& THE PALESTINIANS
EL-SHEIK: “SUMMIT OF HOPE”
AFTER four years of bloodshed,
Israeli and Palestinian leaders promised to halt attacks on each other’s
peoples and to renew their commitment to the internationally-backed
roadmap peace plan.
“We are looking forward to
replacing the language of bullets and bombs with the language of good
dialogue,” declared PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli PM Ariel
Sharon concurred: “For the first time in a long time there exists
in our region, hope for a better future for us and our grandchildren.”
At a summit hosted by Egypt on
Feb 8, Sharon and Abbas were joined by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
Speaking after the summit meeting
in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik, Ariel Sharon said Israel is
determined to “seize the opportunity” for peace, and he
asked the Palestinians to prove that they are willing to compromise.
“Israel will fulfill its commitments in the peace process, and
it expects the Palestinians to do the same … deeds, not words,
matter most to Israel.”
Mr Sharon assured the Palestinians
that Israel does not want to rule them, nor does it want to dictate
the Palestinians’ future. Addressing his own people, he again
mentioned the need for compromise: “We need to make some painful
steps, but we should not miss this opportunity to try to fulfill what
we’ve been yearning for ... security, peace and quiet.”
For his part, Mahmoud Abbas made
a widely anticipated declaration: “We have agreed with Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon to cease all acts of violence against the Israelis and
the Palestinians wherever they are,” he said at the end of what
was called a “summit of hope.”
Mr Abbas called for a halt to Israeli
settlement activity and the release of all Palestinian prisoners. He
criticized the security fence, saying it was not conducive to co-existence.
The Palestinian negotiators want
Israel to return to the positions it held prior to the start of the
uprising, when Palestinians were in control of major West Bank cities
and the Palestinian people could move about freely. They say the final
status negotiations should defer to the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as
its capital, and must resolve the refugee issue.
Mahmoud Abbas and Hosni Mubarak
called for Syria and Lebanon to be included in the peace process.
“AGE OF PALESTINIAN EXCUSES HAS ENDED”
THE Palestinian Authority can no
longer make excuses for failing to honour its commitment to eliminate
anti-Jewish terror, says Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
“With Arafat’s demise and the election of Mahmoud Abbas
as his successor, the age of Palestinian excuses has come to an end.
Abbas has at his disposal the means to stop the attacks on Israel’s
civilians and communities. What he needs to show us, and to show his
own people, is that he has the will to use them to bring Palestinian
terror to an end.”
Shalom said Israel was ready to
go to great lengths to make peace and facilitate the well-being of the
Palestinian Arabs, if the PA continues to take constructive steps towards
ending terror. “We accept the Road Map, and we are ready to implement
it, in accordance with its performance-based structure and sequence.”
While constructive, Shalom reiterated
that the Abbas-brokered hudna, or temporary terrorist truce, was in
and of itself an insufficient move. A cease-fire is not the answer.
It is an optical illusion, which will explode in our faces.
In order to prevent the terrorists from undermining the dialogue between
the two sides, Shalom insisted, we must remove them completely from
the equation, and dismantle their ability to strike. There are no shortcuts
in this process. “Israel,” Shalom said, “would not
tolerate a return to the pattern of terror in the morning, funerals
in the afternoon, and negotiations and summits in comfortable hotels
Jerusalem’s willingness to
work with the PA leadership would henceforth be “based on a test
of actions, not of declarations; and of outcomes, not ceremonies.”
“We must remember: Progress
towards peace will not be possible without consistent and effective
Palestinian action on the ground to end the terror against Israel’s
civilians, as required by the Road Map,” Shalom said. -jnewswire.com,
4 Feb 05
MONTHLY PENSION FOR TERRORISTS
7. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has proposed a US $100 monthly
allowance to terrorists who agree to lay down their arms and retire or
find another profession, in a proposal of a pension fund for at least
1000 terrorists. The money would be part of a US $350 million package
deal announced by President George Bush.
TO DERAIL TRUCE”
LEBANESE Hizb’allah guerrillas
are trying to recruit Palestinian militants for attacks on Israelis
in order to sabotage Middle East peace efforts, according to senior
Palestinian officials. Hizb’allah denies the accusation.
A top Palestinian official said,
‘‘We know that Hizb’allah has been trying to recruit
suicide bombers in the name of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, to
wage attacks that would sabotage the truce.” Intercepted e-mail
communications and bank transactions suggested Hizb’allah had
raised its cash offers to militants, but it was unclear whether this
reflected a heightened desire to see violence flare up, or a dearth
‘‘Now they are willing
to pay $100,000 for a whole operation, [suicide bombing]. In the past
they paid $20,000, then they raised it to $50,000,” the official
said. - www.boston.com /15 Feb 05
MILITANTS DISOWN TRUCE
ceasefire agreement at Sharm el-Sheikh between Israel and the PA is
designed to bring the intifada, and four years of violence, to an end.
3000 Palestinians and 1200 Israelis have died during the uprising.
many observers are hoping the new deal will lead to a permanent peace,
expectations are not high. Some are quite pessimistic!
Mahmoud Abbas was popularly elected as President, support for him among
the militant groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP (Popular Front
for the Liberation of Palestine) is extremely weak.
Abbas is reportedly seeking to convince these groups that he can achieve
more through dialogue and negotiation than they can through bombings
and missile attacks.
and Islamic jihad have said they are not bound by the PA-Israel ceasefire.
Both groups were at the forefront of attacks on Israel during the Palestinian
believed he had their compliance, but two days after the ceasefire agreement,
Hamas unleashed 40 mortar shells and two Qassam rockets at Jewish settlements
in the Gaza strip. The Palestinian leadership “reacted furiously,”
with Abbas sacking several security officials for failing to stop the
attacks. Abbas also vowed to take action against any future Palestinian
announced that it would refrain from any military response to the shelling.
But Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz warned: “We will not
consent to a situation in which Qassams and mortars are fired at Israeli
citizens. If the Palestinians won’t fight terror, we will have
to do it. But we still think there is an historic window of opportunity
that we must not let slip by.”
Israel Defence Force views the shelling that was perpetrated primarily
by Hamas, mainly as a challenge to Abbas by that organization. However,
it seems that Hamas is also trying to maintain a “balance of deterrence”
against Israel, in which the organization will respond to every dead
Palestinian with heavy shelling. Hamas itself said that the shelling
was a response to two Palestinians killed the day before.
firing was self-defense against aggression,” it said. “We
did not sign or agree to a cease-fire with anyone, and every violation
by the Zionists will draw a response.”
say that Hamas has not openly rejected the ceasefire, and that it has
agreed to give the truce a chance. But as an observer has pointed out,
“a truce is Hamas’ way of probing the enemy’s intentions.”
THE NEW DEAL IS WORKING OUT
*Mohammed Dahlan, an Abbas adviser
who met with Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, said that in return
for a commitment by wanted militants to abide by a hudna - a truce,
Israel would “stop assassinations and cease chasing them.”
Abbas won a pledge from Islamic
militants to observe a hudna while they consider the ceasefire. In a
major policy shift, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups said they would
not retaliate immediately for any Israeli military action.
Freedom for 8,000 Palestinians
in Israeli jails is a highly emotive issue for Palestinians, who regard
them as heroes of the uprising. “We are insisting that all prisoners
must return to their families. The issue is sensitive and humanitarian,”
Abbas told a news conference.
So far Israel has approved the
release of 900 Palestinian “prisoners without blood on their hands,”
but the Palestinians dismissed this offer as insulting and urged the
formation of a joint committee to coordinate the release of prisoners.
Israel then accepted the proposal for a joint committee to examine the
release of prisoners. The committee will examine the release of prisoners
from three categories: those jailed prior to the signing of the Oslo
Accords in 1993; those jailed between 1993 and the outbreak of the intifada
in September 2000; and female prisoners.
Israel continues to insist that
they will not release “prisoners with blood on their hands,”
or those with direct involvement in terrorist operations against Israelis.
In Feb, 500 Palestinian prisoners
were released in a goodwill gesture to bolster Mahmoud Abbas, and to
build mutual trust. Prior to their release, every one of the prisoners,
which included 380 prisoners and 120 administrative detainees, signed
waivers promising to refrain from any terrorist activities in the future.
Another 400 will be released within three months.
Some 1,000 workers and 500 merchants
have been given permission to cross into Israel and a further 500 laborers
could work at the Erez joint industrial zone.
Israel has reportedly agreed to
withdraw from five West Bank towns quite soon - Jericho, Tulkarm, Qalqilya,
Bethlehem and Ramallah. Jericho was to be the first, but the planned
handover was delayed because of a dispute over the scope of the withdrawal
and security arrangements. The Palestinians want Israel to withdraw
military checkpoints from around the towns. Previously when Israel has
withdrawn from Palestinian population centres, it left them ringed with
checkpoints, severely restricting movement.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has
ratified the death sentences against three Palestinians found guilty
of “collaboration” with Israel. The three have been convicted
of assisting Israel in the assassination of a number of Palestinian
activists in the Gaza Strip over the past four years.
Abbas also approved death sentences
passed against scores of Palestinians found guilty of criminally motivated
murders. At least 51 Palestinians are on death row. Under pressure to
crack down on an upsurge in crime and anarchy in PA-controlled areas,
Abbas instructed the mufti to quickly review the cases of the convicts
so that the executions can be carried out as soon as possible.
Sixteen Palestinians deported
by the Israeli army to the Gaza Strip during the intifada have been
allowed to return to the West Bank. About 55 people were expelled to
Gaza during the uprising, or intifada. A further 39 found refuge in
Europe after being expelled at the end of a month-long siege of the
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002. Israel said 20 of these
could return after Israel transfers control of the city. Bethlehem is
due to pass to full Palestinian control in the next few weeks.
The defence ministry declared
an end to the policy of demolishing Palestinian suicide bombers’
houses. According to Ha’aretz, 270 punitive demolitions were carried
out. The decision came after an army internal review concluded that
demolitions as a form of deterrent only increased Palestinian hatred
and hostility towards Israel.
The moves are part of a package
of measures agreed to in early Feb, aimed at restarting the peace process.
For their part, Palestinian authorities
are seeking to restrain militant groups from attacking Israel.
It is clear that just about every
step forward is going to be hotly contested. And the threat of the whole
deal will be constantly in danger of breaking down altogether.
TURNS STREET SIGNS INTO KASSAMS
FEB 14. After announcing it would
agree to a hudna - a cease-fire, Hamas is using the lull in Israel’s
offensive actions to stock up on Kassam rockets, mines, and mortar shells
in the Gaza Strip.
Kassam rocket makers have begun
stealing and using street sign pipes because of a lack of raw materials.
Apparently street signs are becoming rare in Gaza.
The sources told the Jerusalem
Post that Hamas are working at a heightened pace to produce more weaponry
in order to be better prepared for future hostilities if and when the
de facto cease-fire breaks down and they are again targeted by the IDF
(Israel Defence Force).
They are also continuing to operate
their smuggling rings during this period to bring in weapons and other
A spirit of lawlessness pervades
Gaza and other Palestinian areas. Terror cells, gangs, and criminals
operate freely. Pray that the Palestinian Authority and the new Prime
Minister, Mahmoud Abbas, will begin to encourage lawful behaviour. Pray
that God will protect the people of Israel from terror attacks.
GOAL IS ISRAEL’S DESTRUCTION
THE Palestinian Authority, in its
Arabic messages to its people, has always denied Israel’s right
to exist, and has often presented the peace process as a tactic leading
to Israel’s destruction.
This goal was repeated on Friday,
4 Feb, in the official sermon on the Palestinian Authority television.
Senior religious figure, Ibrahim Mudyris, explained that the limitation
of the diplomatic process is that it can only achieve the 1967 borders,
and that at a later stage, the Palestinian Authority will achieve its
This man is not an isolated thinker.
His words reflect the deep heartfelt conviction of many Palestinians.
OKs SURRENDER OF
GAZA & NORTH SAMARIA
FEB 16. Israel’s Knesset
has decided to relinquish control over the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria
to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s
Expulsion Compensation Bill, passed by a vote of 59-40, grants official
legislative approval for the Sharon government to uproot the Jewish
residents of Gaza and Northern Samaria.
The Disengagement from Gaza and
N Samaria was a unilateral decision of the Israeli government, and although
fragile, the hopes for peace are presently seen as encouraging. Most
observers, however, understand that the surrender of Gaza and northern
Samaria will take place in the absence of peace, and that it will happen
as a direct result of relentless Arab aggression. Hamas and other Palestinian
terror groups have already said they view the planned pullout as a victory
for their campaign of terror against Israel’s Jews.
Amendments calling for a national referendum on the pullout were soundly
FEB 20. The Israeli cabinet approved
the implementation of the Gaza and N Samaria pullout, and the government
will send letters by the end of Feb to the 9000 settlers affected, informing
them they will have to evacuate their homes from July.
