Annexation and the Return of the Zealot Party

Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it is near certain that Israel will annex 30% of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) including the Jordan Valley.  This is in line with the Trump peace plan.  What is so important is the realism of the Trump plan.  I have noted this in past posts but will repeat.  Before the Oslo peace plan, both liberal and conservative governments in Israel supported creating towns in the disputed territories.  The main reason was to have more territory controlled by Israel so that Israel’s strategic depth for defense was increased. Yes, the right-wing with P. M. Begin hoped to see a permanent annexation of the territories, but that was not pursued and was politically not feasible.  The hope was that the Palestinian areas could be ceded to Jordan or that the Arab residents could be residents in Israel but citizens in Jordan.   

With the Oslo peace plan and the idea of a two-state solution being revived (this was the original U. N. plan from 1947) the issue became how to draw the border.  Israel’s government, during the time of the hopes of the Oslo plan, was seeking to cede most of the territories for a Palestinian State. In the P. M. Olmert plan, the Palestinian’s would be given 95% of the territories in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Israel 5% to preserve the larger settlements.  When the Palestinians walked away from this plan, the left as a power in Israeli politics was destroyed.  This is why today we have a large rightwing group of parties, and a centrist group of parties but no significant left-wing power (despite Bibi calling the center parties left-wing!)   

The Trump plan still holds out hope for a Palestinian State on the 70% of the land plus Gaza.  However, if the Palestinians will not come to negotiate, President Trump has made it known that Israel can then go ahead and annex these territories as long as Israel coordinates mapping with the White House.  Bibi is very thankful to President Trump and the President is popular in Israel.  He has recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and moved the embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.  His peace plan is the only realistic one.  Why? Because the other plans require removing some of the towns of the territories.  There are over 400,000 Israelis in these towns.  Any government that sought to remove even part of them would face stiff resistance, bloodshed, and even civil war!  Trump’s plan does not require removing any of the settlements.  A Palestinian state is still very unlikely, and quietly some really hope for a return to the Jordanian citizenship idea in the years ahead so as to avoid a Palestinian state and a claim of apartheid. This declaration of annexation, probably in July or August, will probably lead to much world rejection and maybe a new Palestinian uprising (intifada).  It may threaten the peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt.  It would also risk relationships that were growing with other Arab nations.  However, Bibi sees this as a once in a lifetime opportunity with Trump as President, and he will take the risk.  He has the votes to do it.

However, the leader of the settlement council and the Jordan Valley communities, David Elhaynai, seeks to thwart the plan for two reasons.  First, he and his followers will not countenance the idea of a Palestinian state at all.  They want all the territory without full rights for the Palestinians (not by the choice of the Palestinians but by Israel’s fiat).  They do not want to even say they accept the Trump plan in theory.  Bibi wants the loss of a Palestinian state to be blamed on the Palestinians. He, therefore, accepts the Trump plan.  He is a realist and politically very savvy. Secondly, Elhaynai is upset that 15 small settlements, some of which were illegal but have been since legalized, will not be in contiguous connection to the new Israeli 30% territory.  For this, he also rejects the plan.  Why would he be so extreme and zealous?  It is hard to know. He is not part of the super right-wing religious though he has to represent them as part of his constituency.  These latter folks believe that taking all the Land is a Messianic mandate that precedes the coming of the Messiah.  Whatever his reasons, he has to represent them and is himself a maximalist for other reasons.  My concern in all of this is that these zealots are of the same spirit that Yeshua warned about and noted that their direction would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem.   He said if only they had known the way for peace.   We cannot say that Israel today, mostly not committed to Biblical standards and faith, would have the favor of God to reenact the conquering of Joshua.  There is no prophetic voice of leadership for this.  We cannot hope for or depend on God’s favor for such radical recommendations.  We are not a righteous nation though comparatively more righteous than many.  This settler leader has even lambasted Trump as not a friend of Israel.  He has drawn the rebuke of Bibi for this and rightly so.  I believe that this is the same spirit as the radical zealots of the first century, and they must not be allowed to scuttle the progress that has been made due to President Trump.  A way for the Palestinians to find justice while Israel realistically can claim the territory of the settlements is the realistic way forward.  Netanyahu is taking a terrible risk. I hope it works out.  But the settlers are asking him to go beyond risk toward a probable disaster. 

 

Sinai and Zion, Covenant, Spirit, and Torah

The day of Shavuot or Pentecost on the Jewish calendar is the date for the celebration of the giving of the Torah, the covenant of the ten words, or the ten commandments.  The Jewish calculation that this is the date is reasonable.  Often, however, people do not notice that the phenomenon of the Sinai events has very close parallels to the events that took place in Acts 2 on the day of Shavuot/Pentecost.  Sinai is actually a foreshadowing of the events of Pentecost/Shavuot.  Note the words of the text in Exodus 19:16.  

On the third day, there was thundering and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain, and the blast of an exceedingly loud shofar. . . then in v. 18, “Now the entire Mount Sinai was in smoke, because ADONAI had descended upon it in fire.  The smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace.  . . . When the sound of the shofar grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him with a thunderous sound.  V. 18, All the people witnessed the thundering and the lightning, and the sound of the shofar and the mountain smoking.  When the people saw it, they trembled . . . 

How do we picture the event on Mt. Zion in the Temple.  The notes in the NIV and my own reading is that the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 on the Temple Mount in the Portico of Solomon.   Were the tongues of fire small little tongues?  Or were they enveloped in glory?  Were the disciples quietly speaking in Tongues almost in a whisper or shouting out (declaring) with a noise that was awesome?  Why else would the thousands have gathered to where they were.   Then they heard the voice of God in the tongues of the people just as the voice of God was heard by the people at Mt. Sinai.  They were declaring, I believe,  in loud voices.  The wind itself was mighty and probably heard way beyond the 120.  

Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And tongues like fire spreading out appeared to them and settled on each one of them.  Thy were all filled with the Ruach ha Kodesh and began  to speak in other tongues as the Ruach enabled them to speak out . . . And when this sound came, the crowd gathered.   They were bewildered, because each was hearing them speaking in his own language.  And they were amazed and astonished  . . . we hear them declaring in our own tongues the mighty deeds of God.  

There are amazing parallels in both events.  Bible students and scholars have noted the parallels.  They were both public dramatic miraculous events.  Both are on mountains.  Mt. Sinai was a temple of God’s presence as was the Temple in Jerusalem that was its successor. 

The days of Moses were not bereft of the Spirit.  Moses had the Spirit and the Spirit came upon the 70 elders who prophesied Numbers 11:24-26.   Moses seemed to anticipate the New Covenant and said, “If only Adonai would make all the people prophets.”

The Spirit is certainly important in the Mosaic period, but the Torah, the Word, the commandment is much more emphasized.  Due to the failure of the nation, the prophets predicted a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31ff, Ezekiel 36:24ff) where the Spirit in us would move us to obey God’s word.  The New Covenant brings the Age of the Spirit where the two mountains come together, the Torah of God-given on Sinai and the Spirit of God given on Mt. Zion.  The giving of the Spirit establishes a better covenant (Heb. 8:7-12).  The better covenant empowers through our dying and rising with Yeshua (Romans 6) and being filled with the Spirit.  Romans 8:4 summarizes, “So that the requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Ruach.”  

In the Mosaic order, the Word of Torah is the larger emphasis, in the New Covenant the power of the Spirit is the larger emphasis.  The giving of the Spirit in power brings a great harvest.  It did in the first century and onward and from every great revival a harvest was gained.   

The words of Joel 2:28 ff and Acts 2 show us that that outpouring was not the final fulfillment of Joel 2.  It was, as with the Kingdom having come, in an “already not yet” way.  Why?  Because these texts still envision a greater final outpouring that would lead to the final harvesting and the second coming of Yeshua.  This was understood by Puritans and Lutheran Pietists hundreds of years ago and was also the hope of the Pentecostals in their beginnings.  It is hard to miss this:  The underlines that follow note the parts of the text that show that the great fulfillment of Joel 2 is also not yet and still to be greater than anything that has yet been seen. 

And it shall be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Ruach on all flesh.   Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall dream dreams.  Even on My slaves, male and female, I will pour out my Ruach in those days, and they shall prophesy.  

And I will give wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, fire, and smoky vapor.  The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious Day of ADONAI.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of ADONAI shall be saved. 

All flesh anticipates something more than the few thousand who experienced the Spirit at that time.  The events of Joel 2 are to occur just before the final mighty Day of the Lord.  This is the Day when God intervenes in final deliverance for his people but judgment on the wicked who will not repent.  The phenomena of signs in the heaven, the sun, and the moon were not yet fulfilled.  Yes, the first century was a day of the Lord but not the Day of the Lord.  The final outpouring leads to a mass harvest so that whoever calls on the name of the ADONAI shall be saved.   The images here of the smoke and fire are also Sinai images.  

We see an amazing aspect of this end-time revival and outpouring of the Spirit in Isaiah 4:2-6.  It is an astonishing passage.  

In that day the Branch of ADONAI will be beautiful and glorious . . . whoever is left in Zion and whoever remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.  

After ADOANI has washed away the filth of the Daughters of Zion and has purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then  ADONAI will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her convocations, a cloud by day and smoke and shining of a flaming fire by night.  For over all, glory will be a canopy.

Note the days of Moses images but also the greater promise of the ultimate presence of the ADONAI in Jerusalem.  This day will come when Jerusalem calls on the name of Yeshua.  

We, therefore, seek a mighty Shavuot/Pentecost worldwide, in Israel and Jerusalem but until that day we can see revivals that are local and regional.  The Disciples were mightily filled a second time in Acts 4:29-31, and Peter’s prayer needs to be ours.

And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant Your servants to speak your word with utmost courage—while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy Servant Yeshua.  

And when they had prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. And they were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to speak the word of God with boldness.   

 

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dock

The trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) for bribery, fraud and breach of trust has begun.  There are three cases against him and not all are of equal weight.  It is not important for our readers to know the details.  If you want to know the details, you can find it easily on the internet through an internet search/  There are numerous detailed articles describing the charges and the evidence.

I think that there are a few important things to understand that can inform your prayer.  Bibi and part of his rightwing party (Likud) members are engaging in a propaganda campaign to discredit the investigators and the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, who brought the charges.  They claim that this is a campaign of the left to remove the right-wing government.  They also are on a campaign to discredit the court as an activist court and to also discredit the Supreme Court.  I believe this is very dangerous.  Yes, as in the United States, the Court here has been too activist at times, but this is a criminal trial not a matter of activist legal interpretations.  The campaign to discredit the Court by Netanyahu’s closest allies in Likud is wrong and again dangerous to the country.  Not all Likud members are in on this campaign.  Several higher-ups in Likud have perceived themselves to have been betrayed by Bibi and remain quiet.   One other matter is disturbing.  They brought up a case from 10 years ago where the Attorney General was investigated to find if he covered up a case for General Gabi Ashkenazi who is now the Foreign Minister in the Unity Government and part of Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party.  This was dismissed a decade ago. 

Bibi is innocent until proven guilty, but it does not look good for him, though I hope he would be found innocent.  I have evaluated Bibi in the past in my postings.  He has done some really great things and not so great things!  One key thing to keep in mind is to understand who Avichai Mandelblit is.  He is a conservative Attorney General that was appointed by Bibi!  If one was following the investigation and the prosecutors, it seemed as if Mandelblit was doing everything possible to not indict Bibi.  He was an ally of Bibi.  However, the force of the evidence was so great to him that he could not avoid it.  History would record the evidence and if he did not go forward, he would forever be remembered by history as a compromised political hack.  So now Bibi seeks to discredit his own pick for the Attorney General, his former ally. Again, I hope Bibi is innocent and found innocent, but the evidence, even as reported in the conservative Zionist press, is that he is guilty.  (not in the Bibi newspaper Yisrael Hayom

One sad thing about the complexity of legal processes here is that this could all take form 18 months to 3 years to finalize.  There could be appeals to make it even a longer time.

Photo credit: Haim Zach (GPO)

Can we Figure out what Prime Minister Netanyahu Desires for Peace?

Two of the most important things to note about the new unity government in Israel is that Blue and White under Benny Gantz will not prevent Prime Minister Netanyahu (Bibi) from annexing the settlements (cities and towns) in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Jordan Valley.  This will probably happen with the acceptance of the Trump administration.  The world will scream, and will not recognize it, but Israel will not turn back.   The U. S. will recognize it with a few other countries. 

The second thing to note is that Yamina under Naftali Bennet, the rightwing religious party, is not in the government with Bibi.  Bibi could have offered them a greater role, but I think he intentionally did not, though he professed to want them in the government.  Bibi is one of the most amazing political manipulators ever.  I think he really did not want them in the government.  Bennet’s past behavior greatly irritated Bibi since he would publicly criticize Bibi though in his cabinet.  Imagine a cabinet minister in President Trump’s government publicly criticizing him or the cabinet ministers in the times of former presidents.  Yes, it is a coalition of parties in Israel, but in most Parliamentary coalition governments, once the government is formed such public criticism ends.  And what was his critique?  It was usually that Bibi was not moving forward to annex the territories or that he was too weak on defense issues. 

These two facts now give Bibi flexibility and maybe revealing his end game with the Palestinians.  If Bennet is in the government, he will push Bibi to reject a Palestinian state. Bibi does not want to do this, at least not publicly. If there is no such state Bibi wants the Palestinians to be blamed for not attaining one. Yesterday at the time of this writing, the Settlers voted to reject Donald Trump’s Peace Plan because if gives the Palestinians 70% of the West Bank and Gaza for a state.  Bibi has said he fully accepts the Trump plan. He prefers to not have Bennet in the government making public criticism from his right flank.  

There are three plans that now are possible.  The old plan for a Palestinian state with the ’67 ceasefire lines as the border is not one of the possibilities that anyone can now be considered.  The first Is the Carolyn Glick One State Solution which is the name of her book.  In this solution the Palestinians living in the West Bank (not Gaza-which would be released to be on its own or part of Egypt) are given full citizenship in Israel.  Glick is a contrarian with regard to her views on population trends.  She thinks that the Palestinians would never then be more than 1/3 of the population.  It does not appear that Bibi has accepted this view.  He thinks, I believe, that absorbing so many Palestinians would be dangerous. 

Then there is the Bennet plan which is to eventually, but in stages, annex the whole West Bank and give the Palestinians some level of residency and autonomy but not citizenship. Some go father and want to pay the Palestinians to move away.  The world will call this apartheid.  Bibi is too smart for this solution since this would lead to world rejection and boycotts.  It would end progress with the Arab world.  Some think the Palestinians could have residency in Israel but citizenship in Jordan.  Jordan is not interested.  Boogie Yaalon wanted to see no change but to just live in the status quo until there is a change of heart.  This direction would also be seen as apartheid. 

The third option is the Trump plan.  It is the plan of realism.  It gives Israel the boarders and territory they need to make their state larger and more defensible.  However, it also provides a Palestinian state and solves the problem of the challenge of absorbing the Palestinians as citizens.  Israel cannot be said to be apartheid since the Palestinians can have their own state.  Indeed, if they declare a state and are recognized by the world, then there is a border dispute not a dispute on apartheid.  Bibi wants to move fast and gain the Jordan Valley and that 30% of the West Bank.  My view is that Bibi really does embrace the Trump plan and would accept a Palestinian State under the Trump terms which are the terms of realism.  But with the Palestinians rejecting this, Bibi can blame them for not having their own state.  He can live with the status quo on no Palestinian State and just say it is up to them. 

The present unity government is the best opportunity Bibi could imagine for doing what he wants to do.  If he does annex, the Yamina people in the Parliament will vote for the annexation.  They will not vote for a Palestinians State, but that will not be up for a vote this summer!

 

Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO

Corona Virus Update

I have read countless articles and listened to many newscasts.  I think we now can draw some pretty sound conclusions.

  1.  It has been well established that the problem with COVID 19 is overwhelmingly an attack on the old and those with co-morbidities.   The statistics are stunning.  It is from 90-96%.
  2. We did not know this in the beginning.  We should not be harsh in judgment on those who shut down the economy since the information they had was limited. If the virus was more lethal to younger and healthier people we could have been looking at millions of deaths.  Leaders had to act on that possibility.
  3. Now that we know the truth, the key is to isolate the vulnerable and to allow the healthy to work.  The isolation of the vulnerable can be loosened in areas where there is little to no virus cases, which is many places. For example, there is no virus in our town in Israel.  All ages can go to the gym and not wear masks.  No out of towners are allowed in the gym.
  4. The Florida model of protecting the old and those with co-morbidities with great effort and intensity but opening up the rest of the economy is the model for the future.
  5. Randomized testing sufficient to show where the virus is not a problem will be a key to greater loosening for the vulnerable.

I am losing patience for the vitriol in attacks. Those who want to work are called selfish when if they have no salary they cannot eat.  Losing a job is an existential threat and destroying the economy has the potential to lead to many deaths.  I am tired of credible minority views among scientists eliciting vilification and dismissal.  I am also tired of news people who believe in the prevailing view being vilified by news people who are convinced by the minority.  Where is the place of healthy debate?  That is how science progresses.

I am a bit puzzled by the idea of a vaccine being the ultimate answer. I am not on the anti-vaccine side.  I do my annual flu shot.  However, I know that the shot is only 40-50% effective.  I think we have to look at other treatments.  Today in the Israeli press there were reports of three anti-body anti-viral drugs that may be close to a cure.  Three companies are developing these.  One is Pluristan Therapeutics in Haifa.  The second is Israel Biological Research Institute. The last is Sorento Therapeutics in California.  These drugs sound like potential game-changers. They prevent the virus from taking hold in the body.  Let’s hope so.

Let’s be thankful that in most countries the curve is now been flattened and is going dow.

The debate on hydroxychloroquine continues.  Detractors say that it has been tried and does not show good results.  The proponents say that the studies are invalid since it has to be given in high doses early in the infection.  There are dramatic stories of turn arounds, anecdotal evidence.  We still await a study where all can agree that the parameters were solid.  Why is this so hard to accomplish?  Some thin, It is the drug companies and their profit motive.  Let’s hope not.

A New Israeli Government

Finally, at 1:00 P.M. Israel time a new Israeli government was formed. I need not say much about it since I have before written on what was going to happen after there was a unity government agreement.  Things have pretty much worked out as noted before.

However, I wanted to state a few things.

The new government has 36 portfolios and is super bloated.  However, it was the only way to get everyone on board.  Benjamin Netanyahu promised Blue and White an equal number of portfolios to Likud even though their joining in the unity government lost then some 14 members of their Parliament block.  This was the price of getting them to join with Likud.  Now however there are two major issues.  Several members of Netanyahu’s party, Likud, are very angry.  Though they are higher on the list of those elected, they are not getting portfolios in the new government.  It seems like Bibi picked those more loyal to him than those higher on the list.  My guess is that this will diminish is support in the future and in his upcoming trial.  Bibi has made many enemies of past allies.  I would think that a new Likud leader could very well be chosen in the next election.

Secondly, Bibi’s trial begins May 24, for fraud and more. If he is found guilty, his leadership of Israel is over. This could take one to three years. For Israel’s sake they should speed this up and either convict him or clear him.

Thridly, the prospects for the annexation of 30% of the land in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) including the settlements and the Jordan valley look very probable now.  Amazing!

Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

ISRAEL TODAY: May, 13, 2010

I thought I should send you an update on Israel today. By now most of you know that a unity government will form tomorrow.  It will have 72 out of 120 parliament seats.  Amazingly, it looks like the right-wing religious Zionist party, Yamina, under Naftali Bennet, will not join the government.  They claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu simply is not offering them significant portfolios.  They are angry.  However, to accommodate all the parties that are joining, Netanyahu will increase the number of cabinet / portfolio positions to 36.  17 is the usual and recommended number.   It is sad to see that this has to happen.  

 

However, it gives two opportunities.  One is for Bibi to annex the settlements of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the Jordan Valley.  Secretary of State Pompeo of the United States is in Israel today to discuss the Trump peace plan and annexation.  Some European leaders are apoplectic about this possibility.  

 

I hope that this government can address social issues, housing, the cost of living, and equal justice in services for Arab Israeli citizens.  On having the ultra-Orthodox work and be productive citizens economically we will still have to wait.  They are too powerful.  For justice on citizenship issues for Messianic Jews and status for Russian Jews, we will also have to wait. 

 

On another front, Israel’s progress in the Corona Virus is stunning.  We are down to 4,104 cases and only 54 intubated.  Israel is opening up the economy.  The biggest problem is El Al which looks to go out of business without massive government support (this is in the balance).  I love flying El Al and dearly hope this does not happen.  Secondly, tourism is a huge economic engine here and it is dead right now.  I hope it comes back in the late summer and early fall.

 

The Messianic Jewish community seems to be stronger for the whole trial. Internet services have been amazing throughout the Land. 

Israel’s Most Unusual Independence Day

In years passed, we have been amazed and greatly moved by Israel Independence celebrations.  The great show in the evening in Jerusalem is full of processionals, pageantry, children’s choirs, youth presentations, speeches, poetry, and more.  In the side streets and main avenues, the Israeli flags are everywhere.  Cars are decked with flags.  People celebrate by hitting one another on the head with the soft blow of specially made plastic hammers, which we first experienced on our tour in May 1979.  

 

One of the strange aspects of the Israeli calendar is that Israel’s Memorial Day is only the day before the celebration.  (In the United States it is separated by more than a month.) Memorial Day is a somber day of gatherings, at cemeteries and the main military burial ground at Mt. Herzl, equivalent to Arlington Cemetery across from Potomac River in Washington, D. C.   This produces an almost whiplash emotional effect where grief and morning for the many who have died in Israel’s wars is for some too soon followed by the joy of celebration.   

 

This year, the observances will be like no other.  The government has ordered greater restrictions than those we are normally following due to the virus plague, even requiring staying at home.  This was also done at Passover.  Why? The government fears that without greater restriction there will be too many who are not self-controlled and will gather in unsafe ways.  The day after on Thursday we are told we will be less restricted.  More stores will be open and the 500-meter rule for exercise will be lifted.  This year, there will be no gatherings for memorials and no great celebration in the stadium.  Instead, we will see online presentations that will not have near the effect.  It will be the most strange and somewhat sad situation whereby we are cheated out of this most important time, both our unity in national mourning and the joy of in-person celebrations on the next day.  Like America, barbeques in the park are amazing here but will not take place this year.   

 

However, let us recall the amazing events of these days.  The Greatest Generation in Israel is not just the one from World War Two times or in Israel’s case the War of Independence.  In a sense, the great level of greatness has to be maintained in war after war and the willing sacrifice in the years since independence has been characteristic. 

 

There is no story in History that compares with the story of modern Israel. The beginnings are from a modest movement with settlements in the 19th Century.  Then there was an endorsement of the idea that this ancient Land is the home of the Jewish.  This was first in the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and then in the San Remo Conference of the League of Nations in 1920 that called for Jewish self-determination in our ancient Land.  Our numbers in the Holy Land continued to grow.  This continued in spite of the change of British policy from the mid-1920s to the 1940s (Pharaohs who did not know Joseph came into power).   Our people in the Land were swelled by survivors from the Holocaust the terrible devastation beyond words.  

 

The United Nations partition plan gave Israel a very small territory for the Jewish State, but Israel accepted it this partition.   She had to then defend herself against five Arab Armies and somehow win the 1948 War of Independence.  Israel controlled more territory by the armistice lines.  This was most amazing.  Holocaust survivors fought side by side with those who had been here before the Holocaust and grew up in the Land.  This was our greatest generation, but not the only great one. 

 

Then came the ‘67 War.  Israel again defended herself and gained more territorial control, the Old City of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Sinai.  Then came the ‘73 War which was perilous. Again Israel won.  Many lives were lost in these wars. Then many smaller wars came; Lebanon twice and then Gaza.  Then came terrorist battles, the Intifada, and withstanding terror attacks.  Somehow Israel thrives.  The response to this amazing history is not a point of universal agreement.  Here are the basic responses to this history. 

 

  1. For Messianic Jews, the return to the Land and Israel’s self-government is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and preparation for Israel coming to repentance and embracing Yeshua as King and Lord. (Ezek. 36:24 ff.) Messianic Jews are patriotic, join the Army, and fight for Israel, but know that we do not receive the fullness of the promises for Israel including her full borders and more until the Messiah comes.
  2. For Nationalist Zionist Orthodox Jews, the return to the Land and Israel’s independence is also a fulfillment of prophecy that prepares the way for the coming of the Messiah.  However, these Orthodox reject the idea of a Palestinian state on any part of the territory from the Jordan Valley through the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and seek Israeli sovereignty for all of the territory.  This battle is fought in Israel today.  The  Trump peace plan to give 70% of the West Bank and Gaza for a Palestinian State is rejected by these nationalists.  However, Benjamin Netanyahu will accept this peace plan with the certainty that the Palestinians do not really want peace and a two-state solution and will reject it.
  3. For the Ultra-Orthodox, some are positive toward Israel, but the majority believe that Israel’s independence is a mistake. Israel should not be self-ruled until the Messiah comes. Zionism that fosters self-determination in our own state delays the coming of the Messiah.  It is a “good deed” mitzvah) to live in the Land but not to have self-determination.  
  4. Finally, for the great majority of Israelis, secular or traditional but not Orthodox, Israel is an amazing story and they are patriotic and very committed to the nation.  

 

All of these responses are brought to the fore every Independence Day, but the great dominant thrust is one of grand celebration.  This year, we forego the celebration but will stand amazed.  The story of how the Americans gained their independence from Britain is a grand and amazing story.  The Israel story is more amazing by far. 

Unity Government Forms!

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi)and Benny Gantz signed an agreement just two hours ago as of this writing to form a unity government.  Finally, Israel will have a functioning government.  To form this government, compromises and even some unhelpful directions were taken, but at this point, I believe it is an answer to prayer and may be the best that is now possible.  Bibi will be Prime Minister for the first 18 months and then Gantz for the second 18 months.

For those who think that Gantz caved, the prospects for the opposition in another election do not look good, and this might have been his best chance to bring some positive change.  If the Supreme Court rules that an indicted person cannot be the Prime Minister, then there will be elections.  I do not think it is likely that the Court will do this since Israel’s Basic Law does not speak on this subject.  It does say that cabinet members who lead cabinet level government divisions do have to resign if indicted.  The right will control the judicial appointments committee, but in my view not by so much.  A former Blue and White Party member is the majority tipping vote for the right and the committee will generally seek agreement.  However, there will be no legislation to lessen the power of the Supreme Court.  Bibi will still have to face a trial.  I have not read anything that says what will happen if he is convicted, but I would think it would mean that Likud would elect someone else to serve out his term.  I don’t think there would then be the votes to dissolve the government. The trial could take a long time.

In this agreement, if the Palestinians do not come to the negotiation table, Bibi will have the opportunity to annex the towns in Judea and Samaria, to make them part of Israel.  The European Union will scream and shout to no avail.  The Security Council of the U. N. will seek to condemn Israel, but the United States will veto any condemnation.  I see this as a primary reason why Bibi is still in power and a key reason as to why Trump is in power.  These towns (some are small cities) should not be up for negotiation as if their populations can be transferred. This is why the Trump plan is a plan of realism. The Palestinians have never dealt with matters in a realistic way.  Most of the world is wildly unrealistic as well.

