Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, October 30, 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.

Peace with Sudan: Three Historic Nos Turn to Three Yeses

by Ilse Strauss

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Netanyahu hailed peace with Sudan as an “incredible transformation.”

Monday, 26 October 2020 | In the fateful summer of 1967, the Jewish state’s fighting force managed to beat back a horde of invading Arab armies for the second time in less than 20 years. Once the din of the Six Day War died down, Israel offered to give up the land gained over the six days of fighting—including Judea and Samaria—in exchange for peace with its Arab neighbors.

The said Arab neighbors convened the 4th Arab League Summit in the Sudanese capital to deliberate Israel’s outstretched hand of peace. Their answer came in the form of the Khartoum Resolution, infamous for the “Three No’s”: no to peace, no to recognizing Israel and no to negotiations.

Half a century later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a pre-recorded video statement on Friday evening, the three historic no’s have turned into three historic yes’s. “Today Khartoum has said, ‘Yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to normalization with Israel.’”

The prime minister’s announcement of the US-brokered normalization of diplomatic ties between Israel and Sudan was released while Netanyahu was on a conference call with US President Donald Trump, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sudan’s transitional leader, Lt.–Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

President Trump invited the White House press corps into the Oval Office, put the three leaders on speaker phone and then broke the news of Sudan becoming the third Arab nation in three months—after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—to put an end to more than seven decades of an anti-Israel narrative, rejectionism and all-out war to take Jerusalem’s outstretched hand of peace.

In his video statement, Netanyahu—seated against a backdrop of the flags of Israel, the US and Sudan—hailed Khartoum “joining the circle of peace” as an “incredible transformation.”

“This is a new era,” the premier continued. “An era of true peace. A peace that is expanding with other Arab countries—with three of them joining in recent weeks.”

According to Netanyahu, delegations from the two newly friendly nations will meet “in the coming days” to “discuss cooperation in many areas, including agriculture, trade and other areas important to our citizens.”

The prime minister also highlighted one of the immediate benefits of the deal. “The skies of Sudan are open to Israel today. This allows for direct and shorter flights between Israel and Africa and South America.”

“What excitement!” a clearly elated Netanyahu concluded. “To many more [peace deals].

The terms of the peace deal between Israel and Sudan may be a bit more complex than the accords with the UAE and Bahrain.

A transitional government currently leads Sudan after long-time president Omar al-Bashir—who stands accused of organizing war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court—was deposed in a coup d’état last year.

As head of the transitional government, Hamdok aims to transform the country toward a more open and peaceful democracy. However, all decisions require ratification by a yet unformed transitional parliament. The bottom line? The normalization process may happen at a much slower pace.

The normalization does, however, come at a pivotal point for Sudan’s transitional leadership. The dire economic conditions crippling the country have sparked a large number of protests sweeping Khartoum. With the terms of the deal stipulating debt relief, aid and investment from Israel, specifically in the fields of agriculture and technology, Jerusalem may very well help bring the transitional government back from the brink.

In fact, Netanyahu announced yesterday that Jerusalem would dispatch a portion of the Jewish state’s abundance to Khartoum. “We are looking forward to a warm peace and are sending [US] $5 million worth of wheat immediately to our new friends in Sudan,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a tweet.

In the warm glow of the peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain, both President Trump and Netanyahu vowed that more peace partners would soon follow in the Gulf states’ footsteps. They were right. Which introduces the question: who is next in line for peace?

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 26, 2020)

Photo Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for yet another Arab/Muslim nation making the decision to establish relations with Israel. Pray that this relationship will truly be a blessing to the people of both nations, helping to solidify peace in the entire region.

Scripture

The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.


- Psalm 29:11

Israel, Lebanon to Meet Twice this Week for Border Discussions

by Kate Norman

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An IDF patrol boat on the Mediterranean Sea near the Israel–Lebanon maritime border (illustrative)

Wednesday, 28 October 2020 | An Israeli delegation traveled to Lebanon today to continue talks to settle their long-held maritime border dispute, Israel’s Energy Ministry reported.

The delegation headed just north of the border to a United Nations base in Naqoura, Lebanon, to continue US-mediated talks that began earlier this month to demarcate the official border between the two nations in the Mediterranean. This is the first time the two countries have reopened talks on the subject in 30 years.

The disputed waters are filled with rich natural resources—particularly natural gas.

The delegations will discuss today and tomorrow, reaching an agreement on the maritime border “in a way that will enable the development of natural resources in the region,” the Energy Ministry said in a statement.

The neighboring countries reopened talks on the subject on October 14—just a month after Israel signed the Abraham Accords for peace with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in Washington DC.

The resumption of talks is another reflection of the shifting dynamics in the Middle East as more Arab and Muslim countries are joining hands with the Jewish state in peace.

Nonetheless, Israel’s military continues preparing to ensure that its borders remain safe and sound from enemy attacks. On Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces will conclude its largest exercise of the year, dubbed “Lethal Arrow,” which simulates war with Hezbollah.

The Lebanese-based terror group has its tentacles wrapped tightly around Lebanon, reaching even into the government—and those tentacles stretch all the way back to their base in Tehran.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset (Parliament) that while Hezbollah “effectively controls Lebanon, there can be no real peace with this country.”

He added a hopeful note about the resumed maritime discussions, saying they hold “enormous potential and economic significance, both for them and for us.”

While touring Israel’s north to inspect the Lethal Arrow exercise, Defense Minister Benny Gantz also acknowledged Hezbollah’s hindrance to the possibility of peace between Israel and Lebanon.

“The citizens of Lebanon must remember that Hezbollah, not Israel, is their problem, because if Hezbollah attacks the state of Israel, Lebanon will pay the price for any aggression,” the defense minister warned. “We are here to be ready for the moment that I hope will not come.”

Israel last fought a war with Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon War.

Lebanon is engulfed in one of the worst financial crises in the nation’s history, following the economic fallout amid the pandemic as well as the large explosion in Beirut’s port in August, which killed over 200 people, injured thousands and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless. Many blame Hezbollah for the explosion, and the disaster opened the eyes of many of the Lebanese people to the fact that Israel is not their true enemy—Hezbollah is.

In fact, coming to an agreement with Israel on their shared border in the Mediterranean and even cooperating on their handling of the natural resources in the region could give Lebanon the leg up it needs to pull itself out of the financial quagmire.

Defense Minister Gantz said during his northern visit: “I am hearing positive voices coming out of Lebanon, who are even talking about peace with Israel, who are working with us on things like determining maritime borders.”

Gantz did not specify who those voices belong to, but his statement came a day after the Lebanese president’s daughter said she would not object to peace with Israel.

“I defend the interests of my country, Lebanon, first,” Claudine Aoun Roukoz told Al-Jadeed. “Are we required to remain in a state of war? I do not have an ideological dispute with anyone, but my dispute is political.”

The president’s daughter said the main issues standing between Israel and Lebanon are the maritime border dispute, “the issue of Palestinian refugees, and another topic which is more important which is the issue of natural resources: water, oil and natural gas, which Lebanon is depending on to advance its economy.”

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 28, 2020)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that Lebanon will somehow be freed of the Tehran-backed Hezbollah “tentacles” that currently surround and control the nation. Beseech the Lord for a real peace between Israel and Lebanon that will make border disputes and military incursions a thing of the past. Ask the Lord to bless the maritime border discussions as the first step in a process with much broader ramifications for both nations.

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

Israel’s Coronavirus Vaccine to be Available Next Summer

by Adir Yanko, Alexandra Lukash

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The Israel Institute for Biological Research expects their vaccine to be available next summer (illustrative).

Tuesday, 27 October 2020 | [An] Israeli-made vaccine against coronavirus will be available only by next summer, said the head of the Israel Institute for Biological Research [IIBR] on Monday.

Early in the pandemic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tasked the IIBR with developing a vaccine against the virus, and on Sunday the research center said [it] will begin its first clinical trials of a novel coronavirus vaccine in November.

In an interview with Ynet, Professor Samuel Shapira said July 2021 is a “reasonable” date for when the vaccine will be ready for mass use.

During the first phase of clinical trials, only two people will be given the vaccine to determine if there are any adverse reactions, and soon after, 80 healthy volunteers, aged 15–55, will be part of the trials, which will be conducted at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv and the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

“We are very excited,” Prof. Shapira said. “We began our journey about nine months ago and have made complex scientific progress. We are now nearing the homestretch after testing our vaccine on four types of animals, examining safety and efficacy. We are now ready to begin testing on humans,” he said.

Shapira said the Israeli approach is unique and advanced but also very sound. “We use an animal virus that is benign in humans and engineer coronavirus spikes on top of it. That is our basis for the vaccine,” he said. “A human immune system recognizes the engineered virus as COVID and develops antibodies and a cell’s response to it.

“When we begin the trials, we will be looking at the safety aspect but will also [be] examining the production of antibodies in our subjects. This will indicate the beginning of an immune reaction. We will be using relatively young volunteers who are in good health,” professor said.

Shapira said the IIBR took no shortcuts on the way to developing their vaccine, though other companies elsewhere in the world may have had an easier regulatory process.

“We had to adhere to the very strict regulations of the Israeli and German governments and ultimately, our purpose is to provide a safe and effective vaccine to the Israeli public and not to be first to the finish line,” he said.

He insists the Israeli vaccine is superior to others being developed. “If I had a choice of five different types of vaccines to choose from, I would pick the Israeli one,” he said, adding he would have volunteered for the trial himself if he were younger and had no direct connection to its development or execution.

Shapira said the IIBR already has 25,000 vials prepared and a million more doses ready to be bottled. “I cannot promise every last Israeli would be able to get vaccinated by next summer, but we are producing rapidly.”

The second phase of the trials will include up to 960 volunteers over the age of 18.

“This, we believe, will begin in December of this year and will be conducted in a number of medical centers around the country. In that phase we hope to ensure the safety of the vaccine and determine the exact dosages needed in order to proceed,” Prof. Shapira said.

The third phase will include 30,000 volunteers and is scheduled to begin in April or May of next year—depending on the success of the first two phases.

This will be the final phase of trials and if successful, will mean the population could be vaccinated. However, at least part of the trials will be conducted abroad.

Shapira said he saw no difficulty in finding volunteers locally. “We have more than we need,” he said but explained that it would be faster and more efficient to conduct the third phase of the trials outside of Israel.

“We are seeing an interest in our work from other countries and are preparing to provide vaccines to our neighbors, including in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza,” Shapira said, though he would not elaborate on other countries that may have shown an interest in the Israeli vaccine.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on October 26, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska/pexels.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the headway made by the Israel Institute for Biological Research in producing a vaccine against the corona virus. Pray that their progress will continue, and ask the Lord for His safeguard over the clinical trials. Pray that the vaccine will be ready for use sooner rather than later, bringing protection to Israelis and other nations as well.

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.


- Psalm 103:1–2

Israel Hails “Important Victory” as US Greenlights Funding Projects in Judea and Samaria

by Kate Norman

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US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman

Thursday, 29 October 2020 | Israel and the US on Wednesday signed an agreement to remove geographical restrictions for US funding of scientific research in development in Israel, effectively opening the door for US money to pour into Israeli scientific projects in Judea and Samaria as well as the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem.

“Today, we are applying the Israel–US science agreement to Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the ceremony. “This is a great change. This is a victory against all of the organizations and countries that boycott Judea and Samaria.”

The three US–Israeli foundations centered in the agreement—the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), the Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation (BARD—were established in the 1970s.

They were established on the agreement to exclude funding for such projects in areas Israel gained control of during the defensive Six Day War of 1967: Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank) and east Jerusalem. The Golan Heights, which came under Israeli control in 1981, was also barred from receiving funding.

At a ceremony at Ariel University in Samaria, Prime Minister Netanyahu joined US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to sign amendments lifting the geographical restrictions as well as an agreement to advance government-to-government cooperation in science and technology.

“This is an important victory against all those who seek to delegitimize everything Israeli beyond the 1967 lines,” Netanyahu said.

“And to those malevolent boycotters, I have a simple message today: You are wrong and you will fail. You are wrong because you deny what cannot be denied, the millennial connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel—it’s over 3,000 years old.

“And you will fail because we are resolved to continue to build our life in our ancestral homeland and to never be uprooted from here again,” the prime minister concluded.

BIRD, BARD and BSF combined have contributed over US $1.4 billion in funding for over 7,300 research projects, the US Embassy in Israel noted in a statement. Before this agreement, that funding was limited geographically from the post-1967 areas.

The new agreement “[depoliticizes] a process that should never have been politicized in the first place,” Ambassador Friedman said in his speech.

“Plainly, this geographic restriction within these agreements was an anachronism. We are righting an old wrong, and we are strengthening yet again the unbreakable bond between our two countries.”

Not everyone sees it as righting a wrong, however. The Palestinian Authority rushed to condemn the move, warning that it was another US step toward recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the contested region.

“This is a dangerous and unacceptable precedent,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesperson stated.

“We reject this American policy which attempts to help Israel consolidate its occupation of Palestinian lands,” Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh continued.

President Trump has taken the US policy on Israel long strides in his four years: moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and declaring Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as “not inherently illegal.”

His “Vision for Peace” proposal for solving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict allotted 30% of Judea and Samaria for official Israeli sovereignty while the other 70% would be given for a future Palestinian state—provided the Palestinians meet certain conditions.

However, the Abraham Accords put a halt to Netanyahu pushing forward to apply Israeli sovereignty over the region. The prime minister, however, insisted that the plans were paused, not completely off the table.

Experts across the spectrum are debating whether this newest agreement is the first step toward the US recognizing Israel sovereignty in the contested biblical heartland or whether it is merely a “consolation prize,” as one analyst called it.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 29, 2020)

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

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for this remarkable development! Pray that it will send a clear message of defeat to those who promote BDS and ask the Lord to bless the efforts of both Israel and the US as they seek to right this historic wrong and open the doors for cooperation in the areas of science and technology.

Scripture

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.


- Psalm 31:19–20   

Iran Rebuilding Nuclear Facility Underground

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Google maps screenshot of the Natanz nuclear development facility in Iran

Thursday, 29 October 2020 | What happened: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran has started building an underground centrifuge assembly plant in Natanz.

  • In an interview with AP, Rafael Grossi, director-general of the IAEA, revealed that the Iranians “have started, but it’s not completed. It’s a long process,” but would not give further details, as it’s “confidential information.”
  • According to the IAEA, Iran also continues to stockpile greater amounts of low-enriched uranium.
  • Meanwhile, later this week in the US, Congress will discuss a bipartisan bill to allow the sale of Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to Israel. The MOP is known as a bunker-buster bomb and is capable of penetrating heavily fortified underground infrastructure.

Context: Following the explosion in the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC) at the Natanz nuclear site in July, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear department, said the destroyed above-ground facility was being replaced with “a more modern, wider and more comprehensive hall in all dimensions in the heart of the mountain near Natanz.”

  • Natanz is considered Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility and the ICAC was designed to assemble thousands of advanced centrifuges each year. According to the US-based think-tank ISIS, its destruction set back Iran’s plans to expand its centrifuge program by at least a year.
  • Since US President [Donald] Trump withdrew from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] nuclear agreement in May 2018, Iran has been steadily increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium.
  • However, according to the IAEA’s current assessment, Iran currently does not possess a “significant quantity” of highly enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb.
  • Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that due to JCPOA violations, “Iran will have enough enriched uranium in a few months for two nuclear bombs. And Iran has been working on a new generation of centrifuges. It’s called the IR9, which will multiply Iran’s enrichment capability fifty-fold.”
  • Israeli analysts make the distinction between Iran possessing enough enriched uranium for a bomb and its ability to assemble a nuclear weapon. According to an interview in Yediot Ahronot last month by the outgoing IDF [Israel Defense Forces] head of intelligence, Brig.–Gen. Dror Shalom, if Iran decided tomorrow that they were ready to develop a nuclear bomb, it would take another two years.
  • The arrangement for Israel to procure the MOP is thought to be part of the Israeli–US understanding to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, following US plans to sell F-35 fighter jets to the UAE. Israel has sought to acquire the MOP for several years but does not have the aircraft capable to use the bomb. It is the heaviest conventional bomb in the world, weighing 14 tons and able to penetrate 60 meters [197 ft] underground. It is regarded as a vital component if Israel were ever to decide to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Looking forward: US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will visit Israel [Thursday] and meet with Defense Minister Gantz for their third meeting in the last few weeks.

  • The congressional bill, the US–Israel Common Defense Authorization Act cosponsored by Republican and Democratic Representatives, is expected to be introduced on Friday.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by BICOM on October 28, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Imagery @2020 CNES / Airbus, Map data @2020

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for His wisdom and direction for the leaders of Israel, the US and the nations as the threat of a nuclear Iran grows closer to reality. Beseech Him for the strategies that will bring Iran’s reign of terror to an end and mean freedom for the Iranian people.

Scripture

Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”


- Psalm 83:1–4

President Trump: Ten More Countries to Normalize Ties with Israel after Elections

by Ilse Strauss

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US President Trump

Wednesday, 28 October 2020 | Up to ten more Arab and Muslim countries are set to join the Israel peace circle—as soon as next week’s US presidential elections have come and gone, US President Donald Trump vowed yesterday.

Addressing reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before hitting the campaign trail, President Trump said there are “five definites” and “five pretty much definites,” making for a total of 10 countries expected to normalize ties with their former foe, Israel. 

The US president added that the Jewish state’s prospective peace partners include “the big ones” and “the smaller ones.”

“We’re going to have a lot,” he predicted. “I think we’ll have all of them eventually.”

Asked whether the normalization deals will be clinched before or after the US heads to the polls, the president conceded that it would “largely” happen after the next commander-in-chief is in place.

“We’re doing a lot of work right now,” President Trump said, “and I’m involved in all of those deals.”

The US president also took a moment to celebrate the three landmark normalization agreements reached over the past three months between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

“We’re very excited about it, and we did it a much different way than they’ve been working over the last 30 years…The beauty is it’s peace in the Middle East with no money and with no blood. There’s no blood all over the sand. And it’s happening.”

President Trump spoke days after Israel’s Channel 12 news claimed that Oman is next in line for peace with Israel, possibly even before next week’s elections.

According to the report, Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) Chief Yossi Cohen also believes that Saudi Arabia may very well be the fifth Arab country to formalize relations with their Jewish neighbor. However, Riyadh is in no hurry to make the move and will only make a final decision after the US election.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 28, 2020)

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that Israel will proceed with caution in these relationships and ask the Lord to bless the leaders of all the countries involved with wisdom and sincerity as they move forward. Pray that Israel will be a light, revealing the faithfulness and mercy of the God of Israel in this and all its relationships with the nations.

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

Israel Extends Virus Unemployment Payout to People over 67

by Gad Lior

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Israelis who have been unemployed for at least 100 days starting March 1 will receive a relief check of 2,000 NIS (illustrative)

Wednesday, 28 October 2020 | Finance Minister Israel Katz announced Tuesday evening that one-time unemployment payouts to Israelis who’ve been unemployed for an extended period due to coronavirus will be extended to include those aged 67 and over.

The Finance Ministry presented the original draft of the bill a few weeks ago. According to the draft, Israelis who have been unemployed or furloughed for at least 100 days starting March 1, will receive a NIS 2,000 [US $590] relief check.

“I have decided to make those aged 67 and above who have been fired or placed on unpaid leave eligible for a grant,” Katz said.

“We will continue to do whatever it takes to help the self-employed, salaried workers and business owners to get through this period. I will continue to fight so that many can return to the workforce soon and bring about renewed growth to the economy.”

The amendment to the unemployment law will be brought for Knesset [Parliament] vote in the coming days, and if approved, it will make some 23,000 elderly Israelis eligible for compensation.

Spouses who are both eligible for the one-time payment will also receive an extra NIS 500 [US $147].

The National Insurance Institute will transfer the funds directly to people’s bank accounts.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on October 27, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: RJA1988/pixabay.com

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for the assistance being extended to those who have lost their income due to COVID-19. Pray that the Lord will help those families to supernaturally stretch the money, and pray that He will comfort their hearts as they attempt to deal with the overwhelming discouragement caused by the pandemic. Also pray that Christians around the world will continue to give generously, as they have been doing throughout the pandemic, so that Christian love can be expressed through the work of Bridges for Peace.

Scripture

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.


- Psalm 34:18

Action
We rejoice over Minister Katz's decision to include Israel's elderly as recipients of the special one-time unemployment COVID-19 payouts and applaud Israel's efforts to care for the needy during this time of crisis. At the same time, we know that the NIS 2,000 (US $590) relief check will sadly be but a drop in the bucket. Two lockdowns in six months have plunged many Israelis into a yawning pit of need. They lost the ability to pay for necessities like rent or food months ago. The situation is so dire that the payout—welcome as it is—is sadly not sufficient to bring any kind of lasting relief. That is where Bridges for Peace comes in. With the help of Christians around the world, we can come alongside these Israelis, meeting their basic need for sustenance through regular food parcels. Will you donate today to help put food on empty tables and show them the love and support of Christians?

Israel, US Sign Joint Declaration Reaffirming Military Edge Promise

by Yoav Zitun

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Defense Secretary Esper and Defense Minister Gantz at the Pentagon (illustrative).

Friday, 23 October 2020 | Defense Minister Benny Gantz met US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at the Pentagon on Thursday where they signed a joint declaration confirming Washington’s strategic commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East.

“In recent weeks, we have held important discussions that ensure the United States’ commitment to maintaining Israel’s military superiority,” Gantz said.

“We are now entering an era of normalization in the Middle East, which can help against Iranian aggression across the region. Together with the United States and allies, old and new, we will ensure fruitful cooperation. I would like to thank the American administration and in particular, my friend, Secretary of Defense Esper, who promoted the issue with me.”

Gantz’s visit mainly revolved around advancing Israel’s bid to purchase advanced US-made aircrafts such as F-15 and F-35 fighter jets, transport helicopters, and probably also a V-22 helicopter.

For this purpose, cabinet ministers will convene this coming Sunday to approve a part of the procurement, which is expected to be funded by US aid funds. However, the Ministry of Finance is expected to oppose the motion and promote a different outline formulated by the defense establishment.

As part of the outline, one of the US arms manufacturers supplying the weapons will take out a loan to immediately supply Israel with the new fighter jets.

Israel’s demands intensified after reports claimed the US and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are expected to sign an arms deal on the sale of F-35 fighter jets by December, with silent agreement from Israel.

After the signing of the agreement, a senior defense official showed great satisfaction and added that Saudi Arabia may soon join the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan in peace talks with the Jewish state.

“This commitment is permanent and with the things we hear about in the Middle East with the UAE, Bahrain and soon Sudan; Saudi Arabia will also step out of the closet soon,” the officials said.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on October 22, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Lisa Ferdinando / U.S. Secretary of Defense

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for America’s commitment to Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East. Pray that arms deals with the various countries will not threaten Israel’s position, and ask the Lord to constantly remind Israel’s citizens and her leaders that it is in fact the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, who insures Israel’s position of power.

Scripture

In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.


- Psalm 62:7–8

Israel, the Abraham Accords and the United Nations

by Kate Norman

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President Trump speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the phone about a Sudan–Israel peace agreement on October 23, 2020.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020 | The US and Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations urged the international body on Monday to take advantage of the unique opportunity for peace in the newfound normalization of ties between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and now Sudan.

The UN should embrace the fresh peace momentum in order to “promote peace and security in the region,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said at the monthly UN meeting dedicated to the Israel–Palestinian conflict.

“For decades, many in the international community have fixated on a single solution to the conflict,” Erdan said in his first speech to the international body after replacing his predecessor, former Ambassador Dany Danon.

“They vote for the same anti-Israel resolutions, recycle old talking points and ignore issues that are crucial for ending the conflict,” Erdan continued. “They also ignore the fact that this approach has only emboldened Palestinian rejectionism.” 

Erdan’s American counterpart, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, echoed his sentiments that the UN Security Council repeats “decades-old approaches to this conflict each month that go nowhere.”

“Within the UN,” Craft continued, “the United States continues to oppose the annual barrage of more than a dozen perennial resolutions against Israel—resolutions in which the text barely changes from year to year—a fact that underlines how habitual the UN’s attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinians have become.”

Lauding US President Trump’s “Vision for Peace” proposal to end the Israel–Palestinian conflict, Craft urged the UN to support the new direction the Middle East is heading and called the Palestinians to shrug off their old policies of rejectionism and come to the negotiating table.

“The table has been set for two,” Craft said, “and peace is within reach.”

Instead, Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riad Malki blamed Israel—not the Palestinians—for the stagnancy in negotiations. Malki then echoed the same call that PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued in last month’s Council meeting for an international conference to negotiate a two-state solution.

Both the Israeli and US envoys dismissed that proposal as an effort to stall instead of engaging in direct bilateral discussions.

“How is this different than every other meeting convened on this issue over the past 60 years?” Ambassador Craft asked, while Ambassador Erdan charged that “Abbas wastes time calling for another useless conference.”

Instead, Craft challenged: “The United States has demonstrated for the first time in 25 years that a different approach to the situation in the Middle East can yield results. Today, because of American leadership, Israel is closer to its Arab neighbors than ever before; and its Palestinian, direct neighbors should take advantage of this positive momentum.

“History will judge how this Council responds to this historic moment—it can either shrink from the challenge or rise to the occasion,” Craft charged the international body.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 27, 2020)

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo Tia Dufour/flickr.com

Photo License: flickr.com

Prayer Focus
Pray that the current movement toward peace in the Middle East would in fact be recognized by the UN. Pray that old and ineffectual methods will be set aside and a new approach to the ages-old conflict will be embraced. Beseech the Lord that the violence will end and the Palestinian leadership will come to the table with a sincere intent to make peace.

Scripture

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.


- Psalm 32:7

Israeli and UAE Soccer Teams to Hold Friendly Match in Abu Dhabi

by Shimon Elbaz

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The UAE’s Al-Ain FC invited an Israeli soccer team to a “Game of Peace” in Abu Dhabi. (illustrative)

Monday, 26 October 2020 | Maccabi Haifa FC announced on Sunday a cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates’ [UAE] Al-Ain FC, and the two teams are expected to meet for a friendly match in Abu Dhabi.

“I am happy to inform you that our club has been invited to hold a friendly soccer match called the ‘Game of Peace,’ in Abu Dhabi,” said Maccabi Haifa owner, Yaakov Shachar.

“We informed them that we would be happy to play against them in Abu Dhabi and host them in our city, Haifa. Their positive and happy response has just been received and the date for the game will be set later, according to the two clubs’ schedules,” Shachar added.

“I have always believed it was possible to develop friendly relations through sports. We will sign a memorandum of understanding between the two clubs in a matter of days to create a relationship that will include collaborations on both the sporting and business side.”

Al-Ain is the most decorated team in UAE history and has won the local championship 13 times and the Super Cup five times. In 2018, the team reached the final of the Club World Cup, where it lost to European champions Real Madrid.

The agreement between the two clubs was made possible after the UAE, together with Bahrain, normalized relations with Israel in Washington on September 15.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on October 25, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Twitter @Khaled_alameeri/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray for the Lord’s blessing on the Israeli soccer players as they travel to Abu Dhabi for this historic game. Thank the Lord that the reality of peace is going beyond the halls of government to touch the lives of the people of the Middle East, drawing them together in relationships of respect and appreciation.

Scripture

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.


- Psalm 5:11

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