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Friday, November 13, 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.

Knesset Approves Peace Agreement with Bahrain

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The Knesset hall in Jerusalem

Thursday, 12 November 2020 | What happened: The Knesset [Parliament] yesterday approved the agreement to “establish relations of diplomacy, peace and friendship between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

  • The agreement was approved by 62 votes to 14, with only the Joint List [coalition of Arab parties] voting against.
  • During the five-hour session, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Peace deals with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and normalization with Sudan have not fallen on us from the sky. It has come from a change in policy. In the last decade, Israeli governments have systematically nurtured our power when it comes to security, economy, cyber, foreign relations and other spheres.”
  • Relating to the Joint List voting against the Israel–UAE peace agreement, Netanyahu said: “Today you have the opportunity to make amends. And if not today, we will give you many more chances later,” hinting that more countries will soon normalize relations with Israel.
  • Defense Minister Benny Gantz told the Knesset: “The Abraham Accords can expand to other countries in the region, but, equally important, their spirit should extend to our closest neighbors, the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Palestinian leadership has not internalized the fact that the time has come to put the excuses aside, to get back to the negotiating table, to security and civil coordination, and to work together to find solutions…if not for yourselves, do it for your children.”
  • Yesterday in Washington, the Trump administration formally notified Congress of a [US $23 billion] arms deal with the UAE. The deal includes 50 F-35s, 18 advanced armed drone systems, and a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement: “This is in recognition of our deepening relationship and the UAE’s need for advanced defense capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran.”
  • Pompeo added: “This proposed sale will make the UAE even more capable and interoperable with US partners in a manner that is fully consistent with America’s longstanding commitment to ensuring Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge.” (QME)

Context: In an interview to Channel 12 News, the UAE Ambassador in Washington Yousef al-Otaiba confirmed the official Israeli narrative that talks with the US on sales of the F-35s only began after they signed the normalization agreement with Israel in September.

  • The deal will make the UAE the first Arab country to receive the world’s most advanced fighter jet. Until now, Israel is the only country in the region to possess the F-35. There is concern within the Israeli defense establishment that more Arab countries will acquire them too. Reports suggest that Qatar has also officially requested to buy the fighter jet.
  • Two weeks ago, Israel had reached understandings with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper over maintaining Israel’s QME. The US agreed to an additional squadron of F-35s plus a range of other advanced weapons.

Looking ahead:  Following the Knesset’s approval, [the] Israeli–Bahraini agreement will now be ratified by the cabinet, where it is expected to receive unanimous support.

  • According to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, will soon visit Israel.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel in the coming days, and continue from here to the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
  • Next week an Israeli delegation will visit Sudan to discuss the details of the normalization agreement between the two countries. It is expected to be a small delegation led by the Mossad [Israeli internal security organization] official who oversaw the process so far.
  • In the next few weeks there is also expected to be a second larger delegation that will focus on agricultural development and will stay in Sudan for several days.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by BICOM on November 11, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Kathy DeGagné/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that the peace agreement with Bahrain has been approved. Pray that the relationship will grow, benefiting both nations and the entire region. Also pray that the Palestinian leadership will heed the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gantz, and make the decision to work together with Israel to find solutions that will secure a peaceful future for themselves and their children.

Scripture

And the LORD sits as King forever. The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.


- Psalm 29:10b–11

US Confirms Sale of F-35s to UAE

by Ilse Strauss

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An F-35 fighter jet (illustrative)

Wednesday, 11 November 2020 | The US State Department yesterday approved the sale of a massive package of advanced weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a bid to help Abu Dhabi beef up its armed forces in the face of potential Iranian aggression.

The package, which will reportedly set the Gulf nation back an estimated US $23,37 billion, includes 18 advanced armed Reaper drone systems, air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions as well as the ultimate prize of 50 stealth F-35 fighter jets.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally notified Congress of the sale, pointing out that it forms part of the Trump administration’s efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and that the decision was contingent on the UAE’s decision to normalize ties with former foe Israel.

“This is in recognition of our deepening relationship and the UAE’s need for advanced defense capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement.     

“The UAE’s historic agreement to normalize relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to positively transform the region’s strategic landscape,” Pompeo continued. “Our adversaries, especially those in Iran, know this and will stop at nothing to disrupt this shared success.”

The prospect of the UAE obtaining advanced arms initially raised concerns in Israeli defense circles that it may affect Jerusalem’s military superiority in the region. In the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the US pledged to obtain the Jewish state’s nod of approval before selling advanced weapons systems to any Middle Eastern country, thus preserving Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the region.

The US has made good on its promise, maintaining the balance of power by selecting what it sells to Arab nations and ensuring that Israel has the top pick. The F-35 stealth fighter is a case in point.

Israel was the second country after the US to add the world’s most advanced warplanes to its fleet and is the only air force in the Middle East boasting the F-35. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish state currently boasts some 24 of the jets and is set to add an addition 50 of the fighter planes to their fleet. 

The US laid Israel’s concerns over losing its military edge to rest during a series of meetings between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his US counterpart Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Jerusalem and Washington. The discourse culminated late last month with the two defense ministers signing a declaration of the US commitment to maintain the Jewish state’s QME in the Middle East to ensure stability in the often volatile region.

According to Gantz, the agreement gives Israel access to the “tools it needs to contend with aggressive and destabilizing forces, making it an even more effective ally to the US and creating the conditions for peace to prosper.”

Pompeo echoed the pledge in his statement yesterday, describing the UAE deal as “consistent with America’s longstanding commitment to ensuring Israel’s QME; exemplifies the United States’ steadfast position as the security partner of choice; and demonstrates our commitment to the success of the Abraham Accords.”

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

Photo Credit: 272 447/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the US commitment to Israel’s QME. Pray that Israel will indeed maintain its position as “an even more effective ally to the US, creating the conditions for peace to prosper.”

Scripture

“I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.”


- Isaiah 41:10b–11

Potential Coronavirus Pfizer Vaccine Heading to Israel?

by Kate Norman

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Israel is negotiating with Pfizer to obtain its potential coronavirus vaccine. (illustrative)

Tuesday, 10 November 2020 | After American pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced Monday that its vaccine candidate is 90% effective, many countries—including Israel—are clamoring to get on the list to receive the vaccine once it is fully developed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost no time in announcing the importance of Pfizer’s progress and his dedication to bringing the vaccine to Israel once it is completed.

“My goal at the moment is to do one thing: bring vaccines to you, citizens of Israel, and we will do so,” Netanyahu vowed.

“This means that the end is in view,” the prime minister continued. “I said a few days ago that I see light at the end of the tunnel. I think that train is already exiting the tunnel.”

The vaccine candidate, developed by Pfizer and German company BioNTech SE, is in the ending stages of human trials. The testing has reportedly revealed no serious safety concerns.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” Pfizer’s chairman said in a statement. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”

The competition to receive the vaccine will likely be high, Prime Minister Netanyahu noted. Israeli Finance Minister Israel Katz announced that he was in talks with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin over Israeli access to the drug.

The Jewish state is covering all its bases, as Israeli leaders have already reached agreements with two other American pharmaceutical companies as well as Russia for its vaccine candidate.

The Israeli quest to acquire vaccines from other countries comes in conjunction with development of its own vaccine. The frontrunner, Brilife, developed by the Israeli Institute for Biological Research, is in the beginning stages of human trials, which are expected to be completed this summer.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 10, 2020)

Photo Credit: National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that the various vaccines being developed will in fact be effective, providing protection from COVID-19. Pray that Israel and the nations of the world will have access to enough of the vaccine for their populations, allowing them to open their borders, build their economies, educate their children and restore normalcy to a battered and bleeding world.

Scripture

Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.


- Psalm 103:1–4

“Groundbreaking:” Arab Partners Label Anti-Zionism as Anti-Semitism

by Joshua Spurlock

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Bahrain’s King Hamad signing the Memorandum of Understanding on October 18

Monday, 9 November 2020 | Arab nations once were committed to driving Israel into the sea, but in a “groundbreaking” shift, an Arab organization backed by the king of Bahrain has joined the coalition labeling anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism. The step represents progress in battling anti-Semitism, as anti-Zionism—which attacks the right of Jews to a homeland—has long been wielded as a covert form of Jew hatred.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the United States and Bahrain’s King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence “is groundbreaking in that it is the first time in history we are seeing Arab partners formally join the United States in combatting anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel,” said Elan Carr, of the Office of the US Department of State Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism (SEAS), in a press release.

The MOU, signed on October 22, declares that the King Hamad Centre and SEAS “intend to work together to share and promote best practices for combatting all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.”

The MOU also adopts the Working Definition of anti-Semitism as adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), including the examples of anti-Semitism. Among those examples listed on the IHRA website is “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” Holocaust denial is also included in the list of examples.

In the October press release, US Special Envoy Carr said of the MOU signed with the King Hamad Centre, “This partnership will build a future of tolerance, harmony, and peace for generations to come.”

That progress looks to already be happening. In a November 6 press briefing by Carr, the US envoy said that the Global Imam Council—the world’s largest non-governmental organization of Muslim religious leaders—has also adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. Carr, whose comments were published by the State Department, said the move followed the MOU signed with the King Hamad Centre and means the Global Imam Council “have pledged also to combat anti-Semitism globally.”

Carr said that Albania has also become the first Muslim-majority nation whose parliament has formally adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

“We are seeing this on the march internationally, and this is a very, very good development for our mutual cause of fighting anti-Semitism, protecting the Jewish people, and of course supporting the State of Israel,” said Carr in the November briefing.

The steps forward in battling anti-Semitism come as three Arab nations have signed the Abraham Accords peace agreement with Israel. One of those three nations is Bahrain, the home of the King Hamad Centre. The United Arab Emirates and Sudan have also joined the peace accords.

The Trump Administration mediated the three peace accords and has made combatting anti-Semitism a priority. With Joe Biden the projected winner of the US presidential election, the reporters last week asked Carr about the long-term prospects of the efforts to battle anti-Semitism.

“These are not partisan measures,” said Carr. “…I see these as fundamental issues that are American issues.  And of course, the fight against anti-Semitism is a fight for American values.

“And so it is critically important that we not only stay the course on these efforts but that we double down and continue to push this, because in rooting this scourge out from our world, we truly are building a better world for our children and grandchildren that we all aspire for them to have.”

Source: (This article was originally published by the Mideast Update on November 6, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today.)

Photo Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this incredible and unimaginable development! Thank Him for this awakening throughout the Arab world, and pray that their commitment to identifying and fighting anti-Semitism, as well as recognizing Israel’s right to self-determination as a Jewish state, will prove to be authentic and lasting.

Scripture

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth; that Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me.


- Psalm 108:5–6

IDF Foils Terror Attack near Hebron

by Ilse Strauss

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IDF soldiers foiled the terror attack (illustrative)

Monday, 9 November 2020 | Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers managed to foil an attempted Palestinian terror attack near Hebron in Samaria yesterday morning, the army Spokesperson’s Unit said. The troops were patrolling the area at the time of the attack.

According to the IDF, the knife-wielding assailant approached the scene in a car. He then stopped, exited the vehicle and began advancing toward the soldiers—knife drawn.

“The soldiers called for the assailant to halt…” the IDF said. “After he did not adhere to their calls, they fired at him in order to neutralize him.”

The forces at the scene sustained no injuries, while the terrorist was injured and evacuated to hospital for treatment. His condition remains unknown.

Yesterday’s incident is the second attempted Palestinian terror attack in a week. Last Wednesday, a member of the Palestinian Authority’s security services opened fire on soldiers in Judea and Samaria. None of the shots found their mark. Israeli forces on the scene shot and killed the terrorists.

The attacks came amid a volatile few weeks in Judea and Samaria with an uptick in rock-throwing and firebombing incidents in the already explosive region.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 9, 2020)

Photo Credit: Pvt. Eden Briand, IDF Spokesperson's Unit/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for an end to the violence. Pray that the rock-throwing, firebombing and other means of terror will cease. Beseech the Lord for an attitude change among the Palestinian leadership to bring a message of peace and cooperation to a population inculcated with hatred for generations.

Scripture

“For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” says the LORD. “I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grip of the terrible.”


- Jeremiah 15:20b–21

Iranian Stockpile of Enriched Uranium 12 Times over the Nuke Deal Limit

by Kate Norman

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Iran continues to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (illustrative).

Thursday, 12 November 2020 | Iran continues to overstep the restrictions set out for the regime under the 2015 Iran deal, a United Nations atomic watchdog announced on Wednesday, increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium to 12 times the amount allowed under the nuclear accord.

The Islamic regime as of November 2 possessed 2,442.9 kilograms (5,285.7 lbs) of enriched uranium, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed in a confidential report to the member nations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The report was shown to the AP, who published the details.

The JCPOA, which was signed in 2015 in order to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, limits the regime to stockpiling 202.8 kilograms (447 lbs) of enriched uranium—a limitation that Iran has left behind in the dust, according to the IAEA.

The regime has also continued enriching its uranium, with a reported purity of 4.5%. The nuclear accord set the limit at 3.67% purity. While Tehran insists the enriched uranium is for civilian purposes, experts have suggested over the past few months that the regime’s progress in enriching the uranium puts them much closer toward achieving weapons-grade purity.

In addition, the IAEA reported that it had questioned Iran over the presence of nuclear material “at a location in Iran not declared to the agency” and received an answer that was “not technically credible.” The report, according to the AP, said “a full and prompt explanation from Iran…is needed.”

Iran, though it says otherwise, has also denied the IAEA access to nuclear sites—again in violation of the JCPOA.

The regime has been open about one thing: it will continue operating outside the 2015 restrictions in response to the US pulling out of the accord in 2018 and reimposing “maximum pressure” sanctions against Iran in order to cripple its nuclear development program.

In a move that US and Israeli leaders have called “extortion,” Iran has said that it will continue to further violate the JCPOA restrictions until the remaining countries party to the agreement grant the regime financial breaks that will offset the US sanctions.

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

Photo Credit: pxfuel.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the nations of the world will not capitulate to Iran’s extortion but will take a strong stand against their flagrant violations of the JCPOA. Pray that sanctions will remain in place, and beseech the Lord that Iranian plans to wreak nuclear havoc on the world will never be allowed to come to fruition.

Scripture

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.


- Proverbs 19:21

Hamas Recruits Minors to Murder, Kidnap Israelis

by Ilse Strauss

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The prospective terrorists were meant to receive weapons from Hamas. (illustrative)

Tuesday, 10 November 2020 | Hamas has never been coy about its intentions toward Israel. The founding charter of the Iran-backed terror group that rules the 1.9 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip does, after all, clearly stipulate the destruction of Israel through jihad (holy war) as its reason for existence. And according to the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency), Hamas now enlists Palestinian minors in Judea and Samaria as jihadists in its bloody war.

The Shin Bet yesterday announced the arrest of two Palestinian youths, including a 16-year-old, whom the terror group recruited to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and soldiers.

The two would-be terrorists, both from a village near Hebron, were reportedly hooked by a Gaza-based member of the Hamas military wing cyber unit during a dedicated online recruitment effort spanning a number of social platforms across several months.

“During the minors’ interrogation…it emerged that they were meant to receive weapons, ammunition, uniforms and money in order to advance terrorist activities…” the Shin Bet said.

The two future terrorists also shared their prospective terror itinerary with their interrogators, including gathering intelligence on Israel Defense Forces (IDF) activities in the area, kidnapping an Israeli citizen from a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria and the grand finale of a number of shooting attacks on Israeli targets.

According to the Shin Bet, “The investigation shows the level of unrestrained efforts by Hamas to advance terror attacks and to build terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank while taking advantage of minors and harming their families.”

The arrests were reportedly made last month, the security service said, but details of the case were barred from publication pending the two minors’ indictment last week.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 10, 2020)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord that these young Palestinians were caught before having the opportunity to carry out terror attacks against Israel. Pray that the Lord will turn their lives around, making them examples to other youth of a life of peace and righteousness. Pray that any financial support coming from the nations will be withheld from Hamas until this blatant abuse of children comes to a permanent end.

Scripture

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.


- Psalm 127:3

Israel’s Wintry Weather Continues with More Heavy Rain on the Way

by Danny Rup

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A Jerusalem resident walking in the rain on Thursday

Friday, 6 November 2020 | The wintry weather in Israel continued Thursday with more heavy rain expected across most parts of the country, at times accompanied by lightning and thunderstorms.

The current storm system on Wednesday caused widespread flooding in southern and central Israel, with the coastal city of Ashdod taking the biggest hit. The city saw major flooding in several neighborhoods, with cars submerged in water. Local fire department officials said they were called to assist residents trapped inside their vehicles.

More than 100 millimeters [4 in] of rain fell across the country in just 24 hours, despite the month of October being unusually dry and hot.

Meteorologists said the rain will intensify throughout the day and subside by the afternoon hours.

In the northern city of Haifa, the temperatures will dip from 21°C [69.8°F] during the day Sunday to 18°C [64.4°F] at night. In Tel Aviv, the weather will be similar, with a range of 23°C [73.4°F] during the day and 21°C [69.8°F] at night. In Jerusalem, the weather will be cooler, reaching 17°C [62.6°F] during the day and falling to 13°C [55.4°F] overnight.

In the southern city of Beersheva, temperatures will range from 21°C [69.8°F] throughout the day to 17°C [62.6°F] at night. In Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat, the weather will remain warm with 28°C [82.4°F] during the day and 23°C [73.4°F] at night.

On Friday, local rain is possible in some parts of the country, while Saturday will see an increase in temperatures and the weather is expected to be mostly sunny.

In the meantime, the Water Authority said the Sea of Galilee’s water level had risen by two centimeters [0.78 in] over the past 24 hours after more than 25 mm [0.98 in] of rain poured directly into the lake. The water level has dropped by 1.085 meters [3.56 ft] since last winter and now stands at 209.975 meters [689 ft] below sea level.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on November 5, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Daniel Kirchhevel/bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the blessing of rain. Cry out to Him that the winter rains will continue but without flooding or endangering the lives and safety of the people of Israel. Pray that all Israel will recognize the Lord as the source of this blessing and be moved to thank Him from hearts filled with gratitude.

Scripture

For so You have prepared it. You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.


- Psalm 65:9b–11

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