The government will have 36 cabinet members, totally bloated and costly. It is the price of all being on board.  The Ultra-Orthodox Shas Party will probably keep the Interior Department. This is the saddest part of this.  However, Ultra-Orthodox in general would lose their extortion power since their threat to leave the government would not bring down the government.  It is possible that that in the approval of budgets that there will be an incentive for more men to work since Israel cannot afford their demands for welfare so men can study Talmud and Rabbinic arguments all day.

This is not all I desire, but it is a step in the right direction.  Gantz’s former partners say he caved, but he looked at the situation in Israel realistically.  That situation included that of the percentages of the Jewish vote in the Land. Bibi and his right wing parties have 59 votes out of 120 in the Knesset, and the Jewish parties that were in opposition only included 46.  The Arab Party had 15.  Therefore, I think Gantz made a hard but correct choice.  The opposition might still empower Gantz for key issues.  The right wing Yamina, including the modern Nationalist Orthodox has lost power and may not join the government.  I don’t think that will make much difference one way or another.  If they are in the government, they will not have key portfolios like Defense and Justice which they recently had.  What a saga.  After three elections, we have a government.  I wonder if the threat of Gantz to pass legislation making it illegal for a person under indictment to be the Prime Minister finally brought Bibi around.  He also saw that got the best that he could under those circumstances.  Praise God.

Israel Still Does Not Have a New Government but is going to Lift Corona Restrictions

Israel shares with most countries the fact that there is a limit of time to which you can shut down an economy without destroying the country.  You can indeed overcome the virus and destroy the country.  With the virus having peaked in terms of new hospitalizations, as the United States, Germany and other countries, Israel will now seek to exit the severe restrictions.  Amazingly with both the United States and Israel,  this is the week for this to be done.  Some still believe that shutting down was not the right approach.  The right approach would have been to isolate the vulnerable population and to have younger healthy people continue to keep the economy going, but to take more than normal precautions against catching the virus (facemasks, washing hands and not allowing any sick to be at work).  Now we look to massive testing in both countries and opening up areas of the country that are less affected.  In our town of 23,000, on the border of Jerusalem, there are new cases of people sick with the virus.

The progress on fighting the virus is going according to the best of mature prophetic discernment.  I wrote a summary on this a few weeks ago.  Things are working out very much as was noted.  There are now more and more hopeful treatments short of a vaccine that are in the process of being tested. 

In the midst of this, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) and Benny Gantz are still negotiating for a unity government.  We don’t know if there will be a solution, but we do pray for a unity government.  Right now, the big issue is that Bibi seeks relief form a possible Supreme Court decision that would say that an indicted person cannot be prime minister.  However, he wants more than that. He wants a law that would say that when Gantz would become Prime Minister in a rotation in 18 months and he would be the deputy Prime Minister, that the law requiring cabinet ministers to step down if indicted would not apply to a deputy Prime Minister in this situation.  Gantz is reluctant to give this guarantee.  However, we have to note that almost half of the voters voted for parties that they knew would give their support to Bibi to be Prime Minister.  That has to count.  I do not think that the Supreme Court would decide that an indicted person cannot be Prime Minister, but the issue of a deputy is something else.  I think Gantz should yield on this point in deference to those who voted for Bibi and his allied parties.

We either are very close to a new government or may be close to failure.  Gantz may also have the power in the Knesset as speaker to pass legislation that says an indicted person cannot serve as Prime Minister.   Then Bibi’s party, Likud, would have to pick someone else.  That is Gantz’s primary leverage to force Bibi to make a real deal with real compromises.  Let’s hope and pray for a unity government. 

One last thing.  We now know that China, by covering up the virus and letting many thousands fly from Wuhan after they sealed Wuhan off domestically is primarily responsible for the spread of the virus.  All now know that they spent a week of denials which itself has cost the world several trillions of dollars.  (Associated Press laid this out fully)  More and more evidence is coming out that this virus originated not in a wet meat market but in a laboratory.  This would be one more reason for the cover up.  It is also clear that the World Health Organization leaders enabled the cover up.  We will soon have a great world controversy over what to do about all this.