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Every week, we post from 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.

Trump Promises Abbas: We Will Get Peace Done

by Ilse Posselt

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US President Donald Trump and PA President Mahmoud Abbas

Thursday, 04 May 2017 | In 1947 the United Nations Partition Plan offered a framework aimed at securing peace between Jews and Palestinians. The Promised Land, the resolution recommended, should be divided to create independent Jewish and Arab states existing peacefully next to one another.

The Jews accepted the offer and rejoiced at the prospect of living in harmony on a tiny patch of the original land pledged as an inheritance to Abraham’s descendants. The Arabs scoffed at the proposal, opting instead to wage a war to drive the Jews into the sea. This signaled the start of a pattern of violence and rebuffed opportunities for peace that would repeat itself for the next few decades.

The chronicles of the past 70 years stand as witness to this pattern, telling of the endeavors by state leaders and world bodies laboring for harmony—and the startling rebuttals by Palestinian leaders, denoting yet another failed episode in the quest for reconciliation on the strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Yet despite the dismal track record, US President, Donald Trump, is optimistic that he can finally bring a solution that would help Israelis and Palestinians reach an agreement. Speaking yesterday during a meeting with Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, Trump vowed, “We will get it done.”

Trump welcomed the PA president yesterday at the White House for the first face-to-face meeting between the two. Abbas was reportedly invited to Washington as part of Trump’s efforts to kick-start Middle East reconciliation talks. This meeting marks the third get-together between the US president and an Arab statesman in a month. Trump hosted the Egyptian president and the king of Jordan early in April. And as with the meetings with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Abdullah II, the matter of peace between Israel and the Palestinians was the main agenda point.

Trump has long since expressed his interest in spearheading a successful Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, hailing it as “the ultimate deal.” Moreover, according to reports, the US president has already embarked on his attempts to hammer out such a deal.

Yesterday’s meeting between Trump and Abbas again underscored the US president’s optimism regarding a harmonious future in the Middle East. Speaking during a joint press conference from the White House’s Roosevelt Room, the US president vowed, “We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. It has been a long time, but we will be working diligently, and I think there is a very, very good chance.”

Addressing Abbas, Trump continued, “I will do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement. But I would love to be a mediator or an arbitrator or a facilitator.”

“Over the course of my lifetime, I have always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Let us see if we can prove them wrong.”

The discussion on the prospective peace process continued over a working lunch between Trump and Abbas, with the US president remarking that the elusive accord might not be the unattainable quest that others have claimed in the past.

“It is something that I think is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years,” he told Abbas. “We need two willing parties. We believe Israel is willing. We believe you are willing. And if you are willing, we are going to make a deal.”

For his part, Abbas used the joint press conference to bemoan the supposed plight of the Palestinian people under what he referred to as Israel’s “occupation of our people and our land.”

The PA president added that he was looking forward to partnering with Trump “in order to come to that deal, to that historic agreement, historic deal to bring about peace.” He was, however, quick to dictate the Palestinian terms and prerequisites for such an agreement: a return to pre-1967 lines as well as a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem. Israel has long since held that a lasting peace could only be reached through direct negotiations without any pre-existing conditions between the two parties involved.

The PA president also did his best to assure Trump that the Palestinian people “are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace. And we are endeavoring to bring about security, freedom and peace for our children to live like the other children in the world.”

Unconvinced by the PA president’s guarantee of fostering an atmosphere conducive to peace under his leadership, Trump used the joint statement to contradict Abbas’s claim. “There can be no lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate,” the US president warned. “There is such hatred,” he pointed out. “But hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long.”

A readout of the face-to-face meeting published yesterday afternoon also makes it clear that Trump took Abbas to task over Palestinian leader’s incitement aimed at instilling hatred among the youth; its leniency when it comes to terror attacks on Israel; and its policy of offering social welfare payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists guilty of perpetrating attacks on Israelis.

“President Trump emphasized the importance of making a clear commitment to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and to stopping incitement, and to continue strengthening efforts to combat terrorism,” the readout said.

“President Trump raised his concerns about payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed terrorist acts, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue,” the statement continued.

As the meeting drew to a close and Abbas prepared to peddle the Palestinian victim narrative to other high-level dignitaries before heading home to Israel, a surprising twist of events cast further doubt on both Abbas’s ability to govern and his capability to serve as a peace partner. While the PA president went to Washington as a supposed representative of the Palestinian people, it became apparent that he does not speak on behalf of all the people he claims to represent. As soon as yesterday’s press conference came to an end, Hamas, the terror organization ruling over the Palestinians in Gaza, spoke out strongly against Abbas, rejecting his statements.

“No one authorized Mahmoud Abbas to represent the Palestinian people, and everything that he issued in terms of positions are not binding,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri fumed via Twitter.

With tensions continuing to rise among the people with whom Israel is supposed to form a lasting accord of harmony, it remains to be seen which road Trump will take in his attempt to reach the elusive peace agreement.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 04 May 2017)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Donald Trump Speeches & Press Conference/Youtube

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord regarding all discussions between Abbas and President Trump about the peace process. Pray for God’s will to be done as Abbas still refers to Israel as an occupier. Bring Israel’s leaders before God and pray for wisdom and knowledge to solve the ongoing conflict.

Scripture

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.


- Proverbs 28:26

Netanyahu: Israel Coordinating with Russia in Syria

by Itamar Eichner

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The Adir F-35 and Sufa F-161 jets in Israel (illustrative)

Thursday, 04 May 2017 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that Israeli efforts to stop weapons transfers from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah are conducted in coordination with Russia so as to avoid a clash between the two countries.

Netanyahu made his comments during an interview with Israeli Russian-language news channel, Israel Plus.

According to Netanyahu, during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the issue of the Syrian Civil War was discussed.

“I flew to Moscow and told him the following: ‘We are working in Syria to prevent the transfer of very dangerous weapons by Iran via Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and I will continue to order the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to act against these transfers,'” said Netanyahu.

“I told Putin there are two options: Either we coordinate between our two armies so that there are no clashes, or we clash. I told him I’d rather we coordinated to avoid a collision and he agreed. Every few months we have to tighten the screws and we are working to prevent a clash between our armies.”

Netanyahu added, “The important point is to prevent a clash and we have succeeded thus far. The second thing is to prevent Iranian military buildup in Syria. Let’s imagine that Iran will succeed in obtaining a seaport on the Mediterranean in Syria; imagine Iranian submarines sailing here along our shipping routes. I told Putin ‘I don’t think it’s good for your interests either.'”

According to Netanyahu, there has been great change in the attitude of the countries of the region to Israel and its status.

“If in the past they saw us as an enemy, today they see Israel as a strong ally in the struggle,” said Netanyahu. “There is a struggle against radical Islam and both its factions, led by Shiite Iran and by Sunni ISIS. These countries understand today that Israel is a huge force for security and exports, and this creates different possibilities in our region.”

Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Ynetnews on 03 May 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Major Ofer, Israeli Air Force/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for PM Netanyahu, praying for clear communication with Russia as he adamantly states that Israel will respond militarily when its security is threatened. Ask God to shelter and guide Israel as they coordinate with Russia to protect the nation from radical Islam.

Scripture

Like birds flying about, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it.


- Isaiah 31:5

UN Body Passes Yet Another Resolution Denying Jewish Ties to Jerusalem

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Wednesday, 03 May 2017 | The cultural organization of the United Nations on Tuesday adopted a third resolution indicating that Israel has no historical or legal right to any part of Jerusalem, ignoring the Jewish people’s millennia-old bond with the city.

The UNESCO resolution, which was voted on as Israel celebrated its 69th Independence Day, was introduced by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, The Times of Israel reported. It passed by a vote of 22 to 10, with twenty abstentions. Those opposing the resolution included the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuanian, Greece, Paraguay, Ukraine, Togo, and Germany.

In October, UNESCO passed two similar, widely-criticized resolutions denying historical Jewish ties to Jerusalem. Notably, those resolutions passed just as Israeli archaeologists identified the location where Roman troops breached the walls of Jerusalem before destroying the Jewish Temple nearly 2,000 years ago, and unveiled a 2,700-year-old ancient manuscript with the oldest non-biblical reference to Jerusalem in Hebrew. Both discoveries, among others last year, further attested to the extensive historical ties between Jews and Jerusalem.

“There are no other people in the world for who Jerusalem is as holy and important as for the Jewish people,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem ahead of the vote. “Even though a meeting will take place at UNESCO today that will try to deny this historical truth.”

The earlier UNESCO resolutions, which only affirmed Jerusalem’s sanctity for Muslims, were mocked by Rep.Ted Lieu (D – Calif.), who declared that UNESCO operated in an “alternate universe where you will see unicorns and flying dragons” but no Jews or Christians.

While the latest resolution acknowledges Jerusalem’s importance to all three Abrahamic faiths, it calls Israel an “occupying power” in Jerusalem and affirms UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns Israeli presence in eastern Jerusalem, where the Western Wall and Temple Mount are located.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the World Jewish Congress last week that denying Israel’s right to exist is a “modern form of anti-Semitism” and had previously stated “that a Jewish temple once stood on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.” Guterres has not yet weighed in on the latest UNESCO resolution.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 02 May 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Bomshtein/shutterstock.com

Prayer Focus
Ask God to convict the hearts of all those who voted against Israel and compel those who sit on the fence fearing to vote, to publicly stand with Israel. Proclaim the words of the prophet Isaiah regarding Zion, the city of Israel’s appointed feasts and call upon the Lord to save His people.

Scripture

Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet home, a tabernacle that will not be taken down; not one of its stakes will ever be removed, nor will any of its cords be broken. For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us.


- Isaiah 33:20, 22

Top Red Cross Official in Israel: “There Is No Apartheid Here”

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Jacques de-Maio, ICRC Head of Delegation in Israel

Thursday, 04 May 2017 | The International Committee of the Red Cross’ (ICRC) representative to Israel and the Palestinian Authority affirmed this week that Israel neither practices apartheid nor carries out extrajudicial killings.

In an interview with Ynet, Jacques De Maio dismissed the two controversial charges, noting that “in contrast to the security systems in many countries, including Western ones, Israel allows us rapid access to senior military, prison and other security services.”

“We have a productive, efficient and professional dialogue with them,” he added. “We checked with them the question of the shooting of perpetrators of terror attacks, and we came to the unequivocal conclusion that there are no shoot to kill orders of suspects by IDF (Israel Defense Forces), as some political elements tried to convince us. Rules of engagement have not changed, and became even stricter.”

De Maio explained that when individual soldiers act in violation of IDF guidelines, the ICRC reports the activity and usually receives a “substantive” response from authorities. “So we rejected the accusation, and immediately there were those who claimed that we were whitewashing IDF war crimes and serving the Zionists,” he said.

In response to accusations that Israel practices apartheid, De Maio observed that “the Red Cross was very familiar with the regime that prevailed in South Africa during the apartheid period, and we are responding to all those who raise their claim of apartheid against Israel: No, there is no apartheid here, no regime of superiority of race, of denial of basic human rights to a group of people because of their alleged racial inferiority.”

“There is a bloody national conflict, whose most prominent and tragic characteristic is its continuation over the years, decades-long, and there is a state of occupation. Not apartheid,” he stressed.

Nkululeko Nkosi, a South African youth leader, strongly rebuked the charge that Israel is an apartheid state earlier this month and called on activists to stop appropriating the term when describing its conflict with the Palestinians.

Benjamin Pogrund, an activist who was jailed for opposing the apartheid regime in South Africa, wrote in The New York Times last month that Israel “is nothing like South Africa before 1994. Those who accuse Israel of apartheid—some even say, ‘worse than apartheid’—have forgotten what actual apartheid was, or are ignorant, or malevolent.”

“South African apartheid rigidly enforced racial laws,” Pogrund observed. “Israel is not remotely comparable. Yet the members of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement are not stupid. For them to propagate this analogy in the name of human rights is cynical and manipulative. It reveals their true attitude toward Jews and the Jewish state. Their aims would eliminate Israel. That is what’s at stake when we allow the apartheid comparison.”

South African human rights activist Tshediso Mangope drew upon the history of his country in order to refute inaccurate portrayals of Israel, such as that it is an apartheid state, in a December 2016 article in The Tower magazine.

Jews, Mangope noted, are not foreign conquerors of Israel, but rather its indigenous people; no one could reasonably argue that “returning to your ancestral homeland from whence you were displaced makes you a settler.” He also pointed out that while black South Africans had support from surrounding nations in their struggle, Israeli Jews historically have been shunned by their Arab neighbors, most of whom at some point have “vowed to wipe Israel off the map.”

While the central goal of black South African activists was peaceful coexistence, “most Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist,” and even “essentially supported the call for the genocide of Jewish people,” Mangope noted. He concluded by writing that “the only way to protect Jewish people from all the hardships they have suffered the world over is to defend their inalienable right to self-determination” in a Jewish state.

Maj. Alaa Waheeb, the highest ranking Muslim officer in the IDF, wrote an op-ed in the Jewish News in March 2016 expressing pride in the role he plays in Israeli society. He recounted being on a speaking tour of the United Kingdom with a Jewish medic: “We were the Muslim who protects Jewish lives, and the Jew who saves Muslim lives. There’s only one country in the Middle East that could produce a couple like that—and it sure as hell isn’t an apartheid state.”

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 27 April 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/ICRC ILOT/Youtube

Prayer Focus
Pray for the voices proclaiming the truth of Israel to the world! Give thanks for those fighting BDS movements like Nkosi, Pogrund and Mangope. Praise God that the Red Cross has finally realized the truth and declared it publicly.

Scripture

He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.


- Numbers 24:9

All 100 Senators Call for End to Anti-Israel Bias at UN

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Seal of the United States Senate

Monday, 01 May 2017 | All 100 members of the US Senate signed a letter Thursday urging the United Nations (UN) to stop unfairly targeting Israel.

The senators noted that while the US co-founded the UN “with the intention of saving future generations from war,” today many member states and agencies “are using the UN’s privileged platform to advance an anti-Israel agenda.”

“Although, as Republicans and Democrats, we disagree on many issues, we are united in our desire to see the United Nations improve its treatment of Israel and eliminate anti-Semitism in all its forms,” they stressed.

The lawmakers praised UN Secretary-General António Guterres for insisting that the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), a body comprised of 18 Arab states, rescind a controversial anti-Israel report it issued last month. They specifically proposed four areas for UN reform regarding Israel:

“• Eliminating or reforming UN Committees ‘which far too often serve no other purpose than to attack Israel.’

“• Stopping the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from approving resolutions that ‘target Israel and deny the Jewish and Christian connections to Jerusalem.’ Such resolutions ‘undermine the credibility of the organization.’

“• Insist that United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) stop ‘perpetuating anti-Israel bias and activities,’ or face ‘significant consequences.’

“• Reforming the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which instead of  ‘shining a light on gross human rights violations’ is composed of ‘some of the world’s worst human rights violators,’ and ‘devotes time to unwarranted attacks on Israel.’ The letter quoted remarks made in March by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erin Barclay, who told the council that its ‘obsession with Israel … is the largest threat to the Council’s credibility.’”

Noting that the US is both the UN’s “principal founding member and its largest contributor,” the senators urged Washington to “insist on reform.” The “continued targeting of Israel by the UN Human Rights Council and other UN entities is unacceptable,” they stressed.

“If you continue to build on your recent actions, we stand ready to work with you to eliminate the organization’s anti-Israel bias and to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms,” the lawmakers concluded.

Washington’s ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said February that the US “will not turn a blind eye” to the UN’s anti-Israel bias. When she took over the presidency of the UN Security Council earlier this month, Haley told Fox News that the body had been bashing Israel “every single month for ten years.”

In addition to disavowing the ECOWAS report, Guterres on Sunday pledged to be “on the front lines in the fight against anti-Semitism” and acknowledged that “the modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the existence of the State of Israel.”

In line with the Senate letter, Guterres said in January that Israel should be treated as any other nation by the UN General Assembly, which adopted 20 resolutions against the Jewish state in 2016 and only six on the rest of the world combined.

In December, then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged his organization’s bias against Israel, saying, “Decades of political maneuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel.” Ban also criticized the UNHRC’s singular focus on Israel shortly after assuming his post in 2007, saying that he was “disappointed at the council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

The Associated Press (AP) reported in June that Israel is the only country in the world that “has its record inspected at every single session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.” The AP added that one of the driving forces behind the UN’s focus on Israel is the influential Organization for Islamic Cooperation, which often spearheads the push for anti-Israel resolutions.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 28 April 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ipankonin/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Praise God for the example the US Senate is setting to reform the anti-Israel actions of the UN. Pray for strength for Nikki Haley so she can persist in her struggle to overcome the UN’s anti-Israel bias and activities and boldly ask for more nations to follow suit.

Scripture

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.


- Genesis 12:2-3

Top Abbas Adviser: It Would be “Insane” for PA to Stop Paying Terrorists

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Nabil Shaath, foreign policy adviser to Abbas

Friday, 05 May 2017 | A top adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday harshly rejected the United States’ “insane” demand that the Palestinian Authority [PA] stop paying salaries to convicted terrorists and their families.

Nabil Shaath, a foreign policy adviser to Abbas, told Israel Radio that halting the payments to terrorists would harm prospects for peace negotiations with Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

“It’s insane to request that we stop paying the families of prisoners,” he said. “That would be like asking Israel to stop paying its soldiers.”

He called Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted for gruesome murders, “victims of Israel and the result of occupation.”

Despite dismissing Washington’s demand to stop paying terrorists, Shaath said that the meeting between Abbas and President Donald Trump on Wednesday was a good effort to restart negotiations and expressed his “appreciation” for Trump’s “respectful” approach.

Shaath told local media in January that Palestinians have an “indisputable” right to “armed resistance,” a popular euphemism for terrorism, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board argued in November that payments to Palestinian terrorists “are an official incentive program for murder that in any other context would be recognized as state sponsorship of terror.”

Eli Lake wrote in Bloomberg View in July that offering salaries to Palestinians who kill Israelis “encourages” terror attacks “as a legitimate act of resistance.”

An investigation in the Mail on Sunday in March 2016 found that Amjad Awad, a Palestinian man who in 2011 helped massacre five members of the Fogel family in their West Bank [Judea and Samaria] home, has already received some $23,000 from the PA as compensation. (In 2012, PA television called Awad and his cousin, who also participated in the killings, “heroes.”)

Another terrorist on the PA’s payroll is veteran Hamas bomb-maker Abdallah Barghouti. Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences in an Israeli jail over his role in numerous bombings, including at the Hebrew University cafeteria in 2002, the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, and a Rishon LeZion nightclub bombing in 2002, which killed 66 people. He is believed to have received over $150,000 for his efforts thus far.

The “cash-strapped PA relies on foreign aid for nearly half its budget,” the Mail on Sunday observed. “Yet it gives [$102] million a year to prisoners locked up in Israeli jails, former prisoners and their families.”

Since the amount of money awarded to Palestinian terrorists correlates to the amount of time they’re serving in prison, “the more gruesome the terrorism, the more money will be paid,” The Jerusalem Post reported in 2015.

Israeli government sources told the Post at the time that “while knowledge of these payments is ‘nothing new,’ it clearly shows that the PA provides economic incentives for carrying out terrorist acts. More than that, one source said, the fact that these funds are allocated for that purpose helps bolster the image of terrorists—or as the Palestinians often call them, ‘martyrs’—into heroes.”

“‘It is a problem for the PA. On one hand they claim they want peace and discourage violence, and on the other hand they put terrorists on pedestals, idolize them as heroes, and provide meaningful financial incentives for others to follow their path,’” the source said.

Source: (This article was originally published by The Israel Project, in its publication The Tower on 04 May 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See the original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Janwikifoto/Wikimedia

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Intercede for the nation of Israel and their leaders as they are faced with blatant attempts at intimidation and acts of terror on a daily basis. Ask God to give the world leaders discernment regarding the lies being spread by Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Pray that nations will not be able to ignore the fact that their finances are being used to promote terror.

Scripture

Blessed be the LORD, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.


- Psalm 124:6-8

Israel Officially in Drought Year

by Amir Ben-David

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The Kinneret

Friday, 05 May 2017 | Israel Meteorological Service data indicate that the country has entered a drought year, showing that the annual rainfall stands at only about 71% of the cross-year average.

Due to the worrying situation, the Water Authority is mulling over a plan to pump tens of millions of cubic meters of desalinated water into the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] in order to prevent it from drying up.

A drought is formally announced by a joined committee of the ministries of agriculture and finance, after they have identified certain areas that were harmed by it—for compensation purposes. But by the standards of climate organizations and the Water Authority, a year that had rainfall of less than 80% of the cross-year average is considered a drought year.

Data show that in the Kinneret area, as well as areas from which rainfall flows into the Kinneret, rainfall was measured at only 70% of the average. The low point was measured in the Shfela region, which experienced only 50% of the cross-year rainfall average.

The shortage of water in the lake is causing an increase of salt levels in the water and could lead to environmental degradation and render the water unusable for irrigation or drinking.

Israel is not suffering from water shortages thanks to its desalination facilities, though there is no guarantee that the facilities will be able to keep up with demands. This is the fourth year in a row that the northern region is hit by drought, and the results can be seen in the sad state of the Kinneret and the area’s streams and springs.

The forecast for the coming years is a continuous decline in rainfall in the northern region, so even if the country won’t experience a drought, there will still be a shortage of water flow into the Kinneret.

The Water Authority has been trying unsuccessfully in recent years to get approval for a new desalination facility in the north, which will serve as an additional emergency water source for the Kinneret, but local residents have been pushing back against the plan.

With the looming danger of the Kinneret’s declining water levels that could lead to degradation in the quality of its water, the Water Authority is also examining a plan to pump up to 50 million cubic meters of desalinated water into the lake next winter, should the desalination facilities have a surplus of unused water.

There are a few potential problems with this plan. The plan is to get the water into the lake via the Tzalmon Stream, but the water might percolate into the stream bed without reaching the lake.

Another possible problem is that the desalinated water lacks basic minerals, and research is still needed to conclude what sort of effect it could have on the lake and the local fauna and flora.

The low water levels have already led the Water Authority to almost completely halt all drawing of water from the lake.

(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 04 May 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Theo Polstra/BFP

Prayer Focus
Declare God's promise to bless the Land of Israel with rain as only 70% of the yearly average has been received in the Galilee (Kinneret). Pray for miracles and implore God to save the Sea of Galilee! Ask wisdom for the Water Authority in their decisions; cry out for the farmers in the North; and pray that each of us will save water.

Scripture

The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.


- Deuteronomy 28:12

Jerusalem Remembrance Hall Unveiled Ahead of Memorial Day

by Liran Levy and Yoav Zitun

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Illustration of the National Memorial Hall in the shape of a torch at the entrance of the National Military and Police cemetery

 Monday, 01 May 2017 | The official memorial hall on Mount Herzl was unveiled Thursday morning, [and was] inaugurated on Sunday—the eve of Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers.

The new memorial hall is a stone-made mountain, towering to a height of 18 meters (59 feet), and comprises more than 23,000 bricks, each bearing the name of the fallen and the date of their death.

Each brick is illuminated with a candle that automatically lights up on the anniversary of the person’s death. Construction work on the hall lasted two years and cost approximately NIS 99 million (US $27.3 million).

Over the next two months, visits to the hall will be restricted to bereaved families only, who will be invited to attend organized visits by Yad Labanim—an organization commemorating IDF (Israel Defense Forces) fallen soldiers. Thereafter it will be made accessible to the general public.

The hall contains the names of all security personnel who died in the line of duty, from the first soldier Aharon Hershler, who was attacked by Arabs in Jerusalem in 1873, to the most recently-fallen soldiers. The names of the soldiers are engraved on the bricks in the same font and size, irrespective of rank, in chronological order, in order to preserve the value of equality in perpetuating the fallen soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet (Israeli internal security organization), the police and the security forces.

At the entrance to the hall there will be a “ner tamid” (a lamp that burns perpetually) and a flag pole with the Israeli flag. The official memorial ceremonies will be held in the heart of the hall, and guests of the state will be invited to lay a wreath. Every morning a military cantor will hold a memorial service for soldiers who died in the line of duty on that day.

In the center of the hall lies a huge bell made up of thousands of bricks produced by the manager of the Merkava tank and the Yarkam tank programs designed to reflect the spirit of the verse: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.

In addition, there will be artistic exhibits and interactive tools. A computerized system will enable the visitors to access information, pictures, and summarized biographies of the dead via touch screens.

Towards the end of the journey through the hall, visitors will be invited to share feelings and experiences, and write a few words in their memory. They will also be invited to light a virtual candle that will be incorporated into a special three-dimensional display.

Visits to the hall will be accompanied by music composed specifically for the site, and the entrance to the site will be adorned by a creation of the successful Israeli artist Michal Rovner, titled In Their Footsteps.

“The State of Israel has many national symbols of commemoration, such as the siren and the lowering of the flag to half mast, but there has yet to be a site that focuses on the personal dimension of the fallen,” Aryeh Moalem, deputy director of the families and commemoration department at the Defense Ministry, told Ynet.

“Bereaved families wished to eternally commemorate their sons’ memory and story… In addition, when senior Israeli officials visit countries abroad, they usually commence their visits by placing a flag on the tombstone of the anonymous soldier in that country. In the State of Israel, it was decided that no such tombstone will exist, and thus, the hall may be utilized for (that purpose), to enable foreign VIPs, who arrive on official visits, to pay respects to Israel’s fallen soldiers,” he said.

The director of the hall, Yair Ben-Shalom, added: “The hall provides an experience of connecting the person to himself, a tour of the history of a fallen battalion, the story of a town and its losses, the name of a fallen soldier he may have been familiar with and wanted to know more about. This is a hall of values and revival.”

(Translated and edited by N. Elias)

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 28 April 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Kimmel Eshkolot Architects/YouTube

Prayer Focus
Offer thanksgiving to the Lord for all those who paid with their lives for the land of Israel. Pray that their families will take comfort from the bravery of their beloved soldiers who ensured the safety of the Israeli nation. Ask God that these burning lights will speak about value and revival to the hearts of all visitors.

Scripture

This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.


- Psalm 119:50

‘Made In Israel’ Labels on Fruits and Vegetables

by Meirav Crystal

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Food produced in Israel being prepared for distribution at BFP’s Jerusalem Assistance Center

Friday, 05 May 2017 | The Ministry of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Blue and White Division of the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Farmers’ Union of Israel and the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, announced last week that they are working to label the local agricultural produce with a blue and white ‘made in Israel’ label.

The label will be similar to marking the other products, using a logo accompanied by the caption Made in Israel. The label shall be affixed to the package or placed on the fruit or vegetable with a sticker. The markup will enable consumers to easily identify local produce.

The label is voluntary, and every farmer in Israel growing produce is allowed to join the campaign. In packaged produce, the label will appear on the package. The produce involved includes cherry tomatoes, packaged cucumbers, small peppers, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots and herbs.

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said, “The new label will enable local Israeli farmers to enjoy local pride and strengthen their ties with the consumer, and I am sure that the public will prefer to buy local blue and white produce and support the Israeli farmers.”

Minister of Economy Eli Cohen said: “The decision to start marking agricultural products in Israel with a Made in Israel label, in addition to the marking of industrial products, which has been underway for a number of years, enables us to significantly expand the basket of products marked as blue and white products. It also serves to encourage local production and the preference of Israeli products for the advancement of industry and agriculture and the strengthening of Israeli economy.”

Source: (Excerpt of article originally published by Ynetnews on 01 May 2017. Time related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: PieterMarais/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank God for the initiative of labeling Israeli agricultural produce to encourage and expand local production that strengthens Israel’s economy. Pray that it will have a snowball effect on tourism and combat BDS globally.

Scripture

Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.


- Ezekiel 34:27

Action
Do you know where to buy products from Israel? Support Israel and contribute to their economy while boldly acting against BDS movements.

4.5 Million Expected to Pack Ben Gurion Airport this Summer

by Danny Sadeh

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The arrivals hall at Ben Gurion airport

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 | Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport is preparing for a particularly busy travel period this July and August, with approximately 4.5 million passengers, both Israelis and tourists, expected to pass through its gates as they embark on, and return from, their summer holidays.

According to data compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), an average of 1,360 flights are expected per week during the summer months, marking an increase of 13% when compared with the same period last year. Around 63% of all the expected flights will be traveling to Europe.

The forecasts and data collated at the beginning of the year show that close to 2 million Israelis will take off between July and August.

The CAA’s figures also illustrate that as a result of Israel’s “open skies” policy, which was signed with the European Union in 2013, Israel is on track to record, by this summer, a 43% increase in the number of flights taking off from, and landing on, the airport’s tarmac when compared to the summer of 2013.

During this timeframe, departures to Europe grew by 51% while the remaining flights to other destinations grew by 32%.

Istanbul, the data shows, will be the most popular destination for those setting out from Tel Aviv this summer, with 91 weekly flights to be made by Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of flights departing for Istanbul will be stopover journeys as passengers press on to European, Far East or American destinations.

The second most popular route will be between Tel Aviv and London, with 65 weekly flights in the summer spanning across six airlines, including El Al, British Airways, EasyJet, Monarch, Wizz Air and Arkia.

Flights to and from Paris are expected to take third place, with 61 weekly flights operated by five companies, including El Al, Air France, EasyJet, Transavia and Arkia.

Closely following as the fourth and fifth most popular flight routes will be Tel Aviv-Moscow, with 57 flights, and Larnaca, in which 55 flights will land from seven airlines which will include Arkia, Aegean, Tus Airways, Israir, El Al, Cobalt and Airblue.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) welcomed the bustling airport activity, claiming that the increasing number of passengers packing its perimeter stemmed from Israel’s signing of the open skies agreement.

Katz cited a 50% surge in the number of flights between Israel and other destinations since the signing of the open skies agreement.

“Updating the aviation agreements while increasing the frequency cap and the number of airlines that are permitted to operate regular flights to Israel is a national strategic goal for the country,” Katz said.

“The additional flights and competition has brought about a consumer revolution while the Israeli public is the main beneficiary due to the variety of destinations there are and mainly because of the drop in flight prices.”

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 01 May 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: GeorgeDement/wikipedia

Photo License: Wikipedia

Prayer Focus
Give thanks to the Lord for the signing of the open skies agreement that has increased flights to Israel. Pray that the world will continue to awaken to the richness and beauty of the land. Pray for the staff working at Ben Gurion Airport as a busy summer season awaits them.

Scripture

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey;


- Deuteronomy 8:7-8

Israel’s Population on Independence Day at 8.6 Million

by Gilad Carmeli

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New immigrants from Brazil who arrived aboard an aliyah flight in November 2016

Wednesday, 03 May 2017 | On the eve of Israel’s 69th Independence Day, the population of Israel stands at 8,680,000 people.

According to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the population increased by about 159,000 during the past year, an increase of 1.9%.

Since the last Independence Day, 174,000 babies were born in Israel, 44,000 people passed away, and about 30,000 people immigrated.

On the eve of the establishment of the State of Israel, the population of Israel stood at 806,000. According to predictions, by 2048—when the state celebrates 100 years of independence—the population of Israel is expected to reach 15.2 million.

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) also conducted a global demographic comparison between the number of Jews in 1948 and today.

The data indicate that in 1948, the Jewish population in the world was 11.5 million, and only 6% lived in Israel. Today, 14.411 million Jews live around the world, of which 43% live in Israel.

The Jewish population today stands at approximately 6,484,000 residents (74.7% of the total population). The Arab population is approximately 1,808,000 (20.8%) and the population of non-Arab Christians, people of other religions and people with no religious affiliation totaled around 388,000 (4.5%).

According to CBS data, 75% of the Jewish population is comprised of native Israelis; 44% define themselves as secular; 24% are traditional or not very religious; 12% are observant; 11% are religious, and 9% are ultra-Orthodox.

Among non-Jews, the picture is different: the majority (52%) is religious; 21% define themselves as secular; 23% are not so religious, and 4% are extremely religious.

The largest city is still Jerusalem, home to about 865,700 residents. The smallest town is Neve Zohar in the Tamar Regional Council, which has 71 residents.

In 1948, there was only one city in Israel with more than 100,000 residents—Tel Aviv. Today, 14 cities number more than 100,000 residents, of which eight have more than 200,000 residents: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Haifa, Rishon LeZion, Petah Tikva, Ashdod, Netanya and Beersheva.

In 1948, there were only two institutions of higher education in Israel (the Hebrew University and the Technion), whereas today, there are 63, including nine universities and 33 colleges.

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on 01 May 2017. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ashernet

Prayer Focus
Praise the God of Israel for the faithfulness of His promises. Thank Him for the miracle of Israel and pray that the remaining 47% of Jews scattered around the globe will have the desire to make the Jewish State of Israel their home.

Scripture

Therefore say, thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.


- Ezekiel 11:17

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