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Palestinian factions announce unity government

The rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas overcame their ideological differences and announced on Wednesday that they will form a government of national unity for the Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, causing alarm in Israel and dismay in the US and Europe.

Although the deal has not been signed and there are still details for both sides to work out, Hamas has already announced that by joining with Fatah, which dominates the Western backed Palestinian Authority, they are not joining in the recognition of Israel or participation in peace negotiations with the Jewish State.

"Palestinian divisions can't continue while efforts are being made to ensure recognition of a Palestinian state," agreed Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby, who helped broker the deal.

Later on Thursday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah, indicated that he was still theoretically interested in negotiations with Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the PA needed to choose between a peace deal with Israel and one with Hamas.

"Peace with both is impossible, because Hamas aims to destroy the State of Israel and says that openly," Netanyahu said. "It fires missiles at our cities and at our children. He added that the current situation led to questions as to "whether Hamas will gain control over Judea and Samaria, the way it did over the Gaza Strip (but) I hope that the Palestinian Authority will make the right choice - that it will choose peace with Israel. The choice is in its hands."

Other Israeli officials cautioned that such deals have been announced before and fell apart before they could be fully implemented, so it's best to wait and see what develops.

Elsewhere, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi declared on Thursday that the unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah is a "blessed, positive move...in line with the Palestinian nation's historic objectives (including) resistance against the Zionist occupiers."

He also praised the new Egyptian government's role in mediating between the two factions and added that he hoped the agreement would "lead to acceleration of the developments in the Palestine region and to acquiring great victories in confrontations with the ruthless occupiers."

In Washington, several members of Congress denounced the deal and declared their intention of reviewing US aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) declared the deal to be "a recipe for failure, mixed with violence, leading to disaster."

Iranian ties with Arab states has Israel worried

In a sign of warming relations between Iran and its former enemy Iraq, Justice Ministers from the two countries signed an extradition agreement on Monday in Teheran, a move sure to cause unease among other Arab governments worried about the growing power and aggression of the Islamic Republic.

On the same day however, Iran suffered a diplomatic setback when the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain expelled an Iranian diplomat, Hujatullah Rahmani, the second secretary at the Iranian embassy in Manama. The action was taken as part of an escalating war of words between Iran and the Sunni dominated Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region.

The moves also follow the dispatch of a Saudi led contingent of paramilitary troops from GCC countries to assist the Bahraini government in containing unrest by Shi'ite groups which the government fears are being supported by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Tehran denies this and has roundly denounced the GCC intervention force, which Saudi Arabia recently announced would be a semi-permanent phenomenon.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was in Kuwait on Tuesday, where he attempted to alleviate fears that the transitional government in Cairo's own warming relations with Iran will come at the expense of its Arab brethren. The visit comes after a month in which several Iranian and Egyptian officials declared their intentions to open up a new era of closer cooperation between the two countries, leading to dismay in several Arab capitals, as well as in Washington and Jerusalem.

Inside Iran, officials have denied that a growing wave of strikes and protests by disgruntled workers is going on, despite massive crowds gathering almost daily in front of government buildings to demand back wages and other promised benefits.

"Because the authorities do not want to confirm strikes at factories, they refuse to answer questions about why workers were dismissed or arrested for protesting," said Javanmir Moradi, head of the Electrical and Metal Workers' Trade Union in the western city of Kermanshah.

Bloody crackdown continues in Syria despite sanctions

An increasingly violent government crackdown on anti-regime protesters in Syria has resulted in widespread condemnation as leaders from major powers as well as the UN and the Arab League called on President Bashar Assad to halt the escalating use of force and implement reforms.

The US and UK have both indicated their willingness to implement sanctions against the Assad regime, and several other countries are reportedly considering the move. Efforts are also being made to get the UN to condemn the crackdown, a possible precursor to a UN mandate for armed intervention such as UNSCR 1973 authorizing the use of force to protect civilians in Libya.

Military and security units loyal to Assad have shown little notice of the diplomatic manuevers, raining heavy barrages of artillery down on the southern city of Daraa and infantry units backed by armored vehicles and helicopters moved into neighborhoods in several other Syrian cities. The death toll was reportedly over 400 on Wednesday as leaders of expat opposition communities in Turkey and Europe begged the world to help their countryman.

Meanwhile, a US State Department spokesman announced on Tuesday that the US has quietly discontinued pressuring Israel to work towards a peace deal with the Assad regime in Syria, having decided in light of recent events that it is not a reliable partner for peace.

"The weakening of Syria, of the regime, is a blow for Iran and this, from a strategic point of view, is a positive development not only for Israel but for Jordan and for other forces," said Michael Eppel, a Middle East expert at the University of Haifa. "But there is always the possibility, and this you cannot predict, that maybe there will be a temptation to bring a crisis to Gaza or southern Lebanon in order to divert public opinion."

Elsewhere in the Arab world, the military stalemate in Libya showed few signs of change on Wednesday.

"Militarily, the fact is, the situation is not much different from what it was at the very beginning of the war," said French strategic analyst Francois Heisbourg. "Qadhafi is essentially controlling the same territory as he was at the beginning of the war, so he is not likely to leave power readily as part of a negotiated deal. So from the standpoint of the coalition it's not a great result."

Finally, officials in Yemen announced on Tuesday that a plan put forward by the Gulf Cooperation Council for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to give up power could be finalized within a week, leading to hopes that the shattered but strategically important country might soon be able to start putting itself back together.

Obama Administration in bid to avert Palestinian UN action

The Obama Administration has launched a new diplomatic initiative with Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at avoiding a PA threat to take its case for statehood to the UN in September, but PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo declared on Monday that the PA was determined to go ahead with the plan regardless of what Israel or the US does.

"The Palestinian leadership won't back down unless real and serious peace negotiations are launched on the basis of the 1967 borders," Abed Rabbo told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, adding that the PA was also prepared to make a deal that would include a land, and not a population, swap with Israel.

"Without this, we will go to the UN, and after winning recognition [for a state] we will demand that Israeli military and settler presence [in the West Bank] be considered an act of aggression on the sovereignty of a full member of the UN," he added. "We don't have a third option."

PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are both scheduled to make trips to Europe in the coming months to lobby for acceptance and denial, respectively, of the idea by the major democracies. The US and Germany have already come out publically against a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in September.

The PA has been joined by its rival, the Iranian backed Islamist terror militia Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, in sharply criticizing Obama and flatly rejecting the idea recently put forth for a Palestinian State with eastern Jerusalem as its capital but without guaranteeing the right of millions of Palestinians to "return" to the homes of their parents and grandparents in pre-1948 Israel.

Relations between Israel and the PA took a big hit on Sunday when a PA police officer shot and killed a Jewish man after praying at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. Four other Jewish worshippers were also wounded in the shooting attack on their vehicle which took place as they were leaving Nablus.

Ben Yosef Livnat (Yeshiva World News)The killed man was Ben Yosef Livnat, 24, father of four and nephew of Minister of Culture and Sports Limor Livnat (Likud). Of the four wounded, two were in serious condition on Tuesday. After the shooting, a crowd gathered and vandalized the Tomb.

The IDF said that the group of Breslov Hassidim worshippers had entered Nablus, which is in Area A and under the security jurisdiction of the PA, without permission of the authorities and the PA police claimed that they had refused to obey instructions and tried to run through a roadblock. The Breslov group has a history of disregarding the instructions of the IDF in regards to visiting sites of historical and/or theological significance in the West Bank. But Gershon Mesika, head of the Samaria regional council, told Army Radio that precisely because the PA police knew this and knew that the worshippers were unarmed they should have known that there was no reason to use deadly force.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu sharply condemns the murder of Ben-Yosef Livnat and demands that the PA take tough steps against the perpetrators of this criminal act against Jews who were on their way to pray," the Prime Minister's Office said in the statement.

The PA has admitted that the officer "fired erroneously" and has expressed embarrassment over the incident but so far they have refused to transfer custody of the officer to Israel.

Word from Jerusalem 2008

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WFJ Jan 2008 Lost in Transit

January 2008 - Lost in Transit (USA Edition)

"Of nearly 3 million Soviet Jews only a third have made it to Israel. Some stayed behind, but the rest were lost in transit on the way, wandering in the wilderness outside the Promised Land"  Read more (pdf) »

 WFJ Feb 2008 

Feburary 2008 - In the Spirit of Elijah (USA Edition)

"Many Christians have now refuted the erroneous teachings of deicide and Replacement Theology. Whole denominations are praying for and supporting Israel..."
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WFJ March 2008

March 2008 - Jail Break (USA Edition)

"After watching his village burned to the ground in South Sudan, 'Emmanuel' saw his younger sister raped by an Arab Muslim militia then killed alongside his mother. He was only 13..." Read more (pdf) »

WFJ April 2008

April 2008 - Something to Celebrate (USA Edition)

"The unlikely 'feel-good' story of Israel's 60th anniversary year is found in the millions of Christians standing in solidarity with the Jewish people worldwide..."
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WFJ May 08 small

May 2008 - Struggle & the Dream (USA Edition)

"Just like the Patriarch Jacob, Israel today has had to endure the struggle" of intense conflict and terror within the dream of returning and rebuilding the promised land..." 
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WFJ June 08

June 2008: Discerning the Times (USA Edition)

"There is an ominous shift happening in the world today. Not only is Israel on the front lines of this battle, but so are Christians throughout the Muslim world..."  
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WFJ July 08

July 2008 - Elections in the Air (USA Edition)

"Israel is facing a crisis of leadership, faltering peace talks, a looming Iranian nuclear threat and daily rocket barrages from Gaza..."   Read more (pdf) »

WFJ Aug 08 small

August 2008 - The Pattern of Return (USA Edition)

"One aspect of the biblical "pattern of return" in Nehemiah is often overlooked: The nation's collective repentance for the sins that led to exile..."
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WFJ Sept 2008 90x100

September 2008 - If My People... (USA Edition)

"Gripped by economic uncertainty at home and war abroad, the US is at a crossroads as it heads toward the presidential election this fall. Israel too finds itself facing a crisis of leadership even as Iran edges closer to the nuclear brink."
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WFJ Oct 2008

October 2008 - What Would Jesus Say...? (USA Edition)

"God has not lost control of His world. No, He is firmly in control and what appears chaotic and even dangerous to us is not to Him...."  
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WFJ Nov 2008

November 2008 - Feast Draws Record Crowd (USA Edition)

"The presence of almost 8000 pilgrims here from 100 nations sends a strong statement of solidarity with Israel, despite the recent economic turmoil..."
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WFJ December 2008

December 2008 - 'O Jerusalem...' (USA Edition)

"While teaching in the Temple courts in the days leading up to His death and resurrection, Jesus prophesied the destruction of the city he loved at the hands of Romans. 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem …' He cried..."  
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Word from Jerusalem 2010

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WFJ Jan 2010

January 2010 - Valley of Decision (USA Edition)

"Joel forsees an outpouring of God's Spirit, the restoration of Israel and a time of judgment. The world is entering the valley of decision..."
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WFJ Feb 2010

February 2010 - Hands on in Haiti (USA Edition)

"In the hours following the Haiti earthquake, an Israeli rescue team had just finished an 18-hour recovery operation in a deep forest ravinein Mexico and needed our help..."
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WFJ March 2010 90x100

March 2010 - 'It's a Wonderful Day' (USA Edition)

"We waited a long, long time for this document. Wehave children and grandchildren here in Israel, and we decided to spend our remaining years with them..."
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WFJ April 2010 90x100

April 2010 - Squeezing Bibi (USA Edition)

"There are few places in the world where feelings matter more.Despite the truth of the situation, if the Palestinians feel squeezed they are entitled to riot..."
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WFJ May 2010 90x100

May 2010 - Haifa Home Dedication (USA Edition)

"We cannot bring back the countless victims of the Nazi genocide, but we can bring some comfort and relief to those still with us..."
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WFJ June 2010

June 2010 - The Journey Inside (USA Edition)

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WFJ July 2010

July 2010 - Brigands Bound for Gaza (USA Edition)

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WFJ August 2010

August 2010 - Standing for Something (USA Edition)

"It's all very well to point out the challenges Israel faces, but apart from what we are against, what do we stand for?"
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WFJ September 2010

September 2010 -Thirty Years Young (USA Edition)

A tribute to the millions who have shared the 'Divine Project' of the ICEJ; who believed Christians needed to stand up and affirm the truth of the Bible...
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WFJ Oct 2010, 90x100

October 2010- Tabernacles 2010 (USA Edition)

"You remind us we are not alone," Prime Minister Netanyahu tells ChristianPilgrims at the 2010 Feast of Tabernacles Celebration in Jerusalem.
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WFJ NOV 2010, 90x100

November 2010- Minarets & Lances (USA Edition)

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WFJ Dec 2010, 90x100

December 2010- Isolating Israel (International Edition)

"There is an attack on Israel," writes Malcolm Hedding, "that is so widespread, sustained and sadly effective that everywhere people are buying into it or giving in to it..."
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Word from Jerusalem 2009

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WFJ Jan 2009

 January 2009 - The Durban Dilemma (USA Edition)

"A United Nations conference against racism should represent a unique and timely opportunity for a man like President Obama...If only it hadn't already been hijacked by Iran"
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All Eyes on Obama

February 2009 - All Eyes on Obama (USA Edition)

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Returning Home

March 2009 - Returning Home (USA Edition)

"The economic crisis has prompted thousands of Israelis living in the US to look again to Zion, their American dream shattered and their hope set once again on Israel..."
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WFJ April 2009

April 2009 - The God Who Speaks (USA Edition)

"We serve the living God, Who has manifested Himself to us in three persons and Who constantly engages His world and speaks to it..."
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WFJ May 2009

May 2009 - Days of Infamy (USA Edition)

"Few would consider Hitler’s birthday an appropriate date for a high-profile global conference against racism. But to hand over the platform to a Holocaust denier is simply unconscionable..."
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WFJ June 2009

June 2009 - The Battle for Israel (USA Edition)

"There is no doubt that the Church needs to rediscover the role and power of prayer. Jesus said that His house should be “a house of prayer for all nations..."
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WFJ - July 2009

July 2009 - Shoulder to Shoulder (USA Edition)

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WFJ Aug09

August 2009 - The End of Defeatism (USA Edition)

"Even by Palestinian standards, the swift and complete rejection of an Israeli peace overture following Netanyahu's June 14 policy speach was baffling..."
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WFJ Sept 09

September 2009 - Turning Point (USA Edition)

"Four years after the Gaza  pullout, the pioneers of Gush Katif are building again. This time they are transforming other lives in the process..."
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WFJ Oct 2009

October 2009 - Jerusalem United (USA Edition)

"The Jews have more claim to Jerusalem that the French to Paris, the Germans to Berlin or the British to London... "
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WFJ Nov 09

November 2009 - 30 Years of the Feast (USA Edition)

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December 2009 - Saved by Christmas (USA Edition)

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Israel's Friends in the Nations

The video featured here is a recording of ICEJ's USA Director, Susan Michael, speaking on Israeli Night at the Feast of Tabernacles 2009.

Some 1,000 Israeli guests in the auditorium that night were hugely impacted by this message of hope and friendship at a time when many feel they are alone in the world.

The History of Christian Zionism

The Christian Zionist Movement has grown in numbers and in impact in recent years. Today, thousands of Christians from all over the world are, more than ever, ready to declare their love and support for the nation of Israel. Each year they come in their multitudes to Jerusalem to join the International Christian Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. But the roots of this movement go back throughout Christian history.

In a sense, Christian Zionism goes right back to the 1st century period, as there have always been men and women who have believed and taught its tenets. Many examples of this from history could be quoted, but an article of this nature does not allow us to do it. As a definite theology, however, Christian Zionism had its beginnings among the pietistic Protestants of the 16th century and the 17th century Puritans of England. In 1587 a man named Francis Kett was burned alive for expressing his belief that the Bible prophesied a return of the Jews to their land. Moreover, in 1607, Thomas Brightman published a book in Basel called “Revelation of the Revelation”. In this book he wrote: “What, shall they return to Jerusalem again? There is nothing more certain; the prophets do everywhere confirm it.” Others of the same period frequently expressed a similar belief. For instance, Isaac de la Peyrere (1594-1676), who served as the French Ambassador to Denmark, wrote a book wherein he argued for a restoration of the Jews to Israel without conversion to Christianity.

By the time of the 18th century, the Christian Zionist Movement, known then as the Restoration Movement, included many theologians, writers and politicians. Noteworthy was Thomas Newton, the Bishop of Bristol. He believed Jews would be restored to their native city and country and at the same time he condemned anti-Jewish prejudice. The movement grew with the onset of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.

In the 19th century the movement continued to gather momentum and one of the outstanding personalities in this regard was Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury. He noted in his diaries that the signs were right for the return of the Jews to Palestine. A certain Charles Henry Churchill, a British resident of Damascus, also became a zealous propagator of the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. In 1841 he wrote a letter to the Jewish philanthropist Moses Montefiore in which he stated: “...I consider the object to be perfectly obtainable. But, two things are indispensably necessary. Firstly, that the Jews will themselves take up the matter unanimously. Secondly, that the European powers will aid them in their views...”

Another popular figure in the Restoration Movement was George Gawler (1796-1869). He wrote a book in 1845 and in it, concerning the Jewish people, he states that they were to replenish the deserted towns and fields of Palestine.

As the 19th century drew to a close, many prominent men were involved in Christian Zionism. Men like the British industrialist, Edward Cazalet (1827-1883), Lawrence Oliphant (1829-1888), a most active restorationist, and the American, William E. Blackstone. Blackstone was once dubbed the American Christian “Father of Zion¬ism”. The most interesting Christian Zionist of the period was, however, William H. Hechler (1845-1931). Hechler, Chaplain of the British Embassy in Vienna, worked very closely with Theodore Herzl, considered to be the founder and father of the Jewish State. In fact, Hechler dedicated 30 years of his life to the great task of realizing the Zionist goal; the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine. Unfortunately he died only seventeen years before this became a living reality. However, he was privileged to attend the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897, at which the foundation stone of the restored Jewish State was laid.

The 20th century saw the Zionist dream come true as a direct fulfillment of God’s prophetic word. Sadly, some tragic events preceded this realization, the most terrible and evil of which was the Nazi Holocaust. Out of the ashes of six million Jews rose the restored Jewish State.

From the very beginning of the century, Christian Zionists were in the forefront of the struggle on behalf of the Jewish People. Their influence upon statesmen and men of power was great. It is no secret that this influence played a major role in producing the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which His Majesty’s Government viewed “with favor the establishment of a Jewish national home” in Palestine.

Time will not permit us to talk of famous Christian Zionists such as Charles Orde Wingate, John Hayes Holmes, Professor Reinhold Niebuhr and Corrie Ten Boom who, at great personal risk during the Second World War, rescued Jews from the hands of Nazism. All these believed that scripture promised the restoration of the Jewish State in Palestine. Most of them died in hope but some, like Corrie Ten Boom, lived to see the impossible come true.

Christian Zionism has a long history. Today the movement has swelled to embrace thousands. All of them see their task as being far from over, since the same forces that sought the destruction of Israel in decades past are still at work today. The survival and preservation of Israel is dependent upon the same kind of help and support that made her existence a reality. Christian Zionists believe that in seeking her peace they are in the long run working for the world’s peace (Isaiah 2:1-4).


Rev. Malcolm Hedding is the former Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

 

©2010 International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

 

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