Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, September 11, 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.

Israel, UAE to Ink Peace Accord Next Week in Washington

by Kate Norman

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Jared Kushner helps finalize the details of the Israeli—UAE peace plan.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 | The historic normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will be signed into an official agreement in Washington DC on Tuesday, a senior White House official told the Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel with an Israeli delegation to meet with an Emirati delegation led by Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayad, brother of Emirati Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, US officials told the Times of Israel on condition of anonymity.

“I am proud to leave for Washington next week at the invitation of President Trump and to participate in the historic ceremony at the White House on the establishment of a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Netanyahu confirmed in a statement.

An official from the Emirati Foreign Ministry also confirmed that Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayad will be traveling to DC to sign the peace accord with Israel.

“It will be a momentous occasion in the histories of our two countries & the region,” Director of Communications Hend Al Otaiba tweeted.

The US-brokered landmark peace between the Jewish state and the Arab Gulf state was announced last month. Weeks after, high-level Israeli and American officials made history when they departed Ben Gurion airport in the first-ever direct flight from Israel to the UAE—traveling over Saudi airspace for the first time.

The delegations—led by White House Special Adviser Jared Kushner, Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and other top diplomats—met with their Emirati counterparts in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.

The skies have opened and Israeli airlines have prepared for direct flights and tourism between the nations. Direct telephone lines, which once were blocked, have opened, allowing Israeli and Emirati businesspeople, politicians and friendly citizens to talk, build relationships and get to know each other.

Now, the historic Abraham Accord, the agreement of peace between Israel and the third Arab state following Egypt and Jordan, is being signed and made official, sealing the blossoming friendship between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.

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

Photo Credit: US Embassy Jerusalem/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the changing climate between Israel and the Arab states of the region. Pray that the relationship with the UAE will continue to strengthen, blessing both nations, and pray that the Lord’s hand of protection will keep Israel from any and all harm.

Scripture

He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand.


- Psalm 121:3–5

Hamas’s Wave of Environmental Terrorism Unpacked

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A fire in southern Israel sparked by a balloon

Thursday, 10 September 2020 | In August, terrorists in Gaza launched rockets and hundreds of explosive balloons into Israel. These balloons ignited fires on thousands of acres of Israeli land, terrorizing civilians. Here are some things you need to know about these attacks.

The balloon-arson attacks are not a new phenomenon

Since the Gaza border events of 2018, terrorists in Gaza have launched balloons with incendiary and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attached to them. This has become such a pervasive method of terror that Hamas and other terrorist organizations within the Gaza Strip have established units within their organizations to manage manufacturing and launching these incendiary devices. For example, the Hamas-affiliated Sons of Al-Zawari unit is dedicated to terrorizing Israeli civilians with IEDs attached to balloons.

In addition, “night confusion units” were created to erode the security of the Israel–Gaza fence, threatening nearby civilians. “Night confusion units” hurl explosives, launch firecrackers, blind soldiers with laser pointers and burn tires to create a dangerous environment for civilians.

Balloons might seem harmless, but these attacks cause critical damage, and are potentially lethal

The ecological and economic impact that these fires cause can be irreparable. Terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have carried out some of the largest acts of environmental terrorism in the world. During August 2020, fires sparked by balloons destroyed thousands of acres of natural forests and farmland in southern Israel, killing massive amounts of wildlife. Local farmers’ crops, farming equipment and livelihoods were damaged.

In addition to the physical damage, these attacks cause long-lasting psychological damage to the people who live in these communities, especially children. Terror organizations often deliberately create explosive balloons that will target children. For example, on August 17, 2020, an incendiary device attached to a terror balloon started a fire near an Israeli kindergarten in Sderot. Thanks to the speed and coordination of nearby firefighters, no one was hurt. However, the impact, both physical and psychological, was drastic.

The launching of explosive and incendiary devices such as balloons is just one part of a broader wave of terror that Hamas inflicts on Israeli communities:

The threats that Israeli civilians face from terror organizations in Gaza do not start or stop with the arson-balloon attacks. Other means of terror that are frequently deployed by Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza include rockets, violent border riots, Molotov cocktails, border infiltrations, stabbings, terror tunnels, kidnappings, suicide bombings and more. For example, on August 21, 2020, Hamas fired 12 rockets from Gaza into Israel overnight, targeting Israeli homes. Of these rockets, nine were intercepted by the Iron Dome.

The Israel Defense Forces will not allow this wave of terror to continue

In response to the violent and persistent terror attacks from Gaza, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has used technology ranging from laser interceptors to drones to stop Hamas’ environmental terrorism. Additionally, during August 2020, the IDF struck approximately 100 military targets belonging to Hamas. These included weapons manufacturing centers, military compounds, observation posts, underground infrastructures, naval targets and aerial platforms used to launch rockets, drones and explosive and incendiary balloons.

The IDF will continue to defend Israeli civilians from all enemy threats in Gaza.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit on September 8, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: idf.il

Photo License: idf.il

Prayer Focus
Beseech the Lord for His blessing of peace for the people of southern Israel. Pray that the IDF’s retaliatory actions will be effective in ending all forms of terror from Gaza and ask that His divine comfort will bring psychological healing to all who have been affected by these terror attacks, especially the children.

Scripture

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


- Psalm 29:11

Israel to Help 2,000 Ethiopian Jews Come Home

by Ilse Strauss

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The Falash Mura community in Ethiopia

Thursday, 10 September 2020 | The Israeli government yesterday greenlighted a plan to help 2,000 Ethiopian Jews come home to Israel by the end of 2020.

The champion of the plan, Immigrant Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata hailed it as a “lifeline” for those yearning to return to their ancient homeland, particularly in light of the mounting coronavirus health crisis ravaging Ethiopia. Tamano-Shata is an Ethiopian Jew who, together with her father and brothers, was evacuated by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, from neighboring Sudan during the 1984 Operation Moses rescue mission.

According to Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, some 8,000 members of the Falash Mura community are currently living in large compounds in the Ethiopian cities Addis Ababa and Gondar as they wait to make aliyah (immigration to Israel).

These compounds have been particularly hard hit in the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, with poverty and malnutrition bringing the communities to the brink of a humanitarian disaster. In light of the looming crises, Tamano-Shata has been campaigning for the funds and the means to bring as many Falash Mura to the Jewish state as soon as possible.

Tamano-Shata last month proposed a NIS 1.3 billion (US $380 million) framework to the Knesset (Parliament) aliyah committee to cover the immigration and absorption costs for all 8,000 remaining Falash Mura members, with 4,500 arriving in Israel by year-end and the rest following by 2023. However, due to budgetary constraints, the 2,000 target was set for 2020, with Tamano-Shata vowing that the remaining 6,000 will soon follow.

Taking to social media, Tamano-Shata celebrated the soon to be new Israelis’ homecoming. “…We have succeeded! A final agreement has been reached…that will bring 2,000 people to Israel [by] the end of 2020. I intend to meet the target, then complete bringing all of the remaining people who are waiting…”

She continued, “It is said, ‘whoever saves one life saves an entire world.’ For many…who have been waiting for many years to immigrate to Israel and are now living in hunger, this is a lifeline.”

Echoing Tamano-Shata, Member of Knesset Michal Cotler-Wunsh echoed the ethos of aliyah. “Bringing these people to Israel is the vision of the State of Israel. Ethiopian Jews have prayed for thousands of years to come to Israel. If we do not bring them to Israel now, they will die there,” she said.

Editor’s note: Thousands of years ago, the Hebrew prophets prophesied about a time when God would bring back the Children of Israel from the four corners of the world to the land of their fathers. Today, we are seeing those prophecies fulfilled. God has called Bridges for Peace to partner with Him in this homecoming.

Many of the new immigrants—including the Falash Mura—arrive in Israel with meager possessions and no savings. They barely have enough to eat, let alone take the time to settle into a new country and culture while they learn the language and seek employment. That is where we come in. To help new immigrants prosper in their new home country, Bridges for Peace comes alongside them with generous welcome gifts of blankets, school kits for the children, a set of pots and pans, kitchen utensils and a copy of the Tanakh (Gen.–Mal.) in Hebrew alongside Russian or Spanish.

Will you help us bless a new immigrant family to let them know they are welcomed in Israel by Christians who believe God’s promise to bring His people back to His land?

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

Photo Credit: monaxle/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord for Minister Tamano-Shata’s commitment to bringing the remaining Ethiopian Jews home to Israel. Pray that the 2,000 slated to come this year will arrive with no complications and beseech the Lord that the remaining 6,000 will arrive next year, fulfilling His prophesies and reuniting families in the land they have so long dreamed of.

Scripture

“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land.”’”


- Ezekiel 37:21

Israel Foils Bus Bombing Terror Attack

by Yoav Zitun

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The junction near Rehovot where the attack was to take place

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 | Israel’s domestic security service [Shin Bet] revealed on Monday they arrested an Arab–Israeli man recruited by Hamas to place an explosive device at a bus stop in central Israel.

The Shin Bet said Mahmoud Maqdak was arrested along with nine of his family members and acquaintances on suspicion of either knowing about or helping to plan the attack.

Most of the suspects are residents of Segev Shalom, a Bedouin town and a local council in southern Israel near Beersheva.

According to the Shin Bet, the terrorist organization contacted Maqdak sometime in 2019 following his marriage to a woman who lives in the Gaza Strip. Hamas apparently exploited the man’s ability to freely cross Israel’s border with Gaza to gather information, including the locations of the Iron Dome defense systems.

Maqdak was transferred money by the organization on several occasions and underwent military training, where he learned to assemble an explosive device and was eventually instructed to carry out a terror attack in Israeli territory.

According to the Shin Bet, he purchased explosive materials with intentions to build a bomb last June and began searching for the location of the potential attack, while remaining in constant contact with operatives in Gaza. He picked a bus stop at Bilu Junction near the city of Rehovot as the place for the attack.

He eventually went back on his decision to carry out the bombing and burned the explosive materials he purchased for the device. He was arrested by the security services shortly after.

His brother Ahmad was aware of his brother’s connections with Hamas and his intentions to carry out the attack but did not take any measures to prevent it.

Furthermore, it appears that Ahmad helped Mahmoud gather intelligence for Hamas, including taking images of Iron Dome systems, recording movement of military planes and filming locations of bus stops near IDF [Israel Defense Forces] bases. 

The two brothers were charged on Monday with conspiring to commit a series of grave security offenses.

Other family members are accused of helping Mahmoud obtain two components for the construction of the bomb.

“This is further evidence of Hamas military wing’s efforts to establish terrorist infrastructure in Israel as part of its systematic and extensive campaign against the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Israel,” said a senior Shin Bet official. “This demonstrates Hamas continues its strategy to destabilize the region, despite the ongoing [cease-fire] efforts.”

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on September 7, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: משתמש:בן-ציוןממ/Atefrat/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Praise God that Mahmoud Maqdak was arrested before any harm came to innocent civilians. Pray that all those involved in this terror plot will be brought to justice. Thank the Lord for the work of Shin Bet and other Israeli security forces and ask the Lord for continual divine protection on each of them as they carry out their critical but dangerous work on behalf of the nation He loves.

Scripture

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.


- Proverbs 18:10

Hamas and Hezbollah Building United Front against Israel

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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (left) and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (illustrative)

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 | What happened: Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah met with a Hamas delegation led by Ismail Haniyeh in Beirut on Saturday night.

  • They both reiterated their total opposition to the Trump plan and to any Arab state normalizing relations with Israel.
  • According to Hezbollah: “Both sides discussed the power of ties between Hezbollah and Hamas…the relations are based on trust, brotherhood, jihad [Islamic war with unbelievers], and a shared fate. Nasrallah and Haniyeh spoke about developing mechanisms for cooperation and coordination between their organizations.”
  • Commenting on the Israel–UAE agreement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said: “Abu Dhabi’s shameful move to form an agreement with the fake Zionist regime is dangerous, and the United Arab Emirates and other countries that support it will bear the consequences.”
  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the US, Israel and the UAE agreed to form an alliance against the Iranian threat. Pompeo said: “Israel and the United Arab Emirates have found a way to build relations that could lead to the formation of a coalition against Iran, which will ultimately prevent the Iranian threat from reaching the shores of the United States or harming anyone in the Middle East.”
  • On Friday, Israel expanded more diplomatic ties as Kosovo and Serbia agreed to open embassies in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Kosovo will be the first Muslim majority country to open an embassy in Jerusalem. As I have been saying in recent days, the circle of peace and recognition of Israel is expanding, and additional countries are expected to join it.”
  • On Saturday, the new president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, announced plans to open a new diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.
  • [Sunday] night, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spoke on the phone with US President Donald Trump. King Salman told President Trump that while he appreciates US efforts to build peace in the region, Saudi Arabia wants to see a fair and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue, based on the Arab Peace Initiative (API) proposed by the king’s deceased brother in 2002.

Context: Despite Hamas (Sunni) and Hezbollah (Shiite) following different sects of Islam, ties between them have grown due to their shared animosity towards Israel and their shared patronage from Iran. Hamas leader Haniyeh traveled to Iran and took an active role at the funeral of former Iranian commander Maj.–Gen. Qassam Soleimani, who was killed in a US air strike in January.

  • The Saudis remain committed to the API, where Arab states would normalize ties with Israel in return for a full Israeli withdrawal to 1967 lines. However, last week the Saudi agreed to open their airspace to flights between Israel and the UAE.
  • In the context of the deal with the UAE, Israeli security officials are contemplating the compensation that Israel will request from the US in exchange for its willingness to accept the sale of F-35 fighter planes and other advanced American weapons to the UAE. According to Nahum Barnea in Yediot Ahronot, “Israel is likely to ask, inter alia, that the production and delivery of weapons systems to Israel as part of the American military aid be moved up by one year. The proposal is important in security and budgetary terms, considering the economic crisis and its ramifications for the defense budget.”

Looking ahead: The agreement between Israel and the UAE is expected to be signed within the next two weeks at the White House. Axios reports that it will be a “treaty of peace” with the same legal and diplomatic status of peace agreements Israel has signed with Egypt and Jordan.

  • Bahrain is strongly tipped to be the next Arab state to normalize ties with Israel but [is] likely to wait until after the Israel–UAE agreement is completed.

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by BICOM on September 7, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Nasrallah Photo: Khamenei.ir/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Nasrallah Photo: wikimedia.org

Photo Credit: Haniyeh Photo: Mehmettorun/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Haniyeh Photo: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for God’s protection of those nations that are courageously stepping forward to establish relations with Israel. Pray that any plans Hamas and Hezbollah may have to work jointly to disrupt this burgeoning peace in the region would be discovered and kept from coming to fruition. Beseech the Lord that a coalition will be formed that will end the Iranian threat once and for all.

Scripture

For they intended evil against You; they devised a plot which they are not able to perform. Therefore You will make them turn their back.


- Psalm 21:11–12a

Sea of Galilee Reaches a 27-Year High

by Ilse Strauss

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The Sea of Galilee

Monday, 7 September 2020 | As Israel continues to bake in another record-breaking heat wave, the Israel Water Authority has offered some refreshing news: the Sea of Galilee stands at an astonishing 27-year high for the start of September.

Israel’s largest freshwater lake and the source of a quarter of the country’s water currently hovers at 209.535 meters (687 feet) below sea level—just 0.735 meters (2.41 feet) shy of the so-called upper red line, the maximum level above which the lake would flood its banks. This is the highest level since 1993, when the water level touched on 209.33 meters (686 feet) below sea level at the beginning of September.

This is welcome news for a number of reasons.

In a semi-arid country like Israel, water is a precious commodity and every drop of rain counts. Moreover, with precipitation restricted to the rainy season following the Feast of Tabernacles in October through Passover in late March, the long, dry stretch of scorching summer usually takes a heavy toll on man and nature.

By the time Israelis have sweltered through the hottest months and September rolls around, the land is parched and the water sources dwindling. Yet this year, despite the unseasonably hot weather, the Sea of Galilee’s level has remained impressively high.

Moreover, over the past few years, the majority of rainy seasons have seen precipitation ranging from highly concerning to barely enough. In August 2018, the Water Authority offered a dour prediction for precipitation during the coming winter months, warning that the Promised Land was set for a sixth year of insufficient rain. They also warned that the Sea of Galilee was drying up rapidly and fast approaching its black line, the level marking a dangerously high concentration of salt and algae blooms, which makes the water unfit for consumption and can do permanent damage to the water quality, flora and fauna. Israel was concerned over a looming ecological disaster.

Yet the Water Authority’s predictions proved incorrect. Two seasons of particularly abundant rainfall quenched the thirsty land and replenished the Sea of Galilee to its highest level in two decades. In fact, after years of the water level creeping further from the shore and islands appearing in patches on the once smooth water surface, the Sea of Galilee overflowed its banks, submerging the vegetation along the shore.

The benefits of the miraculous rainfall are still visible today—months after the last drops of rain for the season have fallen and particularly in the fresh water body where a drought disaster loomed not too long ago.

With another rainy season just around the corner, Israelis and many Christians around the world hope and pray that the Promised Land will once again be blessed with an abundance of showers to soak the land and fill the Sea of Galilee to the brim.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 7, 2020)

Photo Credit: bridgesforpeace.com

Prayer Focus
Thank the Lord for the blessing of rain. Praise Him for His promised provision for the Land of Israel and for the bounty of the land made possible by abundant rainfall.

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.


- Deuteronomy 28:12a

First Commercial Flights between Israel and UAE Ready for Takeoff

by Kate Norman

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Israeli carrier Israir

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 | Following the historic normalization between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Israeli airlines are preparing for direct flights between Ben Gurion airport and Dubai.

Israeli airline Israir has already booked eight round-trip flights from Israel to Dubai, according to a flight timetable published by the Israel Aviation Authority. The flights are booked throughout the month of October, when Israel is scheduled to open its borders to tourists after being closed for months due to COVID-19. 

Israeli flagship airline El Al has yet to seek permits for commercial flights, an El Al spokesman told Reuters, but the carrier is slated to begin cargo flights to Dubai. The flights are scheduled to carry agricultural and tech products weekly, El Al said, to create an “import and export” link to the UAE and the Far East.

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia officially opened its airspace for Israeli use last week, cutting six hours off the flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi and creating a more direct route for Israel to the Gulf states and the Eastern world.

“Flights will be cheaper and shorter, and it will lead to robust tourism and develop our economy,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the Saudi announcement.

Last week, El Al made history as flight 971—with the word “peace” painted on the cockpit in Arabic, English and Hebrew—carried a delegation of Israeli and American diplomats to the Emirati capital in the first direct flight from Israel to the UAE. The delegations met with their Emirati counterparts in Abu Dhabi to continue peace talks, which are set to be codified in an official treaty in Washington DC in the near future.

The Jewish state and the Emirati Gulf state announced the landmark agreement in August, making the UAE the third Arab state to normalize ties with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 8, 2020)

Photo Credit: Oyoyoy/wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray that the opening of air travel between Israel and the UAE will help to strengthen the Israeli economy as tourists arrive from the UAE and other Arab nations eager to learn about and experience the nation they have for so long held in derision. Pray that tourism will rapidly expand and pray that true friendships will be established between the two nations.

Scripture

“The LORD will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”


- Deuteronomy 28:8

Netanyahu Welcomes Delegation from Chad to Jerusalem

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Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with Chad President Idriss Deby for the first time in 2018

Wednesday, 9 September 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, [on Tuesday] at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem, met with Chad Cabinet Chairman Abdelkerim Deby and head of the Chad intelligence service, Ahmed Kogri.

The prime minister discussed with them the appointment of ambassadors and the opening of representations, including the possibility of opening an embassy in Jerusalem. They also discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation in a range of areas, including the war on terrorism, cyber, water and agriculture.

Prime Minister Netanyahu [said] at the start of the meeting: “The most important thing is give my warmest regards to your father and to the people of Chad. I mentioned our relations in the discussions about beginning peace with the Emirates. I mention it and I want to do more than mention it. I want to be able to advance it even further. So welcome. It’s good to see you.”

During the day, the delegation from Chad met with NSC head Meir Ben-Shabbat and Prime Minister’s Office Acting Director General Ronen Peretz and also held a series of meetings with other officials.

Source: (This press release was originally published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on September 8, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: VINnews/Youtube screenshot

Source: YouTube

Prayer Focus
Ask the Lord to pour out His blessing on the nation of Chad as they take steps to be a blessing to Israel by establishing relations, opening trade and strengthening bilateral cooperation. Pray that their embassy will soon be established in Jerusalem and ask the Lord that this relationship will be a further encouragement to other nations to become part of the growing number of countries that are becoming true friends of the nation He calls the apple of His eye.

Scripture

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 12:3

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