Displaying items by tag: israel
The veteran politician has the official mandate to form a new government, paving the way for his comeback as the head of what is widely expected to be the most right-wing coalition in the country’s history. However, the 73-year-old promised to serve all Israelis, ‘those who voted for us and those who did not - it is my responsibility’. After unprecedented political gridlock forced five elections in under four years, Netanyahu’s Likud party and its ultraorthodox and ultranationalist allies received a clear majority in parliament. He must now build a coalition with his allies and quickly wrap up the negotiations. His next moves will be closely scrutinised as unease mounts in some quarters over his policy plans and the goals of his controversial governing partners. Violence has soared between Israel and the Palestinians recently, causing the deadliest period in years in the West Bank, with near-daily army raids and increased attacks on Israelis.
The Chosen People and the Promised Land of scripture are testaments to God's promises. Despite limited natural resources, Israelis have developed thriving agricultural and industrial sectors in under twenty years. Home to Christian, Muslim, and Jewish sites, Jerusalem has been conquered and reconquered for 3,000 years. The Old City reflects ancient rifts between Palestinian and Jewish communities. Freedom of religion is a right, but Messianic Jews struggle for political recognition. Christians are often harassed by Jews and Muslims alike. 75% of Israel follow Judaism, barely 2% Christianity, and the rest Islam. However, the gospel is spreading, interest in the Word of God is increasing; and powerful testimonies by Christian Jews abound as they minister to their brothers and sisters in ways that others cannot. House churches grow as God empowers evangelical leaders to spread the good news that ‘the Messiah has come and is coming back soon’.
Brazil’s Lula da Silva’s presidential election victory brings renewed hope for our largest rainforest as he pledged to combat climate change and reverse his predecessor’s policies. Pray for Lula to keep his pledges to protect the Amazon. November 8th is the USA’s midterm election day. Black, Hispanic, and young people are concerned about crime at polling stations. South Africa’s new Zulu king, Misuzulu kaZwelithini, has been officially recognised as the head of the country’s influential traditional monarchy by President Ramaphosa saying, ‘You have picked up the mighty spear that fell. May your steady hand bring stability to AmaZulu kingship.’ Pray that the new king and government unite to bring rural areas into prosperity. At the time of writing, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a fringe Palestinian-hating religious far-right extremist, will probably join Benjamin Netanyahu to form a far right coalition that would change the nature of Israel’s political system.
Liz Truss has told Israel’s prime minister, Yair Lapid, she is considering moving Britain’s embassy to Jerusalem. Downing Street said the PM reaffirmed her leadership campaign pledge ‘about her review of the current location of the British embassy in Israel.’ The two met in New York during their visit to the UN General Assembly. Lapid tweeted praise to Truss for considering the move, adding, ‘We will continue to strengthen the partnership between the countries’. 2023 will mark 75 years since the re-establishment of the state of Israel. The recent announcement by the PM could signal a shift in the UK’s foreign policy towards Israel. Britain has embassies in all countries’ capitals except Israel’s. There is a consulate in Jerusalem, but only for Palestinians and not Israelis.
Israel and Turkey have announced the return of full diplomatic ties between the two nations, including the reinstatement of ambassadors and consulate generals. This constitutes an important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for Israelis. Their relationship had deteriorated over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Erdogan has been a harsh critic of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. Turkey has also hosted several Hamas leaders, which further strained relations between the two nations. Many believe Erdogan’s wish to renew these relations is a result of Turkey's economy floundering and his popularity dipping as a result.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is backed by Iran, and its headquarters are in Syria. From 5 to 7 August it fired 600 rockets and mortars into Israel. Israel retaliated with jets, drones, helicopters, tanks, artillery and elite commando units against PIJ military bases, weapon production sites, rocket launching sites, and observation posts. Two PIJ cells were hit, killing twelve operatives and several civilians. Israeli military called this operation Breaking Dawn and said it could last a week. At 11.30 am on 7 August a truce was called. Israel had inflicted significant losses on PIJ in those three days, including killing two senior commanders. By the 11th a further eight individuals with ties to terrorism were arrested in Gaza. PIJ was still insisting on the release of prisoners from Israeli jails, warning that their continued custody was grounds for violence to breakout again.
The International Legal Forum has brought accusations of torture against the Palestinian Authority (PA) before the International Criminal Court, the first request of its kind, ahead of a UN report. They called for it to investigate President Mahmoud Abbas (in his 18th year in office after cancelling numerous scheduled elections) and the PA for ‘rampant, wide-spread and systematic torture’ against Palestinian and Israeli nationals. The forum’s CEO said, ‘The Palestinian Authority is yet to be held accountable under the law for committing such grave crimes as torture.’ Examples include Palestinian human rights activist Nizar Banat, who criticised the PA and died after being beaten in the custody of the security services in 2021. A trial against the officers responsible for his death has not yet concluded. Banat’s family call the trial a ‘farce’. The PA also took two mentally-ill Israelis hostage after they inadvertently crossed into Gaza, and refused to allow the International Red Cross access to them.
Former American UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said in a media interview that she was concerned about a slight drop in support for Israel among American Christians, especially young Christians. She said, 'We have to remind everyone why Israel matters, why America-Israeli alliance is so strong' and why it needs to continue being strong.’ She mentioned the Abraham Accords, a US-negotiated normalisation deal between Israel and a number of Arab countries, as an example of how it could be done. Haley stressed the 2020 agreement was reached primarily ‘because Arab countries need Israel,’ listing intelligence, innovation, and security as areas of possible cooperation with Israel. Haley also commented on Joe Biden’s meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince during his recent Middle East trip saying the Gulf state is an important ally against a common threat from Iran’s thuggery and terrorism. She said America must be ‘tough with Iran and support Israel's stance.’
Joe Biden will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia from 13 to 16 July. The 16th is a Jewish fast day in remembrance of Jerusalem's walls being breached. On that day the president will visit Saudi Arabia where Washington has been brokering talks to transfer a pair of Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, in a deal that would see Riyadh take small steps toward formal diplomatic ties with Jerusalem. It is also believed that Biden’s visit to the Gulf kingdom is to seek an increase in its oil production and coordinate with regional partners on Iran. The president’s schedule of two days in Jerusalem and Bethlehem indicates Washington also aims to solidify the two-pronged ties with Jerusalem while assuring the Palestinians that his administration is still proactively committed to the two-state solution.
Once again there is political tumult in Israel, where the fifth election cycle in three years is about to begin. Crippled by dysfunction and tribalism, Israel has joined the ranks of Italy and Greece, where general elections occur with infuriating frequency. In June 2021 there was a big change when the new government sworn in was not headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, who had held the position for twelve years. A politically diverse coalition was cobbled together by Yair Lapid, leading the centrist Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party. The coalition government, headed by rightwing prime minister Naftali Bennett, was a grouping of eight political parties, including an Arab Islamist party. It began crumbling in recent months after two right-wing lawmakers defected, which meant that the coalition lost its majority. In recent weeks left-wing and Arab coalition members were not backing key legislation. The next coalition will form after October’s polls.