This week’s summit featured a historic handshake and the U.S. president showing off his ride to the leader of North Korea. But the impact of the first-ever U.S.-North Korea meeting could be far-reaching for Israel.

During his post-summit comments, President Trump said the meeting would not have taken place if not for Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old Jewish college student who died after 17 months of captivity in North Korea.

“Otto is someone who did not die in vain,” President Trump said. “Something happened from that day. It was a terrible thing, it was brutal, but a lot of people started to focus on what was going on — including North Korea.”

What Was Agreed?

After months of exchanging insults and threats, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) met in Singapore this week and signed an agreement that stated:

1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establishing new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to working toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

How This Could Impact Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to endorse the summit because of concerns a failed effort could embolden Iran to ramp up its nuclear ambitions to destroy Israel.

But he told the American Jewish Committee (AJC) that anyone who agrees with President Trump on denuclearizing North Korea should oppose a nuclear Iran. “Dangerous regimes should denuclearize,” he said. “I think the entire world, as we do, prays for the success of this effort.”

The Jerusalem Post reported reactions from the Knesset, Israel’s legislative body, with, “the Right calling Monday for the summit to lead to the denuclearization of Iran and the Left expressing hope that it could bring new hope to the peace process with the Palestinians.”

Jeff Seidel, founder of the Jewish Student Information Centers in Jerusalem, wrote in the Times of Israel that he saw potential economic benefits to Israel in the agreement. “One of the most significant side effects” of the economic sanctions on North Korea, he said, is “large scale famine” that is “exacerbated by an agricultural industry with sparse, poor-quality farmland and sub-optimal technology.”

Seidel hopes denuclearization will give North Korea extra spending money to bring its economy into the 21st century. That’s where Israel could help.

“With decades of experience with agriculture in less than optimum climates, Israel’s agricultural industry has exactly the know-how and equipment to revolutionize North Korea’s food production and potentially their exports as well,” he said. He also acknowledged that the likelihood of an Israel-North Korea economic cooperation was as small as the likelihood a few months ago of a Trump-Kim summit.

 

Rocky Israel–North Korea relations

Since the 1980s, North Korea has stood with Arab nations that refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The nation has shared nuclear expertise with Iran, Syria, Libya and Egypt. It fought with Egypt in the Yom Kippur War in the 1970s.

Iran warned North Korea not to trust an agreement made with President Trump, Reuters news agency reported. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, an Iranian government spokesperson, said, “We don’t know what type of person the North Korean leader is negotiating with. It is not clear that he would not cancel the agreement before returning home.”

 

Please be in prayer with us

As we watch this new relationship with North Korea unfold in the months ahead, please pray for:

  • The denuclearization of North Korea to remove threats to Israel from North Korea as well as Israel’s enemies in the Middle East

  • Wisdom and discernment for those negotiating denuclearization with North Korea, as well as for those involved in any verification process
  • For North Korea to recognize Israel’s right to exist, distancing itself from Israel’s enemies in the Middle East

 

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