Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Ps. 62:8
NEW REPORT: 800,000 JEWS RESIDE IN JUDEA & SAMARIA: A new population report of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria was released last week. The report finds there are 463,353 Jews living in Judea and Samaria. The precise number of Jews residing in the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem has not been officially ascertained but is predicted to be between 325,000-350,000, thus making the total figure of Jews living the areas liberated in 1967 about 800,000. The numbers in the report confirm the operating assumption of the teams working on Trump’s newly released peace deal, that the Israeli presence in Judea & Samaria is irreversible, and that, unlike previous US plans for peace, no Jewish homes will be uprooted as part of the current proposal. The growth rate of the “settlement population” is well ahead of the general population, driven in part by the relatively affordable housing prices found in Judea and Samaria, as well as the higher birthrate among their many religious families. The report includes the breakdown of every town in Judea and Samaria and shows population growth as compared to last year and 5 years ago. (VFI News)
PEACE PLAN TRIGGERS NEW TENSION ON ISRAEL’S SOUTHERN BORDER: Israel’s air force staged overnight attacks against targets in the Gaza Strip between Thursday and Friday of last week. The military action was in response to three rockets that were launched from the Palestinian enclave. Two of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system. The third landed in an open area. Again, on Saturday night 1 Feb. 2020 Palestinian terrorists fired at least one rocket at Israeli communities east of the Gaza Strip. There were no reports of deaths or injuries in the exchange of fire. Rocket launches against Israel had abated somewhat since a heated exchange of fire followed Israel’s targeted killing of an Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip in Nov. 2019. Yet there has been an upsurge of balloon-borne explosive devices launched into Israel. Palestinians terrorist factions have called for increased hostility against Israel in response to Donald Trump’s peace plan released last week, which they see as biased in favor of the Jewish state. (VFI News)
ARAB LEADERS GROW WEARY OF PALESTINIAN ATTITUDE: Following last week’s unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East, much of the world is mulling the pros and cons of the “Deal of the Century” and wondering if it can bear fruit in the troubled Middle East region. Many world government officials have responded with openness to the initiative, others including leaders in Iran, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and the US Democratic Party have deemed it to be everything from a political scam to outright theft of what they claim is due to the Palestinian people. For the most part, Palestinians on the street have displayed a great deal of apathy to Trump’s proposal. In PA and Hamas leadership circles the response to the initiative has been one of fury. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday 1 Feb. 2020 said he is cutting all security ties with Israel and the US in reaction to the plan.
Meanwhile, revealing a shift in attitude towards the Jewish state, many officials in Arab capitals have been frustrated by the habitual refusal on the part of Palestinian leaders to compromise their demands on Israel for a return to the peace table. The US and Israel for some time have courted officials from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, and other nations in the region hoping to overcome political impasses. As a result, trade and diplomatic ties are strengthening. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both urged Palestinian chiefs to consider the US plan as a basis for new talks with Israel. “It’s the first time, I think since the start of the conflict that the Arab position has not been a replica of the Palestinian position,” said David Makovsky, director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “That speaks to a wider sense of regional priorities that Arab countries are developing.” The modified tone in Arab capitals reflects the shifting relationships in the region, where nations officially at war with Israel are strengthening ties with its companies and leading figures. (VFI News)
ISRAEL SUSPENDS BEIJING FLIGHTS DUE TO CORONAVIRUS: El Al Israel Airlines will not be flying to China until further notice because of the outbreak of coronavirus that continues to spread in China and further afield. Airline officials made the announcement on Thur. 30 Jan. 2020. El Al normally operates three flights a week from Tel Aviv to Beijing and back. That same day, Health Minister Yaakov Litzman announced that Israel had also banned flights from China from entering the country due to the spreading of the coronavirus. With over 12,000 cases and more than 260 fatalities reported as of the weekend, numerous world airlines have canceled China flights, including British Airways, United, American, Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, Air India, Lufthansa, and Finnair. In a further measure to prevent the spread of the virus locally, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Friday 31 Jan. 2020 ordered the closure of all land and border crossings to those who are not citizens and residents of Israel who recently spent time in China. Residents returning from China have been instructed to stay in their homes for two weeks. The World Health Organization declared days ago that the coronavirus epidemic in China now constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. The declaration of a global emergency triggers recommendations to all countries aimed at preventing or reducing the cross-border spread of disease. (VFI News)
NIGHTMARE LOCUST SWARMS DEVOURING EAST AFRICA CROPS: A plague of locusts with swarms up to 40 miles wide is destroying crops and livestock pastureland across east Africa. The condition threatens to trigger a humanitarian crisis, the UN has warned. The horde of 360 billion insects has laid waste to farmland across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, posing an unprecedented threat to food security. It is the worst to hit Kenya for 70 years, and the worst to affect Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years. The next generation of desert locusts, a million of which can eat enough food for 35,000 people in just one day is expected to swarm in April 2020. The locust information service describes the current situation as ‘extremely alarming’ and likely to be further exacerbated by new infestations. When rains arrive in March 2020 and bring fresh vegetation across much of the region, the numbers of the fast-breeding locusts could grow 500 times before drier weather in June curbs their spread, the UN says. (VFI News)
400 ETHIOPIANS SET TO REJOIN FAMILIES IN ISRAEL: Ethiopians representing 60 families hope to be brought to Israel before 2 March 2020. The groups are part of the Falash Mura community, who claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago under duress but now seek a return to Judaism. Some 8,000 Falash Mura in Ethiopia are awaiting permission to immigrate to the Jewish state, most of whom have relatives in Israel. A Cabinet resolution in 2015 committed to bringing all 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel by 2020, but not enough funds have been allocated in successive budgets to obtain that goal. In October 2018, the Cabinet approved a plan for the immigration of 1,000 candidates in the following year who met the criterion of having first-degree relatives in Israel, but in 2019 only about 600 arrived. Approximately 140,000 Ethiopians live in Israel. (VFI News)
US READY TO SUPPLY BELARUS WITH 100% OF GAS, OIL: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday 1 Feb. 2020 that the United States is willing and able to provide Belarus with 100% of its oil and gas needs, taking aim at Russia which recently cut off supplies. Pompeo, the first secretary of state to visit Belarus in 26 years, arrived in Minsk last week amid new tensions between Minsk and Moscow over energy. In a meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko, Pompeo said, “The United States wants to help Belarus build its own sovereign country. Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100% of the oil you need at competitive prices. We’re the biggest energy producer in the world and all you have to do is call us.” Belarus fears Russia is trying to absorb it and last month began purchasing gas from Norway after Russian supplies were cut off. Pompeo said the US wants to help fill the vacuum and will continue to boost staffing at its embassy in Minsk, which was severely reduced 12 years ago when the US imposed significant sanctions on the country over human rights abuses. The two countries agreed in September 2019 to exchange ambassadors for the first time since 2008. Pompeo said a new US ambassador would be named soon. (Times of Israel)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by JNN writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff