the horrors that you had to overcome.”
Kagame was born to Tutsi parents and spent his youth in exile in Uganda. In 1994 he served as the commander of the rebel forces that put an end to the 1994 Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi tribe by Hutu extremists. Kagame became president of Rwanda in 2000 and is credited for leading the country to political and economic stability. He is hailed as Africa’s “biggest success story.”
Source: (Bridges for Peace, 11 July 2017)
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Exalt and glorify God that Rwanda has openly proclaimed its friendship with and support of Israel. Ask God to bless Pres. Kagame for his fearlessness to stand up for Israel in open forums and UN meetings. Pray for wisdom as he will head the African Union and that it will lead to more opportunities to strengthen ties between Israel and other African countries.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.
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