“When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” —Proverbs 16:7
ABBAS RENOUNCES AGREEMENTS WITH ISRAEL AND US OVER ANNEXATION PLANS: Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday declared an end to the agreements and understandings signed with Israel and the United States in response to Israel’s plans to annex Judea and Samaria.
“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones,” Abbas declared at an emergency meeting in Ramallah, according to the Wafa news agency. He went on to place blame upon the current US administration for, “…the oppression befalling the Palestinian people,” and went on to reaffirm a series of commitments—including to “a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the two-state solution,” and “fighting international terrorism regardless of its shape or source.” The new coalition agreement between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz stipulates that the government can apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria this coming July. (VFI News)
STUDY RESULTS: 70% OF CORONAVIRUS CASES IN ISRAEL STARTED IN THE US: More than 70% of coronavirus patients in Israel were infected by a strain that originated in the United States, according to a new study published Monday by Tel Aviv University.
“Those who returned from the US created transmission chains,” Dr. Adi Stern of the School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology at TAU’s George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. Flights from Europe and other parts of the world began to be halted between February 26 and March 4 – but not from the US. Only beginning on March 9 did Israel block its borders to anyone who came from abroad who couldn’t complete 14 days of quarantine in Israel. “There was this gap in policy, and this gap allowed people to return from the US who thought that they could go wherever they wanted, so they probably spread the virus that way,” Stern said. Stern noted another important finding, that there was “a very clear reduction in transmission as of March 20, which is when the lockdown was implemented in Israel—which means the social distancing measures worked… The lockdown saved lives.” (J. Post/VFI News)
AMB RON DERMER: ANNEX JUDEA, SAMARIA & JORDAN VALLEY NOW, IN CASE TRUMP LOSES: Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer is urging the government to apply sovereignty in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley quickly, due to the possibility of Donald Trump losing the upcoming US Presidential election.
Speaking in a closed briefing in Washington DC, Dermer said that “we must move forward with the annexation now because we don’t know what will happen in the US presidential election in November—Biden may win. Now there is a window of opportunity and so we should do it now.” “There is a one-time opportunity to promote annexation as long as Trump is there,” Dermer went on to say. Dermer has been talking to senior US government officials in recent weeks to promote a swift application of Israeli sovereignty over territories liberated during the Six-Day War. Dermer was reported to have said that the next administration would have to live with the facts on the ground established during the Trump Administration. (VFI News)
25 OF 27 EU MEMBER STATES CONDEMN ANNEXATION PLANS, HUNGARY & AUSTRIA STAND IN DISSENT: On Monday night, High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell released the third of a series of statements criticizing Israel’s annexation plans. With the support of 25 out of 27 EU states, Borrell said: “We strongly urge Israel to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any occupied Palestinian territory and would be, as such, contrary to International Law.”
Hungary and Austria, the sole dissenters in the EU, stood in opposition on Wednesday to Borrell’s criticism. A Hungarian diplomatic source said that no one knows if Israel will actually apply its laws to parts of the West Bank, which is why his country called to exercise caution in its messages toward Israel and focus on back-channel diplomacy rather than broadcasting public statements. French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Rivière warned Israel that any such move “would be detrimental to Israel’s role in the world, to its integration in its regional environment, as well as to Israel’s relationships with its partners,” he said. (J. Post / VFI News)
CONGRESSWOMAN RASHIDA TLAIB UNDER FIRE FOR “NAKBA DAY” TWEET: Last Friday, the Michigan Democrat Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tweeted on the day after the 72nd anniversary of the establishment of Israel:
“Today, Palestinians around the world commemorate the Nakba (النكبة), Arabic for ‘catastrophe’ recognizing the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestine. ~530 Palestinian neighborhoods were uprooted + destroyed +750,000 Palestinians became refugees,” Tlaib tweeted. In a statement, Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Conference of Jewish Affairs called her words “despicable” adding that, “The ethnic cleansing going on today in the Middle East and northern Africa is being done mostly by Arab Muslim leaders and jihadists who are systematically purging these areas of age-old Christian communities, indigenous tribes, and remnants of the few Jews remaining in these areas.” For years, anti-Israel activists have marked May 15th – the day after the anniversary of Israel’s establishment – as a day of mourning, dubbed the “Nakba Day.” Last year, Tlaib was barred from entering Israel, over her vocal support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. (Arutz Sheva / VFI News)
NETANYAHU KHAMENEI TRADE THREATS AS TENSIONS RISE OVER ANTISEMITIC TWEET: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to threats from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to which his country is planning a “final solution” against Israel.
“Khamenei’s threats to implement the “Final Solution” against Israel are reminiscent of the Nazi “Final Solution” plan for the destruction of the Jewish people. He must know that any regime that threatens Israel with extermination will find itself in similar danger,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also addressed the Iranian Supreme Leader’s threat, saying, “Khamenei’s crazy and anti-Semitic rhetoric does not represent the tolerance of the Iranian people.” Yesterday, Khamenei posted a tweet which included an illustration of gunmen dancing on the Temple Mount, behind him a portrait of himself, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini. The poster reads: “Palestine will be free. The final solution. Resistance is referendum.” (VFI News)
IDF CHIEF DEFENDS CYBER-ATTACK ON IRANIAN PORT TERMINAL: The Washington Post reported on Monday that Israel is believed to be behind a recent cyber-attack on the shipping traffic at Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port terminal. Computers that regulate the flow of vessels, trucks and goods all crashed at once, creating massive backups on waterways and roads leading to the facility.
Speaking at an inauguration ceremony Tuesday evening, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said, “We will continue to use a variety of military tools and unique combat methods to hit the enemy.” Kochavi added that the IDF has the moral obligation to protect Israeli citizens from the threats surrounding the Jewish State. “When the Israeli home front is threatened by thousands of missiles and rockets, we will not hesitate to attack with force to thwart the threats. While we do everything we can to avoid civilian casualties, the enemy makes every effort to harm civilians.” ”Unlike the enemy, we will act both aggressively and in accordance with our values, and will base our action on intelligence and operational need. Dozens of attacks, even in recent times, have already demonstrated the superiority of the IDF’s intelligence and firepower,” Kochavi added. (VFI News)
JERUSALEM: THE NEW CAPITAL OF THE START-UP NATION: Start Up Nation Central’s “Finder” revealed that Jerusalem may be the new capital of the “start-up nation,” thanks to its growing technology ecosystem, which includes 405 companies, 22 exits, and total investments worth $1.6B—$233.5M just from the past year.
According to Start Up Nation Central’s Finder, the Israeli innovation tracking platform, the list of active companies in Jerusalem has grown 102% since 2012, to a total of 405 in the Ecosystem. In 2019 alone, $233.5M was invested in Jerusalem-based companies and start-ups, a 21% increase from the year prior. The city prides itself on 22 tech exits and total investments worth $1.6B. Out of these 405 companies, two fields of expertise are more prominent than others: artificial intelligence, which has seen a 166% increase—and life sciences, which is currently providing a massive range of innovative solutions for COVID-19. (VFI News)
FIRST-EVER DIRECT FLIGHT FROM ABU DHABI LANDS IN ISRAEL: An Etihad Airlines flight, direct from Abu Dhabi, landed in Israel for the first time on Tuesday night, the Foreign Ministry confirmed.
A cargo flight for the United Arab Emirates flag carrier, it headed to Israel with humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Among the aid provided was 14 tons of medical supplies, including personal protective equipment and 10 ventilators. This aid is in line with the United Nations COVID-19 Response Plan for the occupied Palestinian territory, and the plan supports the efforts led by the Government of Palestine to contain the pandemic and mitigate its impact. Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, thanked the government and people of the UAE for their continued support to the Palestinian people. “Global solidarity is in the interest of everyone. Today we are facing the most challenging crisis since the Second World War. We can get through it only by working together.” (J. Post/VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff