SUDAN OFFICIALLY JOINS ABRAHAM ACCORDS: Sudan signed the Abraham Accords, officially agreeing to peace and normalization with Israel, on Wednesday.
Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari signed the document with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin present. Mnuchin continued to Israel for “important meetings,” as he characterized them on Twitter. Sudan became the third of four countries to agree to sign on to the Trump administration-brokered accords, following the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and before Morocco. Though Khartoum announced its willingness to join in late October, its government waited to proceed until the US removed Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism last month, following the overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir in early 2019. Sudan paid $335 million in compensation to American victims of terrorism and their families as part of the removal process. (JPost / VFI News)
IRAN CONFIRMS IT HAS BEGUN ENRICHING URANIUM TO 20% IN BREACH OF NUCLEAR PACT: Iran confirmed Tuesday that it was now enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, well beyond the threshold set by its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, sparking international concern.
The move at its underground Fordo facility was verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN watchdog. It was the most striking violation yet of Iranian commitments under the landmark deal, a process it started in 2019 in response to US President Donald Trump’s dramatic withdrawal from the accord the previous year. (TOI / VFI News)
ISRAEL-EUROPE TIES IMPROVING, WARMING UP TO ABRAHAM ACCORDS: The Foreign Ministry sees positive trends in Israel-Europe relations and has even won over some Abraham Accords skeptics.
“For years, European states connected developing relations with Israel to the conflict with the Palestinians,” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday in a video conference with Israeli ambassadors in Europe. “The ministry’s goal has been to reduce the tension and the connection and continue advancing bilateral dialogue while dealing with the Palestinian issue.” Improving ties with Europe has been Ashkenazi’s priority since entering office in May, and on that front, he has sought “direct, positive and constructive dialogue,” as opposed to “megaphone diplomacy,” he said. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAELI, GREEK GOVERNMENTS SET TO SIGN EXPANSIVE DEFENSE DEAL: Israel and Greece are set to sign a wide-ranging $1.68 billion security agreement that includes the procurement of 10 M-346 (Lavi) aircraft and the establishment of a flight school.
The Greek government approved the deal ahead of the signing, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday in a press release. The agreement, which will be signed by both defense ministries, includes the establishment and operation of a flight school for the Hellenic Air Force by Elbit Systems. It also includes the maintenance of T-6 aircraft (Efroni), as well as the provision of simulators, training and logistics support. The deal will span more than 20 years, the Defense Ministry said. (JPost / VFI News)
VACCINE ROLLOUT INSPIRES JEWS TO MOVE TO ISRAEL AND ISRAELIS TO RETURN: The coronavirus crisis has accomplished what decades of government ad campaigns did not do — it has brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis back from abroad and made the country more enticing as a home for American Jews.
As of July, more than 190,000 Israelis had returned to Israel from abroad, including more than 6,000 who had been away from the country for over half a year, according to data released by the Foreign Ministry. Many of those who returned early in the pandemic had been Israelis working in China, where the effects of the virus were first felt. Israeli embassies and consulates abroad have issued approximately 10,000 travel documents, including issuing new passports (often for children of Israelis born abroad who had not been in Israel yet) and renewing and extending passports for Israelis planning to come back since the beginning of the pandemic. (JPost / VFI News)
IDF SUICIDES DOWN IN 2020, REMAINS LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR TROOPS: Twenty-eight Israel Defense Forces soldiers died over the course of 2020, the second-lowest number in the country’s history, the military said Sunday.
Suicide remained the leading cause of death for soldiers, with at least nine service members having taken their own lives, according to IDF Manpower Directorate commander Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz. A tenth soldier may have also died by suicide, though the investigation into that case has not been completed, Almoz told reporters. (TOI / VFI News)
FRANCE GIVES $10M TO PALESTINIAN GROUP: The French government has allocated about $10 million to a Palestinian organization that is a leading promoter of the boycott Israel movement.
Promoting that boycott has been found illegal in France in several high-profile cases. The French Development Agency, or AFD, which focuses on “on climate, biodiversity, peace, education, urban development, health and governance,” last year gave an 8 million Euro grant to the NGO Development Center, or NDC, a Palestinian group that says it promotes good government practices in the West Bank. It was behind the 2008 “Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct,” a document that includes a rejection of “any normalization activities with the occupier [Israel], neither at the political-security nor the cultural or developmental levels.” (JPost / VFI News)
WOMEN FROM LOST TRIBE OF MENASHE TO MAKE ALIYAH FROM INDIA: This Sunday, January 3, four women and one girl from the Bnei Menashe community of northeastern India will make Aliyah to Israel.
Their Aliyah is the result of a government decision that was promoted by the Minister of Aliyah and Integration, MK Pnina Tameno-Shete, with the support of the Minister of the Interior, MK Aryeh Machluf Deri, and the Foreign Minister, MK Gabi Ashkenazi in cooperation with the Shavei Israel organization. The arrival of sisters Rut (28), Dina (21), and Avigail Lhanghal (13) from Manipur, along with Malka Zote (37), and Tiferet Renthlei (33) from Mizoram, follows that of the 252 Bnei Menashe who already made Aliyah to Israel two weeks ago. (INN / 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