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The first time in 12 years…

June 16, 2021

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.”
Exodus 15:13 (NIV)

Shalom, my friend.

I want you to know how grateful I am for you and for your love and compassion for Israel and the Jewish people. Your partnership is a great encouragement to me, today and every day.

As we look at the significant news from Israel this week – the country has a new prime minister for the first time 12 years – let us take this opportunity to lift Naftali Bennett, the new PM, and the other leaders of Israel up to the Lord. Please join me in praying for God to guide each person, that they would exercise great wisdom and discernment. And also for a spirit of cooperation – that they would work together for what is best for Israel and her people.

As you’ll see, ongoing prayer is needed concerning both Iran and threats from Hamas. Again, thank you for standing with Israel and the Jewish people.

Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is sworn in

Sunday night Israel’s Knesset (parliament) voted to approve the new government formed by Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid. This ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s record-breaking 12-year term as prime minister (PM).

The new government passed with 60 MKs (members of the Knesset) supporting it and 59 opposing it, reported The Jerusalem Post.

Bennett was sworn in as Israel’s 13th prime minister and Lapid as the 14th. Lapid became Israel’s Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister. He is slated to become the PM in 2023 after Bennett serves two years.

Bennett convened the government for its first meeting. In his first speech, the new PM called on all sides to display restraint. Bennett said his government would prevent the nuclearization of Iran and would not allow rocket fire on Israeli citizens from the Gaza Strip. He also praised outgoing PM Netanyahu for his hard work for Israel over the years.

President Biden offers congratulations to Israel’s new prime minister

World leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, congratulated Naftali Bennett, the new prime minister of Israel, on Sunday night.

“On behalf of the American people, I congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and all the members of the new Israeli cabinet,” Biden said in a statement, according to The Times of Israel. “I look forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations.”

Biden said that “Israel has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security.”

The president added that his administration “is fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability and peace for Israelis, Palestinians and people throughout the broader region.”

Bennett responded on Twitter: “Thank you, Mr. President! I look forward to working with you to strengthen the ties between our two nations.”

Biden and Bennett spoke on the phone later in the evening. The new prime minister thanked Biden for his long-standing commitment to Israel and its security, including during Operation Guardian of the Walls, the most recent escalation between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip, reported The Jerusalem Post.

Tensions Rising Again Between Hamas and Israel

On Tuesday, in defiance of a warning from Hamas, Israel held the postponed Flag March through Jerusalem's Old City. The original march came to an end on May 10 because of rocket fire from Hamas at Jerusalem. That began 11 days of intensive fighting between Israel and terror groups in Gaza.

While Hamas didn't fire rockets at Israel, incendiary balloons launched from Gaza over two days have set 26 fires around the Eshkol region in Southern Israel. According to The Times of Israel, more than 30 acres of land containing orchards and wheat fields were destroyed.

In response, the IDF launched several air strikes on buildings in Gaza belonging to Hamas and other terror groups. These were the first airstrikes of the new government and backed up Prime Minster Bennett's past statements that the IDF would react strongly to arson attacks.

Iran nuclear talks resume with round six

On Saturday, a sixth round of indirect talks between Iran and the U.S. began regarding reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

U.S. President Biden has shown a willingness to rejoin the deal under terms that would see the U.S. scale back sanctions and Iran return to limiting its nuclear activity.

The talks involve the remaining parties to the deal – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and the European Union (EU) and are taking place in a hotel in Vienna. The U.S. delegation is in a hotel across the street because Iran has refused face-to-face meetings, according to The Jerusalem Post.

“We are making progress but the negotiations are intense and a number of issues (remain), including on how steps are to be implemented,” an EU spokesman said, adding that the goal was “to find ways to get very close to a final agreement in the coming days.”

U.S. says “hundreds of sanctions will remain in place”

During meetings with U.S. lawmakers on June 8, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement, The Jerusalem Post reported. 

He said, “we don’t know at this stage whether Iran is willing and able to do what it would need to do to come back into compliance.”

Blinken continued, “I would anticipate that even in the event of a return to compliance with the JCPOA, hundreds of sanctions will remain in place, including sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.”

Let us pray together

Please pray with me for: 

  • A peaceful transition for Israel’s new government and God-given wisdom for Israel’s leaders, especially new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
  • The ceasefire to hold and peace to continue throughout Israel
  • Protection for Israel and her people from Iran, Hamas and other terror groups
  • God’s provision and direction concerning the JCPOA nuclear deal negotiations between the U.S. and Iran
  • Jewish people to recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah

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