Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, May 15, 2020

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Netanyahu: I Have Formed a Government

by Kate Norman

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Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Benny Gantz

Thursday, 14 May 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday that he successfully formed a government, ending a political gridlock that left Israel without a fully functioning government for 18 months.

Netanyahu submitted a letter yesterday evening to President Reuven Rivlin and current Speaker of the Knesset (Parliament) Benny Gantz announcing his success and asking Gantz to call a vote to swear in the new government.

The Knesset will convene tonight at 6 p.m. to vote to approve the new government. Afterward, each faction will address the body.

The new unity government comprises a coalition of former political rivals, Netanyahu and his Likud party and right-wing/religious political bloc teaming up with Gantz and his centrist Blue and White bloc.

Netanyahu will continue his term for another 18 months while Gantz serves as defense minister and in the new position of alternate prime minister. On November 14, 2021, Netanyahu will pass the baton to Gantz and assume the role of alternate prime minister.

The government will split ministerial positions between the Likud and Blue and White blocs, beginning with 32 minister positions while the government operates in emergency mode to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. Later, it will expand to include 36 ministers—constituting Israel’s largest government to date.

Gantz is currently serving as speaker of the Knesset, a role he took on with right-wing support to put him in a position to negotiate a unity government with Netanyahu. The move angered Gantz’s Blue and White allies and splintered his party, with former ally Yair Lapid breaking away with his Yesh Atid–Telem party to join the opposition.

Nonetheless, Gantz had been given the first mandate by President Rivlin to try to form a government after the last election in April. Pressured by the COVID-19 crisis wreaking havoc on Israel’s public health and economy as well as a desire to avoid a fourth round of elections, Gantz immediately sat down with Netanyahu to put aside their differences and form a unity government with joint leadership.

The ensuing games of political chess saw both leaders divvying out ministerial positions in the Knesset to strengthen their bases. Netanyahu saw the departure of one of his longtime allies, current Defense Minister Naftali Bennett of the Yamina party. Angered by the lack of cabinet positions given to his party, Bennett rejected Netanyahu’s offers to sit in his coalition and will instead join the opposition.

The whole party did not break away however. Netanyahu successfully wooed Yamina member Rafi Peretz to sit in the coalition as the Jerusalem Affairs minister.

The Jerusalem Post’s top political correspondent, Gil Hoffman, tweeted a photo of Netanyahu’s announcement with the caption: “Israel has been waiting for this for 18 months: It’s a formal letter from [Netanyahu] saying he has formed a government.”

Swearing in the new government will pull the Jewish state out of a limbo it has hovered in since December 2018. Whether the unity government—run by leaders with different viewpoints who hold veto power over each other—will function cohesively remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it’s a step forward for Israel.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 14, 2020)

Photo Credit: Netanyahu: U.S. Department of State/wikipedia.org • Gantz: Reuben Kupuchinsky/wikipedia.org

Photo License: Netanyahu: wikipedia.org

Photo License: Gantz: wikipedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God for this step forward for Israel. Thank Him for the cooperation between political leaders with different viewpoints and pray that true unity will be established. Ask the Lord to guide PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gantz as they work to form a solid working relationship, and pray that Israel will continue from strength to strength under their leadership.

Scripture

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forevermore.


- Psalm 133:1,3

Satellite Footage Shows Iran Continuing to Burrow into Syria

by Ilse Strauss

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Satellite image of the countries surrounding Israel

Thursday, 14 May 2020 | Thursday, 14 May 2020 | Despite the Israeli Defense Ministry’s claims that the Iranians are shutting down their military bases, “gradually” withdrawing from Syria and starting on the 1,700 km-journey home to their own country, evidence emerged that the Iranians are not merely staying put but actually cementing their foothold on Israel’s doorstep.

ImageSat International (ISI), a private Israeli satellite imagery analysis company, released images yesterday showing that Iran is building a new underground weapons storage facility at the Imam Ali military base in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq. The base is reportedly under Iranian control.

“The construction of the new tunnel signifies Iran’s commitment to further developing its military presence in this area, despite repeated attacks,” ImageSat said in its assessment.

ISI said work on the underground weapons storage facility may have started as early as March. Satellite images from April 1 show an excavator and bulldozers at work at the base, while images captured on Tuesday reveal significant progress made in a month-and-a-half, with two bulldozers at the entrance of a 15-foot-wide tunnel structure.

According to the ISI assessment, “The tunnel is fit to be used as a shelter and storage for trucks and vehicles, including vehicles carrying advanced missile weapon systems.”

Israel has in the past admitted to striking targets in Syria to prevent to shipment of such weapon systems to Iran’s proxy, the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah.

This is not the first time Iran has tried its hand at constructing an underground weapons storage facility at the Imam Ali base. Last December, ISI published images of the Islamic Republic’s first attempt. Days later, an air strike attributed to Israel obliterated Iran’s work in progress.

Moreover, December was not the first time ISI published satellite proof of the Iranian military entrenching itself on Israel’s doorstep, only to be followed by an air strike—attributed to Israel—on the site the images pinpointed.

If published satellite proof followed by an air strike is indeed the standard sequence of events, Iran’s second attempt in six months at constructing an underground weapons storage facility my soon come to a swift and earth-shattering end.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 14, 2020)

Photo Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC/wikipedia.org

Photo License: wikipedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will act wisely yet decisively to neutralize this threat to their security and the overall stability of the region. Ask the Lord to give Israel true insight into how to bring Iran’s destabilizing influence to an end.

Scripture

He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support.


- Psalm 18:17–18

Israeli Soldier Killed during Arrest Raid in Palestinian Village

by Ilse Strauss

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Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Ygal was killed in a village in northern Samaria.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020 | In the predawn hours of this morning, Staff Sgt. Amit Ben Ygal (21) became the first Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier killed in action in 2020.

Ygal, a combat soldier in the Golani Brigade, was murdered during an IDF arrest raid in the Palestinian village in Ya’bad in northern Samaria when a large rock was hurled from a rooftop and struck his head, the IDF said in a statement.

Troops from the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion were sent to Ya’bad to arrest Palestinians suspected of being members of a terror organization. Following the arrest, Ygal and the rest of the troops were making their way out of the village on foot at around 4:30 a.m. when a group of some 10 Palestinians began hurling rocks from the roof of a nearby home.

According to IDF spokesperson Brig.–Gen. Hidai Zilberman, “The rock hit the soldier directly in the head. The soldier was wearing a helmet. But it hit him at an angle.”

Ygal was airlifted by chopper to Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa where he was pronounced dead.

At the time of going to print, no suspects have been arrested. An investigation has, however, been launched and troops are combing the area in search of the perpetrator.

“The IDF and security forces will get their hands on the degenerate terrorists who are responsible for this. We’ll settle the score,” Defense Minister Naftali Bennett vowed hours after Ygal’s death.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences to the family and echoed the defense minister’s vow, saying, “As has happened in every case in recent years, the long arm of Israel will reach the terrorist and settle the score.”

Ygal’s father, Baruch, told an Israeli radio station that Ygal was their only son and therefore required special permission to serve in a combat position. Ygal’s choice to take his place on the frontlines instead of opting for a safer position was driven by a love for “the people of Israel, the land of Israel.”

“We don’t have anything else. I am broken, I am broken, I am broken, I am crushed,” a distraught Baruch said.

According to the IDF, Ygal has been posthumously promoted from staff sergeant to sergeant 1st class.

In recent months, clashes between Israel and the Palestinians have been few and far between as both sides focused their attention on a common enemy: COVID-19. However, with the fight against coronavirus winding down, it seems that Israel’s enemies are gearing up to step onto the battlefield again.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 12, 2020)

Photo Credit: أمين/wikipedia.org

Photo License: wikipedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for the family of Staff Sgt. Amit Ben Ygal, particularly for his father who has lost his only son. May God bring great comfort to him. May his mind and heart be filled with joyous memories of his son and may he know great pride in a son who chose to put his life on the line because of his love for Israel and the Jewish people. Pray also that the perpetrators of this murder will be found and prosecuted.

Scripture

Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant. Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live.


- Psalm 119:76–77a

Israel to Start Coronavirus Antibodies Tests This Week

by Dr. Itay Gal

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HMOs across Israel will begin testing for coronavirus antibodies this week.

Monday, 11 May 2020 | Israeli HMOs [Health Ministry Organizations] this week are set to begin conducting tests for antibodies meant to reveal if a person had coronavirus and has developed an immunity to it.

It was revealed last week that Israel was to conduct 100,000 serological tests for COVID-19 in an effort to determine the degree of infection in the population after purchasing 2.4 million testing kits over two weeks ago.

If the tests prove to be a success, they would revolutionize the way in which the government has battled the virus until now.

It would allow large parts of the population to be excluded from the need for self-isolation, letting them rejoin the workforce and even allow them to take flights without the need for a subsequent quarantine.

The Health Ministry said if the tests prove to be effective, the first to get tested will be at-risk populations, such as the elderly, people with underlying health conditions and medical staff. The tests will be conducted on a voluntary basis.

The test is performed as a regular blood test and will be conducted at HMO clinics around the country as well as in private homes if the person in question is in self-isolation or unable to leave home for other medical reasons.

The tests are cheap to obtain and very simple to perform, with the results expected in 40 to 50 minutes following the checkup.

The antibodies, which protect the body from the virus, are said to develop some two weeks following the initial exposure to the pathogen. It is still unclear for how long the coronavirus antibodies remain active in the human body.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by YnetNews on May 10, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today and the article has been edited for length. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: geralt/pixabay.com

Photo License: pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for this initiative to determine who in the population has developed antibodies to the coronavirus. Pray that the tests will be successful and accurate. Ask the Lord to move miraculously among the people of Israel so that countless numbers will prove to have immunity, allowing the nation to return to its normal, bustling and thriving state.

Scripture

You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.


- Psalm 91:5–6a, 7

Three Gulf States Want to Partner with Israel to Fight COVID-19

by Kate Norman

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Doctors in the United Arab Emirates

Monday, 11 May 2020 | Times of crisis have a knack for breaking down barriers. The COVID-19 is bridging the gap between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf.

Officials from Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and another unnamed Gulf State are actively cooperating with Israeli researchers and medical experts in the battle against the virus.

Bahrain and the UAE remain in touch with Israel’s Sheba Medical Center—a frontrunner in virus research, an official from the hospital told the Times of Israel. A member of the UAE’s royal family even visited the hospital in March and has kept in contact throughout the pandemic.

The third country, which Yoel Hareven, head of Sheba Medical Center’s international division, would not name, asked the hospital for help installing technology to treat coronavirus patients remotely. Hareven said the nation is not one that has cooperated with Israel in the past. The Times of Israel said it is most likely Kuwait.

The medical cooperation between Israel and the unnamed nation will hopefully bridge the gap on a bigger level, Hareven said.

“You open a small crack and the foot enters the door, and later the whole body and then the head come in,” Hareven said. “It’s indeed the beginning of a very fascinating journey—for the entire Israeli public, not only for the medical field or Sheba Medical Center.”

The cooperation between Israel and the three Gulf States is significant, according to Rabbi Marc Schneier, who orchestrated the connection between Israel and Bahrain using his ties in the region. The three states amount to 50% of the Persian Gulf, Schneier pointed out.

“Throughout the pandemic I have been in contact with all my friends in the Gulf, members of the royal families, ambassadors and so on,” he told the Times of Israel. “They continue to express a desire to cooperate and work with Israel, particularly when it comes to the health industry.”

The UAE’s ambassador to the United Nations said in a Zoom meeting with the American Jewish Committee that Israel’s research on COVID-19 is “very exciting.”

Though the UAE doesn’t currently partner with Israel, Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said in the meeting, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post: “Our perspective on science and tackling this pandemic is that it shouldn’t know borders or boundaries…I’m sure there’s a lot of scope for cooperation.”

As Israeli researchers moved to the foreground of producing a vaccine, Israel’s enemies took notice. The founder of the staunchly anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement—which advocates boycotting Israeli products—said last month that there would be “no problem” with using an Israeli-produced vaccine or Israeli medical equipment.

“Up until now, we have not been in a situation where we need Israel urgently and no one can save us but Israel,” BDS founder Omar Barghouti said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “If that will happen, saving lives is more important than anything else.”

Despite the bias and prejudice coming from their neighbors, Israel has been stepping in to help them. The Israeli Health Ministry has teamed up with its Palestinian Authority (PA) counterparts to coordinate and share supplies and information. Israel has also sent loads of test kits and medical supplies to Gaza as well as the PA to provide for coronavirus patients as well as medical workers.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 11, 2020)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Pyb/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that something good can actually come of this pandemic. As Israeli leaders have worked hard over the past years to open doors of communication and relationship with neighboring Arab states, this collaboration could be invaluable in strengthening those ties further. Pray that such cooperation will continue and be of benefit to all nations involved.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 108:5–6a

Israel to the Rescue: Jerusalem Earmarks NIS 800 Million to Aid Palestinians

by Ilse Strauss

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Israel is set to transfer a loan of NIS 800 million (US $228 million) to the Palestinian Authority on Sunday. (illustrative)

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 | Governments and leaders around the world are reeling from the economic effects of COVID-19—including the Palestinian Authority (PA). As the PA struggles to keep its head above water in the face of critical virus-related tax revenue losses, help is coming from the one source the Palestinians accuse of nearly every evil in the book: the Jewish state.

Israel and the PA inked an agreement on Monday that will see Jerusalem supply Ramallah with NIS 800 million (US $228 million) in loans over the next four months to compensate for tax income lost during the coronavirus. The first installment will be delivered in June.

Officials from both sides confirmed the agreement to the Times of Israel.

The interim peace agreements stipulate that Jerusalem collects taxes from Palestinians working in Israel as well as on Palestinian import and export and then transfers the revenue to the PA every month. The transfer amounts to roughly NIS 500 million (US $142 million) monthly and according to the Times of Israel, constitutes a large portion of the PA’s monthly budget. However, as local economies ground to a COVID-19 halt, the monthly transfers dwindled—and show no sign of revival anytime soon.

The terms of the loan agreement stipulate that Israel will use the NIS 800 million (US $228 million) kitty to top up the monthly transfers to the PA to its regular NIS 500 (US $142 million), even if the revenue collected falls short.

The already cash-strapped PA admitted recently that the coronavirus will deal a death blow to its economy and sent out an SOS to international donors to help make up an expected budget deficit of up to US $2.4 billion.

Israel’s lifeline in the form of the loan has reportedly been in the making since March, when PA Finance Minister Shukri Bishara told Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon during a rare meeting that the PA’s economy would be unable to stand through the pandemic if the revenue dropped below the regular NIS 500 (US $142 million). In the aftermath of the meeting, Finance Ministry officials have been hard at work drafting an agreement that would help the PA economy survive COVID-19.

This is yet another example of the truth being stranger than fiction when it comes to the Israel–Palestinian saga. While the Palestinian propaganda machine steadily churns out tales of horror and woe, accusing Israeli soldiers of spitting on car door handles to spread COVID-19 among the Palestinians and the Israeli government of dooming the Palestinian population to the ravages of the virus without the necessary medical care, the truth is simply that Israel is making every effort to see that everybody makes it to the other side of the pandemic safe and healthy.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 13, 2020)

Photo Credit: NATASHA PASIKOV/pexels.com

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord that the truth of Israel’s aid to Palestinian leadership during this pandemic will become common knowledge, not just in the nations but also for the Palestinian people. Pray that this effort on Israel’s part to rescue the Palestinian economy would be a first step in ending the propaganda war against Israel.

Scripture

And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.


- Genesis 12:2b–3a

Report: France Threatens Israel over Applying Sovereignty to Judea and Samaria

by Kate Norman

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EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell

Tuesday, 12 May 2020 | Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s urging, Israel could begin applying sovereignty over more land in Judea and Samaria—but not without possible retribution from the European Union with France at the helm.

France is not alone. The idea of Israeli sovereignty in the biblical heartland has set other European nations aflutter as well. Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg will also discuss possible action in a meeting of foreign ministers on Friday, three unnamed EU diplomats told Reuters.

What measures the EU would take against Israel is unclear but could involve economic measures to discourage Jerusalem from taking action. Israel and the EU are partners in trade as well as research and development.

The Jewish state is not without friends in the European body, however—though many European nations proudly wave the banner of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS). In order for any anti-Israel action to be approved, all 27 members of the EU must agree. Israel has strong allies in Hungary and the Czech Republic as well as other nations who could veto any such action.

In the three elections Israel has undergone in the last year, Netanyahu has campaigned on a platform to apply sovereignty over more land in Judea and Samaria as well as the Jordan Valley. This was a big point of contention in negotiating the unity government with rival-turned-coalition-partner Benny Gantz, but eventually Gantz conceded and the process could begin as soon as July.

The annexation has already received the nod of approval from the US in President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan, which mapped out a potential two-state solution with Israel annexing more territory in the biblical heartland and the Jordan Valley alongside a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Jerusalem was also encouraged when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in November 2019 that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are “not per se inconsistent with international law.”

Palestinian Authority officials began boycotting the peace plan even before it was released, calling it the “slap of the century,” and their tone didn’t change after the detailed proposal was released.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Joseph Burrell, criticized Trump’s peace proposal in February and warned that any Israeli action to apply sovereignty over the land “if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 12, 2020)

Photo Credit: CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP/flickr.com

Photo License: Flicker.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the Lord will clearly direct Israeli leadership regarding this issue. Beseech Him that they will move forward according to His will and timing with courage and determination. Pray for the leaders of European nations who oppose Israel’s actions, and ask the Lord to open their eyes to the reality of Israel’s right to the land.

Scripture

Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, “I will multiply your descendants…and they shall inherit it [the Land] forever.”


- Exodus 32:13

International Criminal Court to Investigate Israel for War Crimes

by Lawrence A. Franklin~Gatestone Institute

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Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor

Thursday, 14 May 2020 | The International Criminal Court (ICC) appears ready to begin an investigation of alleged war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against Arab civilian citizens of Gaza, the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and east Jerusalem. Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, announced on April 30 that she would proceed with the investigation if the ICC’s pre-trial judges instruct her that she is on solid ground to launch the inquiry.

Even if the judges give Bensouda the go-ahead, it still appears that jurisdictional prohibitions exist, as enumerated in the Hague-based court’s founding document. According to the ICC’s charter, the court cannot investigate the conduct of non-signatory states of the 1998 Rome Statute that established the court. Israel, like the US, is not a signatory of the statute.

Bensouda, by accepting the Palestinian Authority (PA) as plaintiff, further violates the Rome Statute: the ICC is only permitted to investigate allegations brought by a sovereign state. There is no State of Palestine. There are no established boundaries of any possible future Palestinian state. There is no population of a sovereign state to act as a plaintiff, even though representatives of the PA have delivered a brief of charges against Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The New York-based Lawfare Project, representing several pro-Israel NGOs, underscores the incongruity of the prosecutor’s position in incorrectly proffering that any proposed Palestinian state would be achieved by international negotiations, rather than by agreed-upon Israeli–Palestinian face-to-face negotiation, to which the Palestinians have been unwilling to commit. This intransigence could presumably continue in perpetuity, which seems to be the Palestinians’ current game plan. The Israelis then are theoretically supposed to hold all of the disputed territories “in mothballs” forever until the Palestinians might one day feel like showing up at the table? The Lawfare Project therefore posits that these talks are a political rather than judicial matter. The State of Israel and several other “Free World” democracies such as Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, in an appeal to the court, have labelled the chief prosecutor’s actions jurisdictionally irregular and illegal.

Bensouda on April 29 “reiterated her position that Palestine is a state for the purposes of transferring criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague.” She rests her claim to legitimacy on a judgment by the ICC’s former chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo. He counseled that if the PA could achieve recognition by the United Nations [UN] as a non-member state of its General Assembly (UNGA), the ICC could consider Palestinian claims of human rights abuses by the IDF. The UNGA admitted “Palestine” as a non-member state in 2015 by passing Resolution 67/19.

Bensouda’s decision appears to undercut the ICC’s already damaged reputation that it is neither independent nor impartial. The ICC’s budget is limited and increasingly hostage to the UNGA. The UN also appoints the ICC’s panel of judges, an intrinsically political process, subject to bloc voting in the UNGA. The political paralysis of the ICC rendered the court unable to adjudicate upon human rights abuses and genocide in several past crises: the war crimes of the Sudanese paramilitary forces beginning in 2003 in Darfur, Sudan, and the massacres inflicted on Syria’s civilian population by the Syrian national army in that country’s ongoing ten-year civil war.

It is difficult to divine whether or not Bensouda, a Muslim from Gambia in West Africa, has a deep-seated animosity toward Israel. It certainly is possible, though, even if she were from another religion or country, that Bensouda, whose term of office ends in 2021, might not be impervious to anti-Israeli propaganda crafted by elements of the PA.

The spokesman for the 45-member PA Executive Committee that briefed the ICC is Dr. Ghazi Hamad, deputy foreign minister of the terrorist group Hamas, which is unquestionably dedicated to destroying Israel. The committee also includes representatives of two other terrorist organizations besides Hamas, namely, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF).

According to Palestinian Media Watch and Jordan-based Jaffra News, the pre-trial procedures orchestrated by Bensouda may have been part of a charade in an attempt to burnish the ICC’s image of impartiality. Bensouda also met with PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyah on February 15. A recent Jordanian newspaper article reinforces the claim that Bensouda secretly colluded with the PA to target Israel. This collusion between Bensouda and the PA may explain the optimism of longtime Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat that the ICC’s investigation will ultimately be successful.

The US government has clearly expressed its dissatisfaction with Bensouda’s status by revoking her visa to the United States. This action follows similar illegal charges by Bensouda and her push to investigate allegations that US soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Bensouda has already proved her bias by her conduct in a previous investigation of baseless charges of systemic human rights abuses by British military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Notwithstanding Bensouda’s possible collusion with members of the PA, both Israeli and independent investigatory panels have declared Israel’s actions during conflicts with Palestinian terrorist forces to be fully in keeping with the laws of warfare. Independent observers, such as retired British Army Colonel Richard Kemp, a member of the Gaza Commission, have attested to the panel’s refutation of charges that the IDF committed war crimes during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Kemp, who has called Israel’s defense forces “the most moral military in the world,” has repeatedly described how false allegations are leveled against the IDF despite Israel’s painstaking efforts to avoid civilian casualties.

Even the ICC’s main funder, the UN, eventually had to scuttle the Goldstone Report, which one analysis by NGO Monitor, written by a collection of experts, accused of being “a study in evidentiary bias,” “abusing human rights for political warfare,” “tainted to the core” and “a failure of intelligence.”

Legal affairs journalist Yonah Jeremy Bob writes that the IDF conducted at least 500 probes and more than 30 full inquiries into actions taken by Israeli soldiers during the 2014 Gaza conflict. In 2015, a commission of military figures from several democratic states that reviewed the military operations by Israel in the 2014 Gaza war established that “the IDF not only met its obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict but often exceeded these on the battlefield at significant tactical cost.”

Both the US and Israel have chosen wisely not to join the ICC, thus avoiding the danger of their military personnel being scrutinized by a straightforwardly politicized international body whose judgments continue to betray a mindset of politicization and bias.

Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

Source: (Gatestone Institute originally published this article on May 13, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Stephan Röhl/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Plead with the Lord that the illegal investigation of the ridiculous and inflammatory accusations that the IDF is guilty of war crimes is stopped before it gets started. Beseech the Lord that Bensouda’s obvious anti-Israel bias will be brought to world attention and dealt with justly.

Scripture

You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.


- Psalm 5:6

US Secretary of State Touches Down in Israel for Talks on Annexation, Iran

by Kate Norman

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 | A good friend to Israel landed in the Jewish state this morning amid warm welcomes from Israeli political and civic leaders.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touched down in Israel this morning to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and soon-to-be Defense Minister and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. They discussed the growing threat in Iran, strategies to tackle COVID-19 and Israel’s plans to apply sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

“Glad to be in Israel to coordinate with [Netanyahu and Gantz] on countering two critical threats: COVID-19 and Iran,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter. “Israel and the United States will take on these challenges side-by-side.”

Pompeo met with Netanyahu at his residence in Jerusalem first and the two issued a joint statement in which the prime minister thanked President Trump for his tough stance against the Islamic regime in Iran.

After a brief coronavirus-induced lull in tensions between Tehran, Washington DC and Jerusalem, things are heating up again in the region. Over the past weeks, several strikes have been attributed to Israel that targeted weapons shipments from Iran to its proxies in countries neighboring Israel. Both the US and Israel have vowed to halt Iranian aggression, the US focusing on Iran’s work to develop nuclear weapons and Israel on Iranian entrenchment across the Middle East.

“These are all tremendous challenges and opportunities,” Netanyahu said. “We can do them because we have such a powerful bond that makes the alliance between Israel and the US stand out, certainly for us, but for many other countries looking around.”

Next Pompeo met with Gantz, Netanyahu’s former political rival and now unity partner. After three elections in which Gantz tried to oust Netanyahu, the two finally negotiated a unity coalition that will see them serve as prime minister on a rotating basis. The unity government will be sworn in tomorrow.

One of the major obstacles during the coalition negotiations was Netanyahu’s push to annex more land in Judea and Samaria. Gantz conceded, however, and gave up all veto rights, opening the door for Netanyahu to begin as soon as July 1.

President Trump’s “deal of the century” peace plan, which was released in January, gave the green light for Israel to annex Jewish communities in the region alongside a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Before his visit to Israel and amid rumors that the US would urge Israel to delay annexing the land, Pompeo told Israel Hayom that it is, “in the end, an Israeli decision.”

Palestinian leaders began boycotting the peace deal even before it was released, accusing the US of a bias toward Israel. Their refusal to engage in negotiations could hurt them, an anonymous US official told Israel’s Channel 13 News.

“If the Palestinians continue to sit on the side and don’t come to negotiate there will be negative consequences for them and it will make it easier for us to make decisions concerning Israeli annexation,” the unnamed official said.

Pompeo also told Israel Hayom he will discuss with the Israeli leaders joint efforts to develop a vaccine and treatments for COVID-19.

A statement announcing Pompeo’s visit to Israel on his website said: “The US commitment to Israel has never been stronger than under President Trump’s leadership. The United States and Israel will face threats to the security and prosperity of our peoples together.

“In challenging times, we stand by our friends, and our friends stand by us.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 13, 2020)

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for America’s strong support for Israel under President Trump’s administration. Pray that Secretary of State Pompeo’s visit to Israel will be productive, only serving to strengthen the bond between the two nations.

Scripture

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”


- Zephaniah 3:16–17

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