“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver.”

Proverbs 16:16 TLV

When I read the news stories this week related to Israel, yet again I believe wisdom is what is needed – whether it be about the details of peace agreements or how to maintain the downward trend of coronavirus infections.

Right now, the next steps in the historic treaty between Israel and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are happening. Israel’s cabinet approved the treaty and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed spoke on the phone and have agreed to meet in person soon. 

In addition, an Israeli delegation is expected to visit Bahrain on Sunday, along with officials from the U.S. This will be the first visit since the declaration of peace was signed by both countries in September at the White House. 

The finer details of these diplomatic relationships are becoming more prevalent in the news – including whether the U.S. will agree to sell multiple F-35 stealth fighter jets to the UAE. And Qatar, another country in the Middle East, has formally requested the ability to purchase F-35 jets from the U.S., but details of this request have not been confirmed.  

Again this week, there is good news regarding the coronavirus. Israel continues to see a sharp decline in the infection rate. The lockdown has had a noticeable impact. This is very welcome news! Also, Israel’s Sheba Medical Center is actively recruiting volunteers for another clinical trial. 

These news stories will fill in the details for you. 

Qatar pursues purchase of F-35 fighter jets from U.S., UAE also seeking deal 

A formal request has been submitted by the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar to the United States to buy F-35 fighter jets, three people familiar with the deal said, according to Reuters. If pursued, the deal could strain U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia and Israel. 

Currently, Qatar hosts the largest U.S. military facility in the Middle East and is home to 8,000 U.S. service members and Department of Defense civilian employees. 

In August, the U.S. agreed to consider giving the UAE approval to buy F-35s in a side deal to the Abraham Accord which normalized diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel.  

Israel opposes this sale to the UAE and would likely be just as resistant to a sale to Qatar. The concern is these sales of F-35s would undercut Israel’s military advantage in the Middle East. 

Even though both Qatar and UAE are U.S. allies, any F-35 deals must satisfy a decades-old agreement with Israel that states any U.S. weapons sold to the region must not impair Israel’s “qualitative military edge,” guaranteeing U.S. weapons furnished to Israel are “superior in capability” to those sold to its neighbors. 

In addition, Saudi Arabia, Washington’s most powerful and closest partner among the Gulf Arab states, is also likely to oppose the U.S. selling F-35s to Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt remain locked in a three-year standoff with Qatar that the Trump administration has tried to end, but without success. 

Positive coronavirus tests hit lowest rate since August 

On Monday, Israel’s Health Ministry said fewer than 8% of coronavirus tests came back positive. The rate had hovered around 12-13% in recent weeks.  

Israel has been under a nationwide lockdown for the past three weeks in an effort to contain the intense second wave of the pandemic. At one point, daily cases reached 9,000. It appears that transmission rates are continuing to decline. 

As Israel entered this second lockdown last month, Netanyahu acknowledged that his government reopened parts of the economy too quickly after the first lockdown, according to The Times of Israel

A report issued over the weekend said the Health Ministry’s plan to gradually ease the national lockdown will last at least four months and depend on decreasing daily case numbers. 

Government officials are not in agreement on the exit plan from this second lockdown.  

Volunteers being recruited for Israeli COVID-19 vaccine trial 

Israel’s Sheba Medical Center is actively recruiting volunteers to take part in the Phase 1/2 clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research. 

The details were in an email received by The Jerusalem Post and stated that individuals over 18 who have not had the coronavirus in the past or who don’t have it at the time of their enrollment will be eligible for the study. 

Some volunteers will receive the vaccine and others will be assigned to a control group and receive a placebo. 

“The chance of getting the vaccine is three times greater than the chance of getting the placebo,” the email said. 

Let us pray together 

Please pray with me for:  

  • Wisdom for all involved in the decisions regarding the potential sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the UAE and Qatar 

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

  • Wisdom for Israel’s leaders regarding coronavirus restrictions and an exit plan from the lockdown 

  • 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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