“I will bless those who bless you…”

Genesis 12:3 NKJV

This weekend, many churches across the U.S. will celebrate Jewish Voice’s Bless Israel Sunday. I encourage you to take a little extra time to pray for Israel and her people. Maybe spend some time seeking a deeper understanding of the important place Israel holds in God’s heart. You can download a Scripture page, bookmarks and a prayer guide here: jewishvoice.org/bless.

In the news this past week, there are interesting developments regarding additional countries considering normalizing ties with Israel. Sudan appears close to a decision, after significant encouragement by the U.S. And, Saudi Arabia seems to be gradually warming up to the idea with positive reports in their media about the Israel-United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreement.  

On the coronavirus front, the lockdown has been successful at slowing down the number of new cases and the government has begun lifting some restrictions. There are some issues regarding areas labeled “red zones” due to high virus infection rates. Early this week, some ultra-Orthodox schools were operating in defiance of the law. 

As you read through these new stories, please keep the people of Israel in your prayers. Thank you. 

Sudan reported to be close to normalizing ties with Israel 

Sources close to the Sudanese leadership said the Sudanese Sovereignty Council had decided to go ahead with normalizing the country’s ties with Israel, according to i24NEWS, an Israeli international news channel. 

It’s been reported that the U.S. gave Sudan 24 hours to respond to an ultimatum demanding that Sudan recognize Israel and normalize ties in exchange for being removed from the U.S. blacklist of terrorism supporters. 

The source said that after heated discussion, the council decided to yield to U.S. pressure and forge formal ties with Israel. 

Earlier, i24NEWS reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudan Sovereignty Council Chair Abdel Fattah al-Burhan were supposed to meet in the near future to discuss the prospect of peace. 

Change in Saudi Arabia’s tone in media suggests a softening of view of Israel  

Even though Saudi Arabia has not yet commented in any official capacity on plans to normalize relations with Israel, their media is offering clues to Saudi’s thinking on the subject. 

Last month, the country’s largest English-language daily news platform, Arab News, published an editorial by the editor-in-chief welcoming the UAE’s new agreement with Israel. 

A senior gulf analyst at the International Crisis Group, Elham Fakhro, said the Saudi media is sending a clear signal about the country’s position on normalization with Israel following the UAE deal. 

“It reflects state tone and policy. Overwhelmingly, the tone of the media was celebratory of the agreement,” Fakhro said. 

This new stance is significant, not just for what it says about Saudi Arabia’s position. Saudi media has become more influential across the wider Arab world in recent years, according to The Washington Post.  

After the ascent of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2015, Saudi Arabia’s approach to Israel shifted. He has publicly acknowledged the rights of Israelis to live in their own land along with the Palestinians. His father was known for his pro-Palestinian view.  

Officially, Saudi Arabia has not changed their position. 

Lockdown deemed successful, some coronavirus restrictions lifted earlier this week 

Less than a month after all of Israel was put under lockdown again, the coronavirus cabinet ruled last week to begin lifting restrictions. 

Last Sunday, businesses that don’t serve customers, preschools for children ages newborn to six, nature preserves, national parks, beaches, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Temple Mount opened.  

In addition, restaurants are now able to serve to-go meals, the ban on how far a person can travel from their home has been lifted and people are allowed to visit the homes of extended family and friends. People are able to gather in groups of 10 inside and 20 outside. 

The decisions came after the Health Ministry showed that Israel had nearly met the goals set by the Health Ministry to open up the economy, according to The Jerusalem Post

“As of now, the lockdown has been a major success. We are seeing a decline in all data, a clear and consistent decline,” said Netanyahu. But, he added, “the exit needs to be gradual, responsible, careful and controlled.” 

This first stage will last two weeks. The second stage of the exit strategy – which includes non-medical treatments and alternative medicine and resumption of school for children in 1st-4th grade – will be discussed by the ministers if the infection rate remains stable. 

Jerusalem hospital to allow family visits of coronavirus patients to enhance care 

Family members of coronavirus patients at Hadassah-University Medical Center are now allowed to visit them for the first time since the outbreak in Israel, according to The Jerusalem Post. 

“The patient’s need for a familiar and calming family member, someone who can stay by the bed, can give comforting touches and of course listen and talk for a while, is clear and even necessary as a part of a healing and recovery process,” said Dr. Rely Alon, vice president of nursing at Hadassah. 

The decision to allow family members to visit was made after the success of a volunteer program in the hospital that allowed recovered coronavirus patients to enter wards and assist patients with the virus. The program has been operating for several months and has been a significant step in the recovery and general improvement of the patient’s well-being. 

Let us pray together 

Please pray with me for:  

  • Continued progress on potential normalization between Israel and both Sudan and Saudi Arabia  

  • The coronavirus infection rate to continue the current trend of going down in Israel 

  • Wisdom for the people of Israel as the government starts reopening and lifting coronavirus restrictions 

  • Healing and recovery for coronavirus patients and continued success of clinical trials to produce an effective vaccine 

  • Jewish people to recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah 

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