“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
As we leave behind a tremendously difficult year, we look to 2021 with expectation and hope. While 2021 hasn't gotten off to the best start in the U.S., we know that as we move into this new year, we take God’s promises with us – He has a hope and a future for each one of us!
I am encouraged that coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out around the world, and that Israel is vaccinating people in record-breaking numbers. More than 10% of the population have already received the first dose! In addition, earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened with government leaders to discuss new lockdown steps in conjunction with the vaccination campaign to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
In other news, Israel’s leaders failed to pass a state budget and that means another election this March. New political parties are rising up in response.
And, in an unexpected turn, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is collaborating with Israel to eliminate the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). The UAE had previously funded the UNRWA.
Read more about these news stories right here. And, as always, we treasure your support of Israel and prayers for her people.
Israel Faces Fourth Election in Two Years After Government Is Dissolved
On December 21, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party, failed to pass the state budget. This means the Israeli Knesset (their Parliament) was automatically dissolved on December 23, the Middle East Monitor reported.
The deadline for budget approval was August 25, 2020 – 100 days after the government was formed. But it was postponed four months.
Netanyahu wanted a budget for year 2020, while Gantz wanted a two-year budget covering both 2020 and 2021 – which was agreed upon during negotiations between the two when they formed a coalition government in May 2020.
The May agreement came after three elections within a year produced a stalemate – Netanyahu’s Likud party won the most votes, but not enough parliamentary seats to form a coalition. Polls are currently projecting a similar deadlock, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The result of the dissolution is Israel will face a fourth election in less than two years. It is set to be held on March 23, 2021.
New Center-Left Party “the Israelis” Launches
Last week, Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv, announced a new center-left political party, The Israelis, to run in the election in March. He has recruited Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn as his second-in-command.
Huldai said he can’t “stand idly by” as Israel is led by a government that he said has eroded the country’s core values and threatens its democracy, according to The Times of Israel.
“We have grown accustomed to a crazy government. I will no longer stand idly by, I am here to announce a new party,” he said. Huldai also recounted his history as an Israel Defense Forces fighter pilot and an educator. He has been the mayor of Tel Aviv for the past 22 years.
“We can stop with the despair. I’m doing this for my children, and mainly for my grandchildren. Israel can and must be run differently,” Huldai said, declaring himself as the true alternative to Netanyahu.
Huldai’s party joins a crowded field of parties seeking the center-left vote.
Israel Passes One Million Vaccinations Mark in Effort to Vanquish Pandemic
Last Friday, Israel vaccinated the one millionth citizen against the coronavirus. That means more than a tenth of the country’s population have received the first of two doses, reported The Times of Israel.
“We are breaking all of the records. We brought millions of vaccines to the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. We are ahead of the entire world…”
Israel has far outpaced other countries with 11.55% of the population inoculated. The UK is at 1.39%, the U.S. at .84% and the world average is .13%, according to statistics from the Our World in Data website operated by Oxford University.
The Jewish State is currently in its third nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus.
Israel began vaccinations on December 20, focusing on healthcare workers and then the over 60 and at-risk populations.
Israel and the UAE Working Together to Eliminate UNRWA
Israel and the UAE are collaborating to get rid of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), reported the French newspaper Le Monde.
Emirati officials are considering a plan to gradually eliminate UNRWA without making this development conditional on a resolution of the refugee problem, according to the report.
“In doing so, Abu Dhabi would be rallying to a long-standing demand from Israel, which insists that the agency is obstructing peace by nurturing refugees in the dream of returning to the lands from which their parents were driven in 1948,” a tweet of a portion of the report said.
UNRWA was established 70 years ago to supply aid to Palestinian refugees and its mandate is renewed every three years.
In 2018 and 2019 the UAE, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were a major source of funding to UNRWA to offset the halting of funds by U.S. President Donald Trump, according to The Jerusalem Post.
Let Us Pray Together
Please pray with me for:
Wisdom for the leaders and people of Israel as the country faces another election this spring
Continued cooperation between Israel and the UAE
Protection for the people of Israel – another pandemic lockdown is being considered
Continued success in rolling out the coronavirus vaccine across Israel
Jewish people to recognize Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah