“The relationship with India has never been as strong as it is today…”

A few days ago I received an email from Isi Leibler – a Jewish journalist who writes for the Jerusalem Post in Israel. To be honest I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read his letter – perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

Leibler, a Zionist, has been writing about many aspects of Israel including its relationship with global powers like the European Union, the Vatican and Putin’s Russia, which are all threatening to impose their sphere of influence on Israel in one way or another.

Unwittingly he has observed and written about many of the traits that we expect to characterise the latter day Israel, prior to the return of the Messiah.

In his Rosh Hashana email, Leibler touches on Israels strong relationship with the Biblical Tarshish, the improved relations with Sheba and Dedan, and the ongoing growth in wealth, from hi-tech and biotech success, through to the discovery of gas – all characteristics which could become an irresistible proposition for an impoverished Russia. (Ezekiel 38)

I quote from his Rosh Hashana letter – enjoy reading:

The relationship with India has never been as strong as it is today and we have developed solid economic links with China, Japan and other East Asian countries.

There have been remarkable diplomatic breakthroughs in Africa with the potential for major economic and political development, as well as a strengthening of relations in Latin America.

The most incredible change has been in our relationships with the moderate Sunni states. We are partnering with Egypt against Islamic fundamentalists in the Sinai Peninsula and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has effectively praised Israel and publicly condemned Muslim extremism. There is even covert cooperation with the Saudis and the Gulf states, which recognize Israel as a critical element in the confrontation with the Iranians seeking regional hegemony.

This has yet to be reflected in the foreign policies of these countries, which still tend to engage in ritual anti-Israeli condemnations. But one senses that in the not too distant future, the winds of change will also impact on their public postures.

Beyond diplomacy, in the midst of global economic chaos, Israel’s economy has been outstandingly successful. Our ongoing progress in high-tech and biotech and our global contribution to cyber defense and security represent our biggest exports.

Two recent developments are amazing. The first is the discovery of gas fields, albeit ineptly handled politically, but which nevertheless presents a fantastic opportunity for us in economic and politically strategic terms which will soon be realized. The second, which we take for granted, is the remarkable success of our desalination program which provides 80 percent of our water needs and far exceeds that of any other country. It also represents yet another major contribution by Israel to global welfare.

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Rosh-Hashana-5777-Gratitude-and-optimism-469256

 

Brexit and Israel

The decision of the British people to leave the European Union (EU) reflects their perception that the EU has a negative impact on the United Kingdom (UK).  Few if any will have given any thought to the implications of that decision for Israel, but that it will have implications for Israel is certain; it is these that will be of most interest to students of prophecy.

It has long been recognised that the UK and Germany are Israel’s strongest supporters in Europe.  For that reason, Oded Eran, Israel’s former ambassador to the EU, said that from Israel’s perspective it would have been preferable for the UK to remain in the EU.

Mr Eran was not alone in this view.  Just a few days prior to the referendum, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron addressed a Jewish audience and urged them to vote to stay.  He asked them to consider the implications for Israel: “Do you want Britain, Israel’s greatest friend, in there opposing boycotts, opposing the campaign for divestment and sanctions, or do you want us outside the room, powerless to affect the discussion that takes place?”  That Jewish audience might have agreed with Mr Eran and Mr Cameron, but the majority of the electorate voted to leave.  The UK’s ability to support Israel from within the EU will come to end when she formally leaves the EU, which is expected to be in 2019.

Having lost the referendum, Mr Cameron resigned and was replaced as Prime Minister by Theresa May, but that does not mean that UK support for Israel has been weakened.  Mrs May, the daughter of Anglican vicar and a devout Christian, has visited Israel on several occasions, taking a particular interest in Israel’s high-tech industries.  As Home Secretary she was noted for her very strong stand against antisemitism.  Following the 2015 terrorist attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, Mrs May wore a sign declaring “Je Suis Juif” (I am a Jew).

Israel may expect the UK to remain a close friend in coming years, but the UK’s ability to temper anti-Israel sentiment in the EU will come to an end.  This will be seen as a mixed blessing by Israel.  A few days after the referendum, the UK’s ambassador in Israel, David Quarrey, reassured Israel that the UK would remain a friend and partner of the Jewish state.  He noted that the UK had been a friend of Israel before it joined the EU and would remain so after it left.

The UK is the world’s fifth largest economy and a significant trading power.  Its exit from the EU is likely to see the UK focusing more on markets elsewhere in the world.  This would include trade with other members of the Commonwealth but also with nations in the Middle East.  In that context, Israel already is the UK’s single-largest trading partner in the region.  Trade between the two nations, largely is in Israel’s favour, is predicted to exceed US$10 billion this year and is expected to keep growing.  It has been suggested that Brexit might enhance this trading relationship if Israel and the UK can put together a bilateral free-trade agreement relatively swiftly.

The positive and negative implications of Brexit for Israel mesh very well with long-standing interpretations of Bible prophecy which present the UK as a trading power offering support for Israel at the time of the end when she is threatened by Gog and his allies, which include European nations.  The use of the word “merchants” in Ezekiel 38:13 suggests it may well be bilateral commercial interests which influence the UK to express support for Israel at that time.  In all these things we can detect the hand of the angels manipulating world events in accordance with God’s plan and purpose.  Let us have the wisdom to heed the signs of the time and prepare for our Lord’s return.

Israel and the X factor in Australian Politics

One of the big winners in the 2016 Federal election in Australia is the Nick Xenophon Team, a political party created by former independent Senator Nick Xenophon.  Mr Xenophon first came to prominence as a fervent campaigner for gambling controls.  Gambling often leads to significant problems for vulnerable people and his stance on the evils associated with gambling appealed to many in the community.

As first a member of the Upper House in the South Australian parliament and later as a senator in Federal parliament, Mr Xenophon expanded his platform by campaigning for a number of populist causes, portraying himself as the champion of the downtrodden and marginalised.  He is a strong advocate of domestic manufacturing and has argued for protection for industries and jobs perceived to be at risk from economic reforms and liberalised trading arrangements.

In the 2016 Federal election Mr Xenophon’s populist policies attracted considerable support and delivered his team several seats in the Federal parliament.  He now has more influence in Canberra than ever before, especially in the light of the tight outcome of the election and the finely balanced numbers in parliament.  Mr Xenophon’s support will be vital if the government is to remain in power and in its efforts to secure support for legislation it wishes to enact.  It must be expected that Mr Xenophon will seek support for causes he holds dear in exchange for his support of the government.

But what does this have to do with Israel?  More than you might have imagined.  While Mr Xenophon’s views on gambling and support for local industries are well known, what is less well-known is his fervent advocacy for the Palestinians in their struggle with Israel.  In August 2014, Mr Xenophon travelled to the Middle East as a guest of the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA).  While there, his itinerary involved mainly meetings with Palestinian officials.  His contact with the Israeli side of the conflict was confined mostly to meetings with extremist Israeli groups which are harsh critics of the Israeli government.  Mr Xenophon has donated funds to the AFOPA, an organisation which actively supports the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which condemns Israel and seeks to isolate the Jewish state from the wider world.

Mr Xenophon was one of the first signatories of what is known as the Canberra Declaration.  This extremely one-sided and poorly-informed document calls for an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and its alleged blockade of Gaza.  His contributions in the Senate have reflected his support for this slanted view of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

In the Senate on24 March, 2015, following a meeting he had with the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), Mr Xenophon made a speech which was highly critical of Israel, in the course of which he claimed incorrectly that:

Gaza has been living under an Israeli blockade since 2007 when Israel placed massive restrictions over movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza.

In that speech Mr Xenophon did criticise Palestinian forces in Gaza for firing rockets into Israel but his rhetoric was overwhelmingly anti-Israel.  He questioned the proportionality of Israel’s response to the rocket attacks from Gaza, ignoring the fact that this is complicated by Hamas’ policy of using civilian infrastructure and human shields for military purposes.  He also ignored the stringent border restrictions imposed on Gaza by Egypt.  It is likely that the omissions from that speech reflected the slanted information supplied to him by the APAN.

At a Senate committee hearing on 3 June, 2015, Mr Xenophon directly questioned whether recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is consistent with the Australian government’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.  In the light of Joel 3, students of prophecy have good reason to be sceptical of the two-state solution.  It should be recognised, however, that when an avowed supporter of the Palestinian side questions the legitimacy of the two-state solution they are really calling into question the concept of a national homeland for the Jews in any form.

On 25 June, 2015, Mr Xenophon addressed the Senate criticising the Attorney-General’s statement that “the description of East Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ … is freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful”.  It is clear whose side Senator Xenophon supports in the debate about the status of Jerusalem.  His position may be confirmed by the fact that, on 15 July, 2014, Mr Xenophon co-hosted a forum to mark the tenth anniversary of the International Court of Justice finding that Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal.

It is hard to know how many of his colleagues in the Nick Xenophon Team share their leader’s views about Israel and the Palestinians, mainly because he has been very reluctant to allow them to speak for themselves.  It is known, however, that the Team’s lead candidate for the Senate in Victoria, Naomi Halpern, who is Jewish, has used social media to support the description of Israel as “a 68-year-old apartheid state”.

Since its creation as a Jewish state, Israel has enjoyed strong support from Australia.  While the electoral success of Senator Xenophon is unlikely to overturn completely Australia’s support for Israel, the government might be encouraged to tone down its advocacy for the Jewish state.  Ezekiel 38 portrays Tarshish and the young lions as mounting a somewhat muted response to the Gogian host which invades Israel at the time of the end.  One wonders whether the political influence of Senator Xenophon and his colleagues in the new parliament might extend to foreign policy issues affecting Israel and the Middle East.  We cannot be sure, but we may be certain that God is at work influencing the nations in unseen ways to ensure that His plan and purpose is worked out.  Should our Lord’s return be delayed we may watch with interest how the X factor influences Australia’s policy toward the Middle East.

Russian forces fire at Israeli Aircraft

Reuters Reports:

Russian forces in Syria have fired at least twice on Israeli military aircraft, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek improved operational coordination with Moscow, Israel’s top-selling newspaper said on Friday.

The unsourced report in Yedioth Ahronoth gave no dates or locations for the incidents nor any indication Israeli planes were hit. Russia mounted its military intervention in Syria in September to shore Damascus up amid a now 5-year-old rebellion.

Separately, Israel’s Channel 10 TV said a Russian warplane approached an Israeli warplane off the Mediterranean coast of Syria last week but that there was no contact between them.

An Israeli military spokesman declined comment. Netanyahu’s office and the Russian embassy in Israel did not immediately respond.

srael, which has repeatedly bombed Syria to foil suspected arms handovers to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, was quick to set up an operational hotline with Moscow designed to avoid accidentally trading fire with Russian interventionary forces.

Visiting Moscow on Thursday, Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin in televised remarks: “I came here with one main goal – to strengthen the security coordination between us so as to avoid mishaps, misunderstandings and unnecessary confrontations.”

In an apparent allusion to Syria, Putin said: “I think there are understandable reasons for these intensive contacts (with Israel), given the complicated situation in the region.”

According to Yedioth, the reported Russian fire on Israeli planes was first raised with Putin by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who visited Moscow on March 15. At the time, Putin responded that he was unaware of the incidents, Yedioth said.


“Be ready and keep ready, you and all your hosts that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them.

After many days you will be mustered. In the latter years you will go against the land that is restored from war, the land whose people were gathered from many peoples upon the mountains of Israel, which had been a continual waste. Its people were brought out from the peoples and now dwell securely, all of them.

You will advance, coming on like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you.”

Ezekiel 38

 

Putin agrees to take the Golan from Israel, and give it to Syria

Last year we wrote a post explaining what could cause Russia to invade Israel.

At the time, Israel’s Prime Minister had flown to Washington, and was making a desperate bid to get Obama’s support for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Only a few weeks earlier a discovery had been made that would serve to increase tensions on the question of sovereignty over the Golan – huge oil deposits were found on the Golan Heights, and verified by an Israeli company.

Yet, weeks later, Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel having failed to secure Obamas support.

It wasnt long before the United Nations – including Russia – condemned Israels “occupation” of the Golan Heights, and around the same time, Syria asked Russia to develop their oil resources.

Then, over the course of the next 6 months, the Israeli leadership became very concerned about Russian activity near the Golan.

Click here for the context of the story thus far.

Now, Debkafile reports the following:


“Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will visit Moscow on Thursday, April 21 to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to launch the most important battle of his political career, and one of Israel’s most decisive contests of the last 10 years: the battle over the future of the Golan Heights.

DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources and its sources in Moscow report exclusively that Israel’s top political leaders and military commanders were stunned and shocked last weekend when they found out that US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to support the return of the Golan to Syria. The two presidents gave their top diplomats, Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the green light to include such a clause in a proposal being drafted at the Geneva conference on ending the Syrian civil war.

Israel captured the Golan from the Syrian army 49 years ago, during the Six-Day War in 1967 after the Syrian army invaded Israel.

In 1981, during the tenure of then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israel passed a law defining the Golan as a territory under Israeli sovereignty. However, it did not state that the area belongs to Israel.

While Israel was preparing for a diplomatic battle over the future of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, Obama and Putin decided to deal a diplomatic blow to Israel and Netanyahu’s government on an unexpected issue, the Golan.

It is part of an endeavor by the two powers to use their diplomatic and military cooperation regarding Syria to impose agreements on neighboring countries, such as Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

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For example, Washington and Moscow are trying to impose an agreement regarding the granting of independence to Syrian Kurds, despite Ankara’s adamant opposition. The two presidents are also pressuring Riyadh and Amman to accept the continuation of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule, at least for the immediate future.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that just like the other diplomatic or military steps initiated by Obama and Putin in Syria, such as those for Assad’s eventual removal from power, the two powers see a resolution of the Golan issue as a gradual process that may take a long time, perhaps even years. But as far as they are concerned, Israel will have to withdraw from the Golan at the end of that process.

It should be noted that Prime Minister Netanyahu is not traveling to Washington to discuss the Golan issue with Obama. The frequent trips by the prime minister, senior officials and top IDF brass to Moscow in recent months show where the winds are blowing in the Middle East.

However, Moscow is not Washington, and Israel has no lobby in the Russian capital defending its interests.

It should be made very clear that the frequent trips by senior Israeli officials to Moscow have not created an Israeli policy that can influence Putin or other senior members of the Russian leadership. Putin has made occasional concessions to Israel on matters of minimal strategic importance, but on diplomatic and military steps regarding Syria and Iran he has shown little consideration of Jerusalem’s stance.

It should also be noted that there has been no basis for the enthusiasm over the Russian intervention in Syria shown by Netanyahu, Israeli ministers and senior IDF officers.

All of the calls by a number of Russia experts, mainly those of DEBKAfile, for extreme caution in ties with Putin have fallen on deaf ears among the political leadership in Jerusalem and the IDF command in Tel Aviv.

Amid these developments, three regional actors are very pleased by Washington and Moscow’s agreement to demand Israeli withdrawal from the Golan: Syrian President Assad, the Iranian leadership in Tehran and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Now, they do not need to risk a military confrontation with Israel over the Golan because Obama and Putin have essentially agreed to do the dirty work for them.