A SEASON FOR STRENGTHENING TIES
We believe nations to be currently passing through a special season of grace in which God is offering an opening, an opportunity, for them to choose to come into, or be strengthened in an alignment of favor with His covenant people Israel. How long this period will last, we don’t know (next year, when Israel reaches its 70th birthday, may well be a turning point)—but we believe it is urgent that we pray for the leaders of our nations not to let it pass by! For those which do not embrace it, there will be an increased darkness, confusion and openness to global deception in years to come (not that God will not always have a remnant of His faithful ones burning within every nation!).
I. United States
We are grateful for the prayers of God’s people around the world during this past week. Prime Minister Netanyahu returned late Friday from a strongly encouraging summit with President Trump and other leaders in Washington. It was certainly the friendliest, most mutually-honoring, meeting between leaders of the two nations in a long-while. Mr. and Mrs. Netanyahu arrived at the White House, and were welcomed curbside by the President and his wife and an honor-guard. Many who watched the addresses and short press conference preceding their closed-door meetings, will have noted the genuinely friendly tone which seemed to flow between the two leaders, a sense of strong resolve to move forward closely as allies.
What certainly captured immediate attention and speculation around the world was the absence from either leader’s address of the phrase “two-state solution” as regards the Israeli-Palestinian situation. It is the first summit of this sort in over ten years at which this “mantra” has not in some way been verbalized as the acceptable goal towards which all sides are expected to be working. In response to questions at the end of their addresses, Mr. Trump expressed a desire for avoiding the use of “labels” in the matter, avowing himself open equally to a one-state or two-state solution, so long as both sides are in agreement. Mr. Netanyahu agreed, re-iterating his insistence that any final agreement will require Palestinian recognition of a Jewish State, that the Palestinian Arabs be demilitarized, and that Israel be responsible for ultimate security round its borders.
While this absence of reference to “two states” resulted in immediate sharp expressions of concern around the world, it was greeted with relief and enthusiasm by Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition back in Israel (some speculating whether it might not signal, in fact, the beginning of the end for the failed “Oslo” agreement of 20 years ago).
Although the content of their later conversations has not been divulged, Mr. Netanyahu opened his weekly Cabinet meeting this morning (Sunday) by stating that what has been a strong alliance (with the U.S.) has just “gotten stronger.” He said that he and Mr. Trump had agreed “to establish teams on many issues, even on issues we did not reach an agreement on in the past [including] the settlements in Judea and Samaria” (in recent years, it has been more common for Israel to be instructed if not severely reprimanded regarding that issue). The Prime Minister told his Cabinet that “at the end of the meeting with the president, he shook my hand and summed up the relationship between Israel and the U.S. as ‘a new day.’ It is a new day and a good day!”
Mr. and Mrs. Netanyahu departed Sunday afternoon for visits to Singapore and Australia. His desire is to strengthen the already strong ties existing between Israel and these two countries, hoping also to open new markets. This will be an historical trip, because it marks the first ever visit by a sitting Israeli prime minister to either of these two countries!
The Netanyahu’s land in Singapore Monday morning (this morning), where he will go to the presidential palace to meet with President Tony Tan Keng Yam, followed by a meeting with the Singaporean prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong (last April Mr. Loong himself became the first prime minister of his nation ever to visit Israel).
Israel and Singapore have a long and special relationship dating back to 1965, when that nation obtained its independence and the Israeli Defense Force assisted them in the development of their own armed forces. Today the military connection continues, with Singapore being among Israel’s primary arms markets. Economic, academic and cultural ties are also strong between the two countries.
We are aware of strong ties which have also been established between believers in Singapore and Israel during the past decade, with teams of Israeli-based teachers and worshippers invited to visit Singapore, and large groups of Singaporean believers traveling to pray and study with believers in Israel.
On Tuesday the Netanyahu’s will proceed on to Sydney, Australia, where they will remain through the Sabbath, meeting with Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, P.M. Malcolm Turnbull and other leaders, as well as Jewish communities in the land. It is seen as an important, timely visit (planned visits by both Israel’s President and Prime Minister have had to be canceled in recent years.).
Australia has special historical connections with Israel. It was exactly 100 years ago this coming October 31st that two mounted Australian divisions took part with New Zealanders in a legendary cavalry charge at Beer Sheba which opened the way into England’s conquest of Palestine from the Turkish (Ottoman) empire.
Today, Australia continues to hold a significant military presence in the Middle East. It is said to be the second largest foreign contributor here in the war against ISIS, and will soon take command of the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai. Israel considers Australia a close ally. Australia’s ambassador to Israel has called the Prime Minister’s upcoming extensive visit by Netanyahu “massively significant.”
We have learned of a special gathering of intercessors taking place in Sydney this week. Believers from many parts of Australia will be coming together for 72 hours (Feb. 20-23), during which, as a demonstration before God of their nation’s need for the “whole Word of God,” they will be reading aloud through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We find it significant that this just happens to be going on when Mr. Netanyahu arrives in Sydney for the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to Australia. (On the closing hour, a house of prayer in Jerusalem will be joining in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Australia by reading through the Book of Revelation).
* That leaders in nations around the world will respond to the Spirit’s call to bless Israel.
* That the (new day) between Israel and the United States will be marked by a genuine and God-blessed alliance, which will be to the blessing of both countries.
* That God will strengthen and bless Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife Sara as they visit Singapore and Australia this week. Pray for stamina (this is the third week in a row in which he has been obliged to travel abroad), and for a spirit of godly diplomacy to rest upon them on behalf of Israel.
* For Singapore and Australia—that they will forge stronger and healthier relations with Israel. That the United States, Singapore and Australia will move into God’s purposes for those nations during this hour; that they will be strengthened according to God’s promise (Genesis 12:3) by blessing Israel.
–Martin and Norma Sarvis
Notes on Singapore and Australia drawn from:
* “Netanyahu leaves Sunday for historic visits to Singapore, Australia”: The Jerusalem Post, 19 Feb 17; 13:53 IST
* “Netanyahu leaves for Singapore, Australia, seeking to ‘open new markets’: The Jerusalem Post, 19 Feb 17, 16:43 IST