Weekly Update: “Normalization” – at what cost? 

editor - 21 August 2020

Last week, Israel, the US and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that Israel and UAE have reached a historical agreement to “normalize” relations.

The very fact that Israel needs to make agreements with its neighbours to “normalize relations” is in itself bizarre. Ever since its creation in 1948, the Arab world has refused to conduct normal diplomatic relations with Israel. They have required as the price of normalization full Israeli compliance with the demands of the PLO for the liberation of Palestine. Since 1967 the official Arab position has been: no recognition, no peace, no negotiations. It is incredible that the rest of the world has acceded to this demand, and participated in isolating Israel and placing pressure on it to reach agreement with the PLO on conditions that threaten Israel’s security and perhaps even its very existence.

It is a major achievement that Netanyahu has managed to reach a deal with an Arab state without making the major concessions that previous were assumed necessary. This is the first agreement with an Arab state that does not condition peace on full compliance with Palestinian demands to give up all of the so-called “occupied territories”. Although Israel has agreed to suspend application of Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, it has not agreed to abandon its sovereignty claims or even its intentions to assert them in the future.

There is no doubt this is a major development, that reflects and itself will instigate changing balance of power in the Middle East. It is to be hoped that it will lead to further “normalized” relations between Israel and the Arab world.

It remains to be seen, however, for how long the extension of Israeli sovereignty over (parts of) the West Bank can be postponed. Within Israel, there is considerable division on this issue.

In the meantime, the political situation in Israel has deteriorated, and there is a possibility the country may have new elections. This will lead to more division and uncertainty.

In this time of chaos and confusion, there is a great need for prayer and intercession by the church on behalf of Israel, the Jewish people, and all the people in the land.

Israel reaches historic agreement with UAE

The agreement to “normalize” relations between these two countries is the first such agreement since the historic peace treaties with Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994). It reflects what some commentators have called a “paradigm shift”. Other moderate Islamic states in the region, such as Oman, Morocco and possibly even Saudi Arabia, are expected to follow suit. Read more..

Read the joint statement here.

Seth Frantzman writes: In the wake of the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, there are rumors that several other states could be next to sign an agreement with Israel. While there are hurdles to normalizing relations with some states in the Middle East, there are others who view the UAE decision as a trial balloon and will react positively based on how the next weeks and months play out between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi. Read more..

According to former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren, the agreement “is more than just a stunning diplomatic breakthrough. It represents a fundamental shift in the paradigm of peace-making.” Read more..

“Exclusivity”- Video teaching by Johannes Gerloff

Episode 34 in the series of teachings by Israeli-based Bible teacher and journalist Johannes Gerloff:The vision of unity of the three “Abrahamic” monotheistic religions seems to have been the original idea of Abraham himself. “Let Yishma’el live before you,” Abraham asks God. But God has different ideas and a different vision. And he made this point already 4000 years ago, not to be misunderstood.


Scripture for the week: Ezekiel 38

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince ofMeshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords.Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you.
“‘Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.
10 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. 11 You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. 12 I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” 13 Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?”’
14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? 15 You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. 16 You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
17 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You are the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel. At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. 18 This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. 19 In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 20 The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. 21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him.23 And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’


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