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Israel & Christians Today: Weekly Update (June 14)

Andrew Tucker - 14 June 2019

Israel & Christians Today is a ministry of Christians for Israel International. In our bi-monthly newspaper and weekly updates, we seek to help Christians understand Israel and world affairs from a Biblical perspective 

This week we have seen more unrest and debate both in Israel and in the international community about the character of Israel as a Jewish national home. We can see this as a continuation of the mysterious process that the Lord initiated over a hundred years ago, when he planted in the heart of the Jewish people the desire to return home to the land after over 2000 years of exile. The world, by and large, looking only to the outward things, fails to see the hand of God working in the hearts and minds of men and women.

The status of the “occupied” territories – Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria

US Ambassador Friedman stated in an interview a week ago that “under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.” The statement was interpreted by many as approval by the Trump administration of annexation of the West Bank. This led to a strong response in the Arab world. That is strange, because all that Friedman did was acknowledge that Israel has a legitimate right to retain parts of the “West Bank” (ie. East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria), a right that is likely to be reflected in any agreement it may reach with the Palestinians. That right is reflected in the terms of UN Security Council resolution 242, issued shortly after the Six Day War in June 1967. The reaction reflects the reality that many of Israel’s detractors deny Jewish rights of self-determination under international law, as reflected and accepted by the international community in 1920 in the Mandate for Palestine. As a group of international lawyers recently confirmed, the Mandate for Palestine laid the basis for Israel’s legal rights to Judea and Samaria.

In Europe, there is debate about whether products that are produced in “Israeli settlements” must be labelled as such. In late 2015, the European Commission published an “Interpretative Notice” stating that if goods are produced in Israeli-sponsored communities in, say, Hebron or East Jerusalem, it is misleading to say they are “made in Israel”, because the EU does not consider the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be part of Israel. Pro-Israel groups argue that such a law discriminates against Israel, as there is no such requirement for goods produced in other “occupied” territories, such as Northern Cyprus. In an important development on 15th June, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice delivered his opinion in a case brought by the wine maker Psagot (based in Benjamin, north of Jerusalem) against the French Minister of Economy, who had pursuant to the EC’s Notice required Psagot to state on its labels that its wine is produced in an Israeli settlement. The Advocate General basically supported the European Commission’s policy, stating that consumers must be informed if goods are produced in Israeli settlements, because these are illegal under international law. The Court is expected to issue its ruling in this case later in 2019.

Muslim clerics support Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria
This week a group of 40 Muslim leaders were hosted by the Samaria Regional Council. Amongst them was French Cleric Hassen Chalghoumi, known for his close ties to French Jews, who says BDS efforts run contrary to Quranic law. He also criticized Palestinian rejection of the upcoming US-led peace conference in Bahrain. “I don’t think that’s right. You should always go and talk, sit around the same table. Even if you don’t agree — dialogue can save us.”

Palestinian Christians
This report about the suppressed plight of Palestinian Christians published by Gatestone Institute is a must read. While European nations continue their obsession with the “two state solution”, the plight of Palestinian Christians under the rule of the PLO is conveniently ignored. It simply does not fit the consensus narrative of a Palestinian State. The reality is that Christians in the Palestinian territories are amongst the most persecuted in the world. In an Islamic State of Palestine, Christians will be reduced to “dhimmi” status, and Jews will not even be allowed to live there. Is that what we want?

Pride parade in Tel Aviv
Coming weekend sees the Gay Pride in Tel Aviv. According to Times of Israel, “tens of thousands of people were celebrating in Tel Aviv’s streets Friday as the famously gay-friendly city put on one of the world’s larger Pride parades. Rainbow flags flooded the streets, and organizers said some 250,000 people were expected to take part in the annual event.” In this article, Ruthie Blom writes about the intriguing Likud MK Amir Ohana – a gay man with strong right-wing views who has been appointed by PM Netanyahu as Israel’s interim Minister of Justice.

This is an aspect of the modern State of Israel that is of great concern and must cause great sadness to the Lord. But before pointing the finger at Israel we must remember our own guilt in this matter. We in the nations should be ashamed that we have encouraged the Jewish people to pursue the ways of the world. Instead of speaking with love towards the Jewish people, the church has distanced itself from them. We have also become worldly, and have failed to “provoke the Jews to jealousy”. Let us pray with extra fervour that the Jewish people will look to God alone for their salvation, and that our nations may set the right example. For Jew and Gentiles alike, our hope is that the Redeemer will come soon from Zion, to those who are looking for Him (Romans 11:25).

 

Scripture for the week: Ezekiel 36:8-15
The Lord God has other plans than the nations for Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. He is fulfilling His purposes, by bringing the Jewish people home.

“‘But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, 10 and I will cause many people to live on you—yes, all of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. 11 I will increase the number of people and animals living on you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 12 I will cause people, my people Israel, to live on you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.13 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because some say to you, “You devour people and deprive your nation of its children,” 14 therefore you will no longer devour people or make your nation childless, declares the Sovereign Lord. 15 No longer will I make you hear the taunts of the nations, and no longer will you suffer the scorn of the peoples or cause your nation to fall, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

 

Shabbat shalom,

Andrew Tucker
Editor-in-Chief
Israel & Christians Today

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