The Bible records the covenant
of Yahweh giving sovereignty over what is today Israel - Judea, Samaria,
Galilee, the Negev, and the Gaza Strip to the descendents of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob. The book of Joshua notes that Gaza was to be included
in the land allotted to the Tribe of Judah. (Joshua 15:2-4)
At present, tragically, the Israeli
government is not taking decisions in line with the Scriptures - for
the simple reason that the great majority of Israel, including many
of its leaders, are still in unbelief.
AND THE PALESTINIAN STATE
LAST December President George
W Bush predicted that he would bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians
during his second term in office. “I want you to know that I am
going to invest a lot of time and a lot of creative thinking so that
there will finally be peace between Israel and the Palestinians,”
he told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth. “I am convinced
that, during this term, I will manage to bring peace.”
The new Secretary of State, Condoleezza
Rice, has made it clear, “There will be a Palestinian state.”
The Quartet also, guided by rationalism, are pushing Israel into granting
a Palestinian state.
Ariel Sharon has evidently decided
that a Palestinian state is inevitable, and that by taking the withdrawal
initiative, with American concurrence, he will get the best deal for
Israel and will be able to annex the majority of the West Bank settlements
into Israel proper. The hope of Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres is that,
allied with a moderate, peace-desiring PA regime, Israel will be able
to contain or eliminate the radical Palestinian groups.
The “valiant efforts”
of Mahmoud Abbas to secure a “hudna” – a “cease-fire”
commitment from the radical Palestinian groups have been applauded,
and wishful thinkers are convinced the violence will wind down as the
militants realize their goal of a Palestinian state.
Realists, however, point out that
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and PFLP are radical organizations that have sworn
they will never have a permanent peace with Israel. To them, “hudna”
never means a permanent peace. It is a tactical interlude in a long-term
strategy to fulfil their goal - the ultimate annihilation of the state
of Israel. Hudna gives the Palestinians the chance to rearm for the
next stage of jihad.
All Israel is acutely aware that
once the Palestinians have a state, they can bring all manner of weapons
and trained militants into the very heart of Israel.
After it has been forced into indefensible borders, its very existence
will be threatened by Palestine, Syria, Iran, Egypt and Iraq. Israel
will have only one ultimate military option – nuclear weapons.
ARIEL Sharon, undoubtedly, has
his plans as to how to deal with future Palestinian attacks once a separate
state is established. I expect, that attacks from Pales-tine being no
longer an uprising of an occupied people, but warfare waged by an independent
hostile nation, that Israel would deal with it as such. A short, powerful
decisive war (such as the 6-day war) would be preferred to an endless
From a Biblical, prophetic perspective,
we know a permanent peace between Israel and Palestine is a “pipe
dream.” The Scriptures tell us much of what is ahead:
“For I will gather all the
nations against Jerusalem to fight against it, declares YHWH, and the
city will be captured, the houses plundered, and the women raped. Half
of the city will go into captivity, but the rest of the people will
not be exiled from the city.” (Zechariah 14:2)
“Look!” declares YHWH,
“I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all
the people around. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. And
on that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against
her, I will make Jerusalem a very heavy rock for all the nations. All
who try to move it will be severely injured.” (Zechariah 12:2-3)
“A king will arise, insolent
and skilled in intrigue. He (Antichrist) will become very strong, but
not by his own power. He will destroy to an extraordinary degree.”
“The people of the (endtime
Roman) ruler (Antichrist) who is to come will destroy the city (Jerusalem)
and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood. To the end there
will be war, and desolations have been decreed.” (Daniel 9:26)
The Day of YHWH is drawing nearer
every day – the Great and Awesome Day of the LORD – the
Great Tribulation - the Day of Jacob’s Trouble of which the prophets
have foretold. Zechariah says:
“In the whole land, declares
YHWH, two thirds will be struck down and perish; but one third will
be left in it. And I will bring this third through the fire, refine
them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will
call on My Name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are
My people,’ and they will say, ‘YHWH is my God’.”
It is only after the seven years
of purging that God’s promise of millennial blessing will be fulfilled:
“I will also plant them on
their own land, and they will never again be uprooted from their land
which I have given them, says YHWH your God.” (Amos 9:15)
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The One who is coming will come, He
will not delay