Today is the day Israelis and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been awaiting. Netanyahu is in Washington DC to meet in person with President Trump. After enduring 8 long years of anti-Israel policy from the former administration, Israelis see this as a chance to re-engage diplomatically with hopes of a better outcome.
However, though Trump made bold statements during his campaign regarding moving the embassy to Jerusalem and siding with Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians, he seems to be backing off all he promised. There is concern now that Trump will insist on rekindling peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and that pressure may continue to be applied for Israel to make significant concessions to a people group with proven desires to drive Israel from its land.
In yesterday’s post, I suggested a set of issues that we would do well to keep an eye on. Take a look at those issues, and please commit to pray for the US and Israeli officials who are hammering out plans and strategy today. May God grant them supernatural wisdom.
Meanwhile, in the midst of preparations for today’s meeting, other significant news has arisen from the Middle East.
First, Hamas has a new leader: Yahya Sinwar. The 55-year-old Sinwar is a known terrorist (on the US no fly list), who spent many years in an Israeli prison for various offenses relative to Israeli security. He was sentenced to 4 life sentences, but was released in a prisoner swap that returned Israeli hostage, Gilad Schalit, in 2011.
MK Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet director, said Israel should be ready for a confrontation with Hamas earlier than expected….“The message that we should understand here is that we should strengthen our abilities to destroy Hamas’s infrastructures in Gaza because they might use them sooner than we thought,” Dichter said.
Shaul Mishal added that Sinwar will likely be a new test for Israel’s political and military leaders. “This man can put Israel to the test in a way that other Hamas leaders have not – he may be much more willing to check where Israel’s redlines are and resort to violence,” Mishal stated.
~Jerusalem Post, online 2/13/2017
Sinwar replaces Ismail Haniyeh, who is expected to take the position of general Hamas leader in place of Khaled Mashal.
Secondly, according to Reuters, Human Rights Watch released a report with irrefutable evidence that Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons on citizens of Aleppo during the regime’s last big push to take back Aleppo from rebels forces. The report states, in part:
Government helicopters dropped chlorine bombs “in residential areas in Aleppo on at least eight occasions between November 17 and December 13, 2016.”
While Hamas is firmly entrenched in the Gaza Strip (and less so, but still significantly present in the West Bank), the Assad regime is battling it out in Syria with other rogue regimes (including ISIS and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard) just across Israel’s northern border.
This is the neighborhood in which Israelis live. While today’s summit between President Trump and PM Netanyahu will touch on these threats, there are so many other vital issues on the agenda as well. Again, I urge you to please pray for today’s meeting at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Those are vital to Israel’s security, and I pray the US stands strong with our key Middle East ally. Will you join me in prayer today?
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace! (Hebrews 4:16) Meet you in the throne room!