“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves in tender compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12 (TLV)
Already we are in a new month of this new year. While we hold out hope for change, we still face many of the same challenges and ongoing tensions.
That’s why I want us to focus on what we can do to bring about change. Let’s live out our faith as God’s people, knowing we are deeply and dearly loved by our Creator. We can bring change by showing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Just think what a different world this can be if we take these steps!
Let’s start with some very good news – another Muslim-majority nation has normalized relations with Israel. And Kosovo has taken a bold additional step – they have agreed to open their embassy in Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel’s capital! This is only the third nation to do so – joining the United States and Guatemala – and the first Islamic country.
Once again, Iran is in the news concerning their lack of compliance to the JCPOA nuclear deal, and according to the new U.S. Secretary of State, Iran could have the materials to build a nuclear weapon in a matter of months – or even weeks.
The Biden administration has also shared initial plans regarding Israel and Palestine.
As you read through these news stories, please continue to lift Israel and the Jewish people in prayer. Thank you.
Muslim-Majority Kosovo Formally Establishes Ties With Israel
With Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla, Kosovo’s foreign minister, in Pristina and Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, in Jerusalem, a joint declaration establishing ties between the two countries was signed via a Zoom ceremony.
Kosovo also plans to open an embassy in Jerusalem – recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, The Times of Israel reported.
“The establishment of relations between Israel and Kosovo is an important and moving historical step that reflects the many changes the region has experienced in recent months,” Ashkenazi said. “Today, Kosovo officially joins the circle of countries that aspire to peace and stability and recognize Israel, and Jerusalem as its capital.”
Haradinaj-Stublla said, “Recognition by Israel is one of the greatest achievements for Kosovo, coming at a key moment for us, thanks to the United States of America, our common and eternal ally,” she said.
The decision to establish ties between Muslim-majority Kosovo and Israel occurred last September at a summit of Kosovo-Serbia leaders at the White House with then-President Donald Trump.
Moroccan Delegation Expected to Visit Israel by End of February
As long as COVID-19 infection rates in Israel do not rise, a Moroccan delegation will visit Israel by the end of February and an Israeli one will visit the North African nation, according to The Jerusalem Post.
This was agreed upon during a conversation last week between Israel’s National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.
Ben-Shabbat, who was born to Moroccan-Jewish immigrants, will lead the Israeli delegation.
The two officials agreed to create several work groups to discuss mutual cooperation concerning water, energy, investments and tourism. Because of the pandemic, the work groups will meet online for now.
Iran could produce enough material to build nuclear weapon in “a matter of weeks” says U.S. Secretary of State
According to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Iran is currently months away from being able to produce enough material to build a nuclear weapon. But, he said, that timeframe could be reduced to “a matter of weeks” if Tehran further violates restrictions it agreed to under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, reported The Times of Israel.
The Biden administration intends to return to the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran resumes compliance, Blinken said in an interview with NBC News.
Iran rejected any new negotiations or changes to the participants in the nuclear deal on Sunday after France’s president said new talks should include Saudi Arabia, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The JCPOA is a nuclear deal completed by Iran and six major powers that committed Iran to restricting its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief from the U.S. and others.
Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain want to discourage the Biden administration from returning to the Iran nuclear agreement in its original form, believing it is not stringent enough. The Biden administration has pledged to consult with Israel and its other Middle East allies before making decisions regarding Iran.
Biden Administration Announces Restoration of Relations With Palestinians
Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced it is restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, the Associated Press reported.
But, unlike his predecessors, Biden prefers pushing incremental steps that both Israel and Palestine can take while also discouraging unilateral moves that would dissolve whatever confidence remains between the sides.
Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills said, “Under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.”
But U.S. efforts to build trust with both parties are not just an end in itself. They still appear connected to the broader goal of a resolution to the conflict, no matter how far off it might be, The Times of Israel reported.
Mills stressed that “the U.S. will maintain its steadfast support for Israel” – opposing one-sided resolutions and other actions in international bodies that unfairly single out Israel and promoting Israel’s standing and participation at the U.N. and other international organizations.
The Biden administration supports the Abraham Accords and will urge other countries to establish ties with Israel, but Mills said it “is not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
“It is the hope of the United States that normalization can proceed in a way that unlocks new possibilities to advance a two-state solution,” Mills added.
Let Us Pray Together
Please pray with me for:
- More Muslim-majority countries like Kosovo to establish formal ties with Israel and continued progress with Islamic nations like Morocco that have signed the Abraham Accords
- President Biden and his administration to make wise decisions regarding Israel – especially in regard to the Palestinians and Iran
- Continue improvement in the number of coronavirus cases in Israel
- Continued success in rolling out coronavirus vaccines in Israel and around the world
- Jewish people to recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah