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Israeli Delegation Arrives in Russia amid Jewish Agency Friction
by Kate Norman
Thursday, 28 July 2022 | An Israeli delegation departed for Moscow last night, local media reported, amid Jerusalem’s efforts to stop Russia from halting the Jewish Agency’s operations in the country.
A preliminary district court hearing was scheduled for this morning in Moscow, the Jerusalem Post reported, to hear the Russian Justice Ministry’s claims that the Jewish Agency illegally collected information about Russian citizens.
The Jewish Agency, an autonomous organization that has been operating in Russia since 1989, helps Russian Jews make aliyah (immigration to Israel). As part of the immigration process, the Jewish Agency collects potential immigrants’ background information.
The Israeli delegation comprises representatives from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister’s Office, Justice Ministry and Absorption Ministry, the Times of Israel reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid had ordered the delegation to be prepared to leave on Sunday, but the group reportedly did not receive visas from Russia until yesterday.
The delegation likely will not be present for the court hearing this morning, the Jerusalem Post reported, as the Jewish Agency staff defend themselves against accusations of violating Russian privacy laws.
The incident is cooling relations between Jerusalem and Moscow, as evidenced by Lapid’s warning earlier this week that “the closing of the agency’s offices will be a serious event, which will affect relations.”
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, told reporters yesterday that “the situation should not be politicized or projected onto the entirety of Russian–Israeli relations.”
“There are issues from the point of view of complying with Russian law,” Peskov added, attempting to put the focus back on a legal point of view.
However, the spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, gave a conflicting answer.
“Unfortunately, we heard completely unconstructive and, most importantly, biased rhetoric in the statements that Tel Aviv made in recent months,” Zakharova told a Russian news agency yesterday.
Russia shuttering the Jewish Agency is believed to be punishment for Israel’s stance on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Israel initially worked to maintain a neutral stance on the Russia–Ukraine conflict, as 15% of the Jewish state’s population comprises immigrants and their descendants from the former Soviet Union, mainly Russia and Ukraine.
However, Israel joined 140 other countries in the United Nations in March to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demand that Russian forces withdraw. In April, the Jewish state also joined a vote to remove Russia from the UN’s Human Rights Council in light of its bloody invasion.
As time passed by and more blood was spilled onto Ukrainian soil, Israel and its leaders, particularly Prime Minister Lapid, made stronger statements condemning the Kremlin.
Just days after Lapid took office on July 1, the Jewish Agency in Russia received its first letter of warning from the Russian government ordering the organization to cease all activity.
Different sources from the Jewish Agency said that at first, they tried to handle the matter quietly and internally before involving the Israeli government.
The Israeli delegation has been instructed by Lapid to “make every effort to exhaust the legal dialogue” as well as “high-level diplomatic dialogue” in order to keep the local Jewish Agency’s doors open, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 28, 2022)
Photo Credit: Stas Lobov/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Cry out to the Lord for His wisdom and direction as this delegation works to help restore relations between Moscow and Jerusalem. Pray for the hundreds of Russian Jews waiting to make aliyah who are being used as pawns to punish the Israeli government by rendering the Jewish Agency unable to assist those who need their help.
For thus says the LORD: “Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel!’ Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth.”
‘Maritime Border Dispute with Lebanon on Verge of Solution’
Thursday, 28 July 2022 | Israeli officials believe that the maritime border dispute with Lebanon is “on the verge of a solution,” Israeli media reported on Tuesday.
US Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein is due to visit Lebanon next week, according to Kan News, and will arrive with a draft compromise proposal enabling both countries to drill for gas in the Karish gas field.
“In Israel, the declarations by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are being viewed as an attempt to frame the latest development, so that if an agreement is reached on the maritime dispute, it will be [seen as being] due to his declarations and actions,” the officials told Kan.
At the same time, an Israeli senior official said that any attack by Hezbollah on the Karish offshore gas platform will be met with a military response.
The Israel Defense Forces has in recent days raised its readiness around the gas platform further, and mobilized navy and air force assets to the area.
Nasrallah on Monday threatened war if Israel begins extracting gas from its offshore Karish field without first resolving the maritime border dispute with Lebanon.
Photo Credit: Alma/jns.org
Pray for a just and fair resolution to this border dispute. Ask the Lord to guard Israel’s interests in any discussions or compromise and cry out to Him for His protection from any military action that might be considered by Israel’s enemies. Pray that the presence of the IDF will be a deterrent until agreements are finalized.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the children of Israel, and say to them: When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance…As for the western border, you shall have the Great Sea for a border; this shall be your western border.
IDF Chief’s Historic Visit to Morocco
by Lilach Shoval ~ Israel Hayom via Jewish News Syndicate
Friday, 22 July 2022 | On the second day of his historic visit to Morocco, IDF [Israel Defense Forces] Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Wednesday toured the “Ben Grier” airbase of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, as well as neighborhoods where the country’s Jewish community developed.
Kochavi’s three-day visit, the first-ever public visit by Israel’s top soldier in uniform to the Arab state, is being hosted by Moroccan Defense Minister Abdellatif Loudiyi and army commander Lt. Gen. Belkhir el-Farouk. Kochavi is accompanied on the trip by the head of the IDF Intelligence Research Division, Brig. Gen. Amit Sa’ar.
At the airbase, Kochavi met with commander Col. Maj. Hassan Mahuar, and the two discussed cooperation between the countries’ air forces.
On Tuesday, Kochavi and his delegation toured the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces’ Paratroopers Brigade headquarters.
Kochavi later met with members of the Moroccan Jewish community in Marrakesh.
“Morocco is an ally to Israel, and is an example of deep connections between peoples based on a common heritage,” he said during that meeting.
IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav said prior to the trip that “one of the subjects that will be discussed [in Morocco] this week will be knowledge-sharing, training—the ability to train together in joint maneuvers—weapons development, the transfer of know-how and perhaps also of weaponry.”
The Kan News public broadcaster said Kochavi’s talks with Moroccan officials would also take up Iran’s influence in the region.
The Israeli business newspaper Globes reported in February that state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries [IAI] would sell Morocco the Barak air and missile defense system in a $500 million deal. Neither country has publicly confirmed that report, and neither has IAI.
Last month, Israeli military officials participated as observers in a major military drill in Morocco, which saw the participation of troops from the United States, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Chad, Brazil, the United Kingdom and others.
In November of last year, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Morocco, where he signed a memorandum of understanding with his Moroccan counterpart to allow defense and military cooperation between the defense establishments in the two countries.
Morocco was the fourth Arab country to normalize relations with Israel in 2020 within the framework of the “Abraham Accords” after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, in a move decried by Palestinians as a “stab in the back.”
“Not everything is about security,” Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli told Reuters regarding ties with Morocco. “There are wide interests that we have together and we share.”
She credited Morocco with mediating a deal to permanently open a border crossing from Jordan to Judea and Samaria that is important for Palestinian traffic, and said she was in talks with Rabat about other infrastructure projects.
“Morocco is the player that is able to bring everyone together, to soften everybody’s hardships around whatever issue there is,” Michaeli said in an interview. “They just have a way of speaking to everyone in a way that gets them around the table and gets them to cooperate.”
The Israeli military said it hosted a Moroccan commando unit for a multi-nation exercise in July 2021, established direct military ties with Rabat in March 2022 and, last month, hosted Moroccan top brass to agree on a year-long joint work program.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Source: (This article was originally published by Israel Hayom via Jewish News Syndicate on July 21, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/jns.org
Thank the Lord that Morocco opened its doors to Lt. Gen. Kochavi for this historic visit. Pray that it will serve to further cement the relationship between Israel and Morocco and pray that their joint projects will improve security and bring great blessing to both nations and to the region.
I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Iran: UN Watchdog Cameras Staying off until Nuclear Deal Revived
by Kate Norman
Tuesday, 26 July 2022 | The head of Iran’s nuclear organization announced yesterday that the regime will not turn UN cameras monitoring its nuclear facilities back on until the nuclear deal is revived, according to state media.
Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, also announced that the regime will not account for traces of uranium found at three undeclared nuclear sites.
Last month the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, passed an official resolution condemning the Iranian regime’s failure to address the traces of uranium.
However, the 2015 nuclear deal, Eslami claimed yesterday, supposedly laid to rest any doubts of Iran’s nuclear program containing PMD (possible military dimensions).
“The claimed PMD cases and locations were closed under the nuclear accord and if they [the West] are sincere, they should know that closed items will not be reopened,” Eslami declared, as quoted by state media. “The basis of the nuclear accord was a response to these alleged cases.”
On Friday, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said in an interview with Spanish El Pais that Iran’s nuclear program “is advancing at a gallop and we have very little visibility.”
Little visibility indeed, as Iran removed 27 IAEA cameras from its nuclear sites after the watchdog organization passed the resolution criticizing the Islamic republic last month.
“We will not turn on the IAEA cameras until the other side returns to the nuclear deal,” Eslami asserted.
“We will decide about the…cameras added under the nuclear deal after the Westerners return to the accord and we are sure they won’t do anything mischievous,” the nuclear chief added.
As Eslami himself said, the cameras and other IAEA monitoring equipment were installed to monitor Iran’s nuclear sites as stipulated under the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Former US President Donald Trump exited the deal in 2018, arguing that it was ineffective in preventing Iran from continuing its nuclear development and ultimately achieving a nuclear weapon.
A year after Trump left the deal and reimposed crippling sanctions against the regime, Iran began openly and progressively violating its restrictions under the JCPOA. Eslami’s announcements yesterday are merely the latest in a chain of Iran’s nuclear violations since 2019.
In fact, the chief of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Kamal Kharazi, last week told Al Jazeera that “it is no secret that we have the technical capabilities to manufacture a nuclear bomb, but we have no decision to do so.”
Kharazi said the regime enriched uranium up to 60% in just a few days—just a short technological step away from enriching up to 90% purity, the threshold to produce a nuclear weapon.
As IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Friday, Tehran’s nuclear program “has grown enormously, far beyond what it was in 2015.”
Grossi added “this does not imply that Iran is making a nuclear weapon, but no country that does not have warlike projects enriches at that level, 60%.”
Multiple attempts to negotiate a return to the nuclear deal over the past year have proven fruitless, as both Iran and the US and its Western allies have drawn lines that they will not cross to sign another nuclear accord.
Not turning the monitoring cameras on is the latest card for Iran to play in the nuclear card game. Its previous sticking point was refusing to return to the JCPOA unless the US removes Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which Washington refused to do. Yet the dance around the negotiating table continues.
A spokesman from Iran’s Foreign Ministry said at a news conference yesterday that Western world powers “demand that Iran makes a quick decision, [insisting that] time is limited and Iran must respond quickly.” But Iran will not fold under “a rushed process,” he added.
The process is rushed for good reason, as experts have postulated that Iran is making such quick and strong strides in its nuclear development program that soon enough, any nuclear deal attempting to curb its nuclear ambition would be a moot point and ineffective.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 26, 2022)
Photo Credit: IAEA Imagebank/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray that the nations of the world will not be intimidated by Iran’s posturing and disingenuous statements, but will instead meet their blustering with wisdom and courage. Beseech the Lord for a solution that will end the Iranian nuclear threat once and for all.
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
Defense Minister: Russia Fired Anti-aircraft Missiles at Israeli Jets over Syria
by Kate Norman
Wednesday, 27 July 2022 | Amid rising tensions between Israel and Russia, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed yesterday that Russian troops in Syria fired anti-aircraft missiles toward Israeli jets in May, though they missed their target.
The incident reportedly took place when the Israeli fighter jets were returning from a mission in Masyaf in northwestern Syria. Masyaf has reportedly been an Israeli target before, as it hosts a base for Iranian and pro-Iranian forces, the Times of Israel reported.
The strike appears to have destroyed an underground facility, the Times of Israel added, according to satellite images taken after the strike.
But as the planes were returning home, they were fired at by Russian advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, though the missiles did not lock onto their targets and missed, Gantz told a conference hosted by Channel 13 news yesterday.
“It was a one-off incident,” Gantz said, adding that the planes were out of the area when the anti-aircraft missiles were fired and therefore that they were not in danger.
Russia holds a significant presence in Syria and maintains control over Syrian airspace.
Israeli jets regularly travel through Syrian airspace to conduct strikes against Iranian and pro-Iranian terror targets planted in Syria. Therefore, it is believed that Moscow gives the Israeli Air Force the green light for its jets to pass through the airways.
May’s incident is reportedly the first time that Israeli jets in Syria have been fired at by Russian anti-aircraft missiles.
Nonetheless, Gantz said that it is “a situation that is stable right now.”
Relations between Jerusalem and Moscow have been strained amid Russia’s attempt to shut down the Jewish Agency’s operations within its borders. The Jewish Agency is an autonomous organization that works to facilitate Jewish immigration to Israel. Its shuttering, therefore, would threaten the ability of Russian Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).
Russia’s action was seen as an attempt to punish Israel for its increasingly pro-Ukrainian stance.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Jewish state originally sought to take a neutral stance to protect the large populations of Jewish people in both Russia and Ukraine.
Russia’s control over the Syrian skies was also likely taken into consideration.
As Israel has reportedly conducted several other strikes in Syria since the May operation without any incident, Russia does not appear to be closing the airspace over Syria to Israeli jets—yet.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 27, 2022)
Photo Credit: EllsworthSK/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Pray that this was indeed a one-off incident. Cry out to the Lord that Syrian air space will remain open so that Israel can conduct whatever operations it deems necessary to keep Iran and its terror proxies in check.
The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
Israeli Navy Sinks Palestinian Vessel ‘Smuggling Arms’ to Hamas in Gaza
Monday, 25 July 2022 | The Israeli Navy on Saturday night sank a Palestinian vessel sailing towards Gaza from Egypt, the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] Spokesperson Unit said in a statement.
The vessel had entered a restricted sea area off the southern Gaza Strip, in violation of security restrictions, according to the IDF.
Navy sailors ordered the vessel to stop and fired on it after receiving no response, in line with standard operational procedure. Those who had been aboard swam to the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.
“The supplies on board the vessel were intended for the Hamas terrorist organization,” the military said in a statement.
Kan News reported that the supplies in question were arms destined for Hamas in Gaza, and that the vessel sank.
On July 15, the Israeli Air Force conducted two strikes on Hamas weapon production facilities in the Gaza Strip, following two separate rocket attacks in which four rockets were launched at Israeli territory.
One of the targets hit in Gaza was a Hamas military site consisting of an underground complex containing raw materials used for the manufacturing of rockets, the IDF Spokesperson Unit said in a statement at the time.
Photo Credit: Jamal Awad/Flash90/jns.org
Pray for the success of Israel’s ongoing operations intended to keep a constant supply of weapons out of the hands of Hamas terrorists. Pray that the Lord will stop every shipment at every border including the seacoast and will empower the IDF to find and destroy every weapons storehouse and manufacturing site within Gaza’s borders.
Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
Gantz: Middle East Nations ‘Understand Israel Is an Asset’
by Joshua Spurlock ~ The Mideast Update
Tuesday, 26 July 2022 | With the threat of a nuclear Iran looming in the background, and the successful and expanding Abraham Accords making good news in the foreground, Israel’s neighbors are seeing the Jewish nation in a positive light according to Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “The countries of the region understand that Israel is here to stay and that Israel is not a burden but rather an asset,” said Gantz last Thursday in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum that was republished by Israel. “Our excellent relations with the US can be used as a bridge. Israel does not threaten the countries of the region, while Iran does.”
In his comments, Gantz celebrated Israel’s integration into the broader Middle East, noting that since the Abraham Accords were signed in 2020, Israel has been in “hundreds of meetings and discussions” and “participated in at least 10 multinational exercises” with regional partners. Gantz also alluded to the Middle East Air Defense Alliance while noting that “we are creating a regional architecture for defense.”
The reason this cooperation is so critical? Iran.
“Iran is first a global challenge, then a regional challenge and only lastly it is a threat to the State of Israel. We can see it everywhere around the world—the Iranian impact in Venezuela, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen,” said Gantz. “The Saudis and the Emiratis also suffer from Iranian attacks; Iran does not only pose a threat to the State of Israel.”
That doesn’t mean that Israel is not uniquely threatened by Iran, which more than once has called for Israel’s destruction and actively sponsors terror groups that regularly attack or endanger Israel. “I do not know of another country that has another country, in this case Iran, threatening its existence and building the means to do so. The government and leadership of Israel has a historic responsibility to build our capabilities and to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear,” said Gantz.
The Iranian nuclear threat has recently become more urgent, with the Islamic Republic expanding their nuclear fuel production and quality—thereby reducing the so-called “breakout” time needed to develop a nuclear weapon. This comes as the major world powers have had extensive and so far fruitless discussions with Iran aiming to resurrect the nuclear deal that exchanged sanctions relief for self-imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.
Gantz, in the “fireside chat” moderated by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, highlighted the danger posed by a nuclear Iran—who already is a leading sponsor of terrorism. “We can see Iran’s malign activity in the region without a nuclear canopy, without nuclear deterrence. Imagine what they would do with it,” said Gantz. “And that’s why we cannot let Iran become a nuclear [state].”
One noteworthy party that has not yet joined the Abraham Accords is the Palestinian Authority [PA], but Gantz still has hopes that the regional peace deals can impact Israel’s closest ongoing conflict. “I believe that we can leverage the Abraham Accords and ties with regional partners in order to strengthen the PA and promote confidence-building measures. From a Jewish, Zionist, and democratic perspective, I would like to see a better future between us and the Palestinians and that includes separating from the Palestinians,” said Gantz, presumably referencing a two-state solution to the territorial dispute.
The Abraham Accords were unusual in that they managed to achieve diplomatic normalization between Israel and [several] Arab nations in the region without Israel surrendering territory to the Palestinians or others.
However, even without their closest neighbors being part of the Abraham Accords, Israel’s top defense official still sees the peace agreement as a wide-ranging success almost two years after it was signed.
“The Abraham Accords enable us to expand our relations [with regional partners] in security aspects, in business to business [frameworks], organizations to organizations, and people to people,” said Gantz.
After noting the military cooperation in the region, he added, “I am very happy that the US has led this and that the region’s leaders have realized and taken this opportunity. We are creating a better Middle East.”
Source: (This article was originally published by The Mideast Update on July 24, 2022. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)
Photo Credit: Lisa Ferdinando / U.S. Secretary of Defense/commons.wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
Praise the Lord for the incredible changes that the Abraham Accords have precipitated in the Middle East. Pray that Israel’s relationships with her neighbors will continue from strength to strength and that more Arab nations will join those that are already recognizing Israel as an asset, not a burden, and a critical partner for peace. Pray that their regional architecture for defense will be successful in safeguarding the region and the world from a nuclear Iran.
For I proclaim the name of the LORD: ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.
Israeli Exports on Track to Break Record in 2022
Wednesday, 27 July 2022 | Israeli exports are on track to reach an all-time record of [USD] $165 billion in 2022—a 15% increase from 2021.
In 2021, Israeli exports hit [USD] $143 billion, which itself was a record, according to figures released by Israel’s Foreign Trade Administration and presented by Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai, Israeli business daily Globes reported on Wednesday.
“The report showed that for the first time in 2021 exports of Israeli services outstripped those of goods, by 52% to 48%, and this trend is expected to continue, with the gap widening in favor of services,” according to Globes.
Exports of goods increased by 17% in 2021 compared to the previous year, while service exports grew by 34%.
“The 2021 figures surprised us as being exceptional, especially compared with previous years, including the years before COVID and global economic crises,” said Foreign Trade Administration head Ohad Cohen according to the report.
“The data for growth in the services sector are the result of unprecedented growth in the export of services in recent years, especially over the past year by the high-tech sector and the transport services sector, which also saw a significant rise in prices,” he added.
Photo Credit: Jorge Novominsky/Flash 90/jns.org
Praise God for this excellent news on Israel’s economic front. Thank the Lord as He clearly continues to fulfill His promises to His chosen Land and people. Pray that every Israeli will recognize with gratitude His hand in the successes of the nation. Also ask the Lord to continue to reveal Himself to the nations through His faithfulness to Israel.
And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first…Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it.
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