Light for the Last Days

Israel Desk – April 2019

Netanyahu wins election after vow to annex communities in Judea and Samaria.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu won a decisive electoral victory at the polls despite tying with main rival Benny Gantz. While both the ruling Likud Party and challenging Blue and White Party each are scheduled to receive 35 mandates in the 21st Knesset, the results are not nearly as close as the 35-seat figures would indicate. If one adds to this the block of right wing and religious parties who will enter into coalition with Likud, Netanyahu can count on 65 out of the 120 members of the Knesset, which gives him a comfortable majority over the Blue and White Party who can only count on 45 seats.  The remaining 10 seats belong to Arab parties who will not ally to either group.

Three days before the Israeli elections on April 9, Netanyahu, pledged to annex Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, where close to half a million Jews live, which would be a change in government policy. During an interview with Israeli TV Channel 12 he was asked about annexing Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, he said “We’re on the way,” adding that “the next term in office will be fateful.” He also appeared to dismiss the prospect of Palestinian statehood, which would “endanger [Israel’s] existence.”  He said he had communicated to U.S. President Donald Trump that he would not evacuate a “single” Israeli from Judea and Samaria as part of a forthcoming “deal of the century” Mideast peace plan, which Trump is expected to release after the elections.

The top ranks of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are greatly disappointed by the results of the election. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was hoping Netanyahu would be defeated by Benny Gantz, and open up a peace programme with the Palestinians.  Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat expressed this view when the final results of the elections were announced by stating, “The Israelis have voted ‘no to peace’ to preserve the current situation. They have said ‘no to peace and yes to the occupation.’ “

Senior Fatah officials say that the PA is powerless against any intention to annex the settlements and doesn’t have any diplomatic options to prevent it. The Palestinian leadership is under pressure from some Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, to accept Trump’s deal. Abbas announced on April 8 that the PA will reject the deal, refusing to talk to Americans following their recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and embassy move last year. They say the deal is a danger to the Palestinian cause.

Zechariah 12.2-3 – Jerusalem continues to be the ‘burdensome stone burdening all nations.’

Palestinian Authority facing collapse due to funding crisis.

In February Israel withheld the transfer of tax funds to the PA equal to the sum of money that the PA uses to pay terrorists and their families.  Quite a logical move. Why should Israel pay the PA to support terror attacks on its citizens? Most Israelis support this move, saying that the PA must cease encouraging terror against Israel and paying salaries to terrorists.

To protest against this move, the PA has now refused to accept any of its tax revenues, which make up 65% of its budget, a move which many believe could lead to its financial collapse. Quite an illogical move, but one which lines up with the PA’s plan of government, which seems bent on destroying the livelihood of its own people.  This has caused a worsening Palestinian financial crisis and a growing risk “of a financial collapse of the Palestinian Authority” after crippling aid cuts, the UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo has warned. Without the funds, the Palestinian Authority has cut most workers’ salaries in half since March.

The Palestinian Authority had hoped the EU would dig it out of the hole it has created for itself, by supporting its policy of providing merit-based payments to security prisoners.  However the EU Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn told the gathering: “We do not support the system of Palestinian payments to ‘prisoners and martyrs.” Instead, it suggested that a compromise position would be placing the Palestinian prisoners on the social welfare roll, where money would be provided on a needs-based system. The PA rejected the EU proposal.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas then met with head of the Russian Representative Office in Ramallah Aganin Rashidovich and discussed with him the crisis surrounding the deduction of payments to the families of the prisoners and “martyrs.” Abbas demanded that Russia intervene with Israel to halt the deductions, and warned that the PA was facing a sharp financial crisis as a result of the Israeli measure.  It is yet to be seen whether Russia will do anything to help the PA.

Passover events in Jerusalem and expectations of Messiah.

Hundreds of Jews gathered to re-enact the ancient Passover ritual at a site near the Temple Mount.  This included the eating of the Passover lamb, which in the days of the Jewish Temple was brought to Jerusalem as a sacrifice at the time of the Jewish holiday.  Many rabbis criticise the current ritual, saying it must wait until the Temple is rebuilt and re-consecrated. Others, however, counter that the re-enactment is carried out for educational purposes and for instilling the desire to rebuild the Temple, and is not the actual ceremony.

On April 22 around 100,000 Jews took part in a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to receive a priestly blessing from the Kohanim (Jews of priestly descent, mainly with the name Cohen or one of its variations, who served in the Bible’s Temple).  The priestly blessing service involved them covering their heads with tallit (prayer shawls) and chanting with one voice the words of the biblical blessing of Numbers 6, ‘The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His face upon you and grant you peace.’

These religious events in Jerusalem at the time of Passover heighten the hope of many Orthodox Jews that the Temple should be restored and the coming of the Messiah draws near.  They also blind Jewish people to the fact that the real Messiah has already come in the person of Yeshua / Jesus to shed His blood for the remission of sins at the time of the Passover.  He is coming a second time to judge the world in righteousness and bring in the Messianic kingdom on earth reigning from Jerusalem

Israel continues to strike Iranian targets in Syria.

Despite warnings from Russia and threats of retaliation from Iran, Israel has continued to strike Iranian military sites in Syria.  On April 14 three sites in central Syria were hit killing several Iranian militants and their associates and destroying buildings in a centre for upgrading missiles to be aimed at Israel.  

The factory was under the protection of the S-300 missile defence system, the advanced weapon supplied by Russia to make such attacks impossible.  Israel used its new supersonic ‘Rampage’ missile launched from a fighter jet 150 miles away and therefore able to avoid detection from the S-300. It is guided by a GPS system, making it an all-weather day/night long-range air-to-ground assault missile, which is able to make precision attacks hundreds of miles away and destroy targets inside bunkers.

Meanwhile Iran’s military activities and clear public threats to annihilate Israel continue to grow in frequency and intensity. The Deputy Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, said on Iranian TV that Israel is “vulnerable and bringing itself closer to death” and “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map.”   Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that the, “the Zionist regime will perish in the not so far future.”

While many of the world leaders disregard Iran’s evident intentions to destroy Israel, they always seem extremely quick to criticise Israel for defending the safety of its citizens. After Iran’s unprovoked attacks on Israel and its military build-up in Syria were dismissed by the international community, Israel had no choice but to carry out its own strikes against the Iranian military bases and infrastructure that are threatening their country.

Note Iran / Persia part of line up to come against Israel in the last days (Ezekiel 38.5)

Problem for Messianic Jews with Netanyahu government.

In order to form a ruling coalition Benjamin Netanyahu will need the support of the two Orthodox Jewish parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ).  They are likely to make demands which he will have to comply with. Ryan Jones writes in Israel Today:

‘All those Christians and Messianic Jews who were hoping, for example, that Shas wouldn’t again be handed control of the Interior Ministry or that the Rabbinate’s monopoly over marriage in the Holy Land might finally be weakened can forget about it.’  

The Orthodox Jewish parties say Jews who believe in Jesus have denied their Jewish status and cease to be Jews.  Therefore, they do not have the right to emigrate to the State of Israel (though atheist Jews and Jews who practice yoga or eastern religions have no such problem).  They also require all marriages to be conducted through the Orthodox synagogue a right they deny to Messianic Jews. So many Messianic Jews have to go abroad to get married legally.

This issue is going to be the defining one in the days to come, as God brings Israel to the point of turning to Yeshua as the Messiah (Zechariah 12.10) and corrects the mistake Judaism has made in not recognising Him as the Promised One of Bible prophecy (Jeremiah 30.11)

Pope and Moroccan King sign statement on Jerusalem.

In search of peace between Muslims and the Catholic church, Pope Francis signed a statement about Jerusalem with Mohammed VI, King of Morocco. The statement, which uses the Arabic name for Jerusalem, al Quds, minimises the distinctive relationship between Jerusalem and the Jewish people and calls for Jerusalem to become, “the common patrimony of humanity and especially for the followers of the three monotheistic religions, as a place of encounter and as a symbol of peaceful coexistence, where mutual respect and dialogue can be cultivated.”

The Vatican is a strong supporter of the two-state solution and the division of Jerusalem. The Pope calls for Christians and Muslims to see themselves as equally entitled to Jerusalem, saying, “We are all citizens of Jerusalem, all believers,” referring to Muslims and Christians.  Couched in language of peace, harmony and fraternity, the Pope’s call for ‘the universalisation of Jerusalem’, effectively stripping Jerusalem of its uniquely Jewish identity.

Jewish commentator Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman, author of ‘The Ishmaelite Exile’, sees this alliance of Roman Catholic Christians and Muslims as a sign of the End Times. He says “the last stage in the process of Israel’s perfection will be characterised by the alliance between Ishmael and Esau, an alliance aimed at tormenting the entire world and the Jewish people in particular.” The Jewish interpretation sees Ishmael representing Islam and Esau representing Christianity (especially in its Roman Catholic form).  

According to the Bible Jerusalem will be the centre of world events, facing an alliance of opposing forces coming against it.  The true Lord Jesus the Messiah will intervene and bring salvation to the Jewish people and deliverance to Jerusalem at the time of Jacob’s trouble (Zechariah 12-14, Jeremiah 30-31, Ezekiel 36-39).

Ireland passes BDS bill banning Israel settlement goods

Ireland has advanced a bill which will prevent the sale of goods from Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. The bill will ban the purchase of all goods and services from Israel’s West Bank settlements. The bill – officially known as the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill – still needs to pass several more stages before being signed into Irish law, but it is expected to progress given its broad base of support from Irish opposition parties.

Once approved, the law would see fines of up to €250,000 ($284,000) or five years in jail be handed down for those found guilty of importing or selling any goods or services originating in the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem or West Bank settlements, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Though estimates put the value of settlement-made exports to Ireland at between only $580,000 and $1.1 million annually, the symbolic value of the bill and its potential to influence other European countries to follow suit has been hailed as a victory by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative party, said the bill is a “great victory for the BDS movement” and vowed that “we will seek to pass similar laws in a number of European countries in the near future”.

Irish politicians welcomed the move, with Irish Senator Frances Black tweeting: “Ireland will always stand for international law + human rights, & we’re one step closer to making history. Onwards!”  The Irish senate has a long history of extreme anti-Israel activism, supporting the BDS movement and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and positions which are calling for the end of the Jewish state under the slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free.’ (In other words a Palestinian State from the Jordan to the Mediterranean and the end of Israel).  

Israel responded in a statement, from the Prime Minister’s office: “Israel is outraged over the legislation against it in the Dail which is indicative of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism”. “Instead of Ireland condemning Syria for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians, Turkey for the occupation of northern Cyprus and the terrorist organizations for murdering thousands of Israelis, it attacks Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. What a disgrace.”

Meanwhile Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the vote “an expression of pure hostility on the part of its initiators,” adding: “This is a clear expression of obsessive discrimination that should be rejected with disgust.”

Ireland has been a long-time supporter of the BDS movement. In October, Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ announced that it will not sanction any staff members who refuse to travel to Israel for the Eurovision Song Contest, due to be held in Tel Aviv in May. RTÉ’s decision came after the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) called for a boycott of the competition “due to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people”.

Other Irish organisations have also expressed support for BDS, with the Dublin City Council voting in April to back the movement. In March, students at one of the country’s most prestigious universities – Trinity College Dublin – voted to support BDS, meaning the Students Union will support the movement and “comply with the principles of BDS in all union shops, trade, business and other union operations”.

Not good news for Ireland’s welfare.  God promises to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse them, according to Genesis 12.3 ‘I will bless them who bless thee and curse them who curse thee.’

Israel to the Moon: Work on Beresheet 2.0 Has Begun

The Israelis involved in last week’s failed lunar landing said one of their primary goals had been to inspire a new generation of children to get involved in science and space exploration. As such, they stressed to all the students watching the event live the importance of getting back up after falling down.  Putting his money where his mouth is, SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn, the South African-born billionaire who provided much of the funding for the Beresheet project, announced on Israeli TV that “Project Beresheet 2 begins tomorrow. If you fail you need to get up and try again”

Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander came close to successfully executing a soft landing on the moon on 11 April. A sensor failure several kilometres above the moon’s surface resulted in the main engine cutting out, so the craft fell too fast and crashed into the moon. Despite this NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated the Israeli scientists, on the accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit.

Beresheet is the Hebrew title for the Book of Genesis and the first word in the Bible, meaning ‘In the beginning.’  Bereshit / In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Tony Pearce