The Word:  Pointless! Pointless! — says Kohelet — Utterly meaningless! Nothing matters!  What does a person gain from all his labour at which he toils under the sun?  Generations come, generations go, but the earth remains forever…  Everything is wearisome, more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, the ear not filled up with hearing.  What has been is what will be, what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1: 2-4, 8 &9 CJB)

"In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land." (Joel 3: 1-2)

*      Pointers for prayer:  One of the roles of Christian Friends of Israel is to be pro-active rather than re-active.  As I mentioned in a recent report, world events appear to be getting out of control; the activity to attempt to remove the Jewish people from their Land – and specifically Jerusalem, Israel’s capital – has increased dramatically over the past 10 years – and the recent United Nations vote, along with the global conference on January 15, 2017 where representatives from 70 different countries will gather in Paris, France, will only bring further trouble to the Jewish State.  There is so much to pray into here.  However, as I ended 2016, so I begin 2017 with the same challenge: I really believe we all need to seek the Lord’s face, quieten our hearts, and enable the Spirit of the Lord to rest upon each of us; and that the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord might enable us to truly know how we pray and act regarding these complex and difficult issues, and how we can inform and activate the church.  Without doubt, 2017 will bring great challenges.  With Jerusalem celebrating her 50th anniversary of reunification, and the Belfour 100, we can only wonder at what this year will bring. 

*      Do also pray that the Lord would strengthen and anoint afresh all the CFI Staff, Trustees, Area Reps, Church Links, Volunteers, Prayer Warriors and supporters both here in the UK, along with the CFI Jerusalem office and team, and the many International Reps.   Pray God’s favour and blessings upon each of us, as we continue to try to be faithful to our calling.

2017… Nothing new under the sun!     It’s not how I imagined I would start my first report of 2017.  It seems such a mournful, depressing welcome to 2017 by quoting the first few verses from Ecclesiastes chapter 1.  I may as well have started by quoting the famous lines from Scrooge when his nephew annoys him so much that old Scrooge yells, “If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should.” (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol).  I do love the story of dear old Scrooge.  But what people forget is that the story - A Christmas Carol - is of course all about redemption – yet what will it take to redeem our nations as they play with fire?

However I do struggle with some of the festive joys over the Chanukah/Christmas period. Just imagine… while the western world were spending billions on turkey, chocolates and presents, many in the ‘third world’ have no clean water to drink and are starving.  This was brought home to me on December 23, as I was shopping in a supermarket early morning and it appeared that I’d entered some fictitious world as I became embroiled in a war of shopping trolleys.  Every checkout had massive queues and all the people had faces like thunder... and I only went in for some doughnuts for our Chanukah party! The ironic picture however was seeing a rather 'portly' gentleman with a real 'fed up' face wearing a Christmas jumper with Santa on saying "Ho Ho Ho"... my thoughts were “Oy vey... why do people bother?”  Seriously… why do they battle every year to spend money that most of them don't have on a festival that they don't even believe in. When we take "Christ" out of Christmas, all we are left with is a mass... a mass of expense... a mass of greed, a mass of sadness, and the results are an awful experience trying to get a shopping trolley past frenzied angry people.  But worse was to come… As Christmas Eve dawned the results from the UN vote became apparent … and instead of the world stopping for just 24 hours to reflect upon a Saviour, and ‘peace on earth’, what were the United Nations doing?  They were bringing judgement upon each country represented by bringing further condemnation upon the only true democracy within the Middle East – Israel.  More on that shortly.

However, as we enter the New Year, let’s not be too downcast, and I do pray that God’s mighty hand of blessings will come upon you and that this will become a year of divine breakthroughs and miracles.  As I looked at my new desk calendar quoting Hebrews 13:5-6, we need to believe that no matter how great the mountain is, or how hard the battle is, nothing is impossible with God.  I want to encourage you to activate your faith throughout 2017 as we pray for Israel. Even today as I write this report, there is a war being fought over Israel that requires the engagement of our faith. It is a war that seems to bypass reason and common sense, and aims to wipe out the people of Israel.  As I mention in the ‘pointers to prayer’ without doubt, 2017 will bring great challenges.  With Jerusalem celebrating her 50th anniversary of reunification, and the Belfour 100, we can only wonder at what this year will bring.  Therefore, let us fall on our face before the living God, and continue to intercede for the nation of Israel and for the Christian Church throughout the world that they would be a people of the Word (the Scriptures) and understand fully God’s purposes for the Jewish nation of Israel.

UNSC Resolution 2334 and the coming condemnation   2016 was a year of great uncertainty, to say the least: the Syrian conflict saw the historic city of Aleppo slip further into peril, the Brexit vote initiated the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States, leading many to wonder what comes next for international alliances, diplomacy and peace.  All the while, the United Nations through UNESCO attempted to erase Jewish history in Jerusalem.  To say the world’s leading forces are closer to war than ever in the past decade wouldn’t be a far reach. 

Throughout 2016, there was and still is, genocide going on, which has been going on for years and years in the Islamic Middle East in general and Syria in particular. It involved ISIS targeting Yazidis and Christians for extermination, and, in Syria, Shia Muslims joining Alawites to exterminate Sunnis. This is the classic definition of genocide where an ethnic group is target for annihilation.  This genocide reached fever pitch towards the end of December 2016, just as the Obama administration, which hasn’t lifted a finger to protect 500,000 Arabs from being slaughtered, is winding down.

The genocide in Syria has been on our TV screens most days for the past 5 years, yet the United Nations has done nothing.  But worse… with the United Nations scheming against Israel, the UN has not only ignored Aleppo, but has focused on the condemnation of the world’s only Jewish state – Israel (a Jewish State that has nearly 2 million Arabs living in complete safety).  500,000 Arabs have died in Syria and yet the UN thinks the problem to peace within the Middle East is caused by Jews building extra bedrooms in communities in Beit-El!   At the same time, the United Nations couldn’t even pass one UN Security Council Resolution condemning Russia, Syria, and Iran for the slaughter in Syria. However they did pass a motion condemning Jews who live in the ancient Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria.  Is this Zechariah 12 coming to pass?

Over the last couple of weeks of 2016, it was rather difficult enjoying festivities while Aleppo was in the news daily, watching the horrors of bombings of civilians amid incalculable loss of life.  Yet what is equally difficult is that at the same time Aleppo was burning, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, played her political tunes on a fiddle.  For the duration of the seemingly endless Syrian civil war, Samantha Power has figuratively fiddled while that country burns. Now, with one foot out the door, she decides to kick Israel where it hurts.  This is simply unacceptable.  While half a million Arabs die, the UN slams Israel for absolutely no reason what’s-so-ever.   One UN diplomat stated after the vote on UNSC Resolution 2334 that he was “surprised at the haste of some of the countries to hold a vote as quickly as possible.”  The result was again a resolution that is viewed in Israel as one-sided and harmful to the interests of peace.

But this latest chapter of UN bias and hostility towards Israel has not been closed. Over the next two weeks, some 70 countries will be preparing for an international conference in Paris on January 15 which will again deal with questions concerning the Jewish state. That conference will be followed two days later by another session of the UN Security Council where Israel expects yet another hostile decision by world leaders, just before the Obama administration leaves office in Washington.  Is this a deliberate scheme by Obama – who has failed in all his attempts to create his ‘two-state solution’ – to cause untold damage to Israel before he reluctantly passes his presidency over to his ‘enemy’ who has already threated to undo all of Obamas mayhem.  One wonders if US Secretary of State John Kerry’s attack on Israel last week represents a vain attempt to deflect attention from the Obama administration’s failed foreign policy. Kerry’s fixation on the Arab Palestinian issue explains why Russia, with one-tenth the gross domestic product of the US, has emerged as the winner in Syria against US interests and why Iran, its ally, has come to control two more Arab capitals by proxy.

For Israel, matters have been made worse by the passing of UN Security Council resolution 2334. This resolution has called, amongst other things, for the following: It reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;  It reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all community building activities of Jewish communities in what the UN describe as “the occupied Palestinian territory” which should actually be classed as ‘disputed territory’ (including East Jerusalem); It underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the June 4, 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;  It stresses that the cessation of all Israeli “settlement activities” is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution.  Therefore, Israel will be required to keep all of its legal obligations and to withdraw to the pre June 1967 borders - action which would be absolute suicide for Israel. Of course, the Palestinian Authority are encouraged and emboldened by the vote in their favour at the U.N.S.C. which was unanimous (including the UK) and they would know that at least these 15 Countries would support their endeavours to return Israel to what former Israeli PM Aba Eban called the “Auschwitz Borders”.

On January 15, 2017 representatives from 70 different countries will gather in Paris, France, for an unprecedented global conference.  The stated goal of this conference is to promote a "two-state solution" as the way that lasting peace will be brought to the Middle East. However Israel will not even be there!  In Israel, there is a tremendous amount of concern that whatever is agreed upon at this conference will immediately be used as the basis for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would permanently divide the land of Israel and create an Islamic Palestinian state.  But things would have to move very rapidly in order for that to happen, because Barack Obama's time in the White House comes to an end January 20, 2017 and Donald Trump has already made it exceedingly clear that he would never support such a resolution.

The UN Security Council resolution that was passed a couple of weeks ago was one of the most significant events that we have witnessed in decades. Resolution 2334 made all Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria – or what the UN term as ‘the West Bank’ - and in East Jerusalem illegal.  It set the 1967 ceasefire lines as the border between the Israelis and the Arab Palestinians, and it granted every single inch of East Jerusalem to the Arab Palestinians – which would include The Temple Mount and the Western Wall.  However it stopped short of giving official U.N. Security Council recognition to an Islamic Palestinian state, and that is why this conference on January 15, 2017 is so important.

On Wednesday January 4, 2017 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was laying out a plan which many believe will serve as the blueprint for the upcoming conference in Paris. Apparently Kerry has been working on this for quite some time, and according to the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, and other media sources Jewish officials are fearful that he may propose something drastic.  Only time will tell, but we must pray these plans will fail.  Why?  Simple – The Islamic State of Palestine would not allow one single Jew to live in that land – yet nearly 2 million Arabs live in Israel.  According to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Obama administration put the UNSC Resolution 2334 in place.  Netanyahu stated, “The Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed!”  The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated, “Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both. And it won't ever really be at peace.”  That is such an offensive statement.  It is outrageous and frankly anti-Semitic. Have they ever told Iran they can either be Muslim or democratic?

To hear two statements from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue, click on the following links.  To hear a short two minute speech click here: .  To hear the full Netanyahu response to John Kerry’s remarks on Middle East Peace, click here: .

Could it be that the United Nations are taking the rest of the world into deep trouble. They think they are untouchable... but woe to those who touch the apple [Israel] of God's eye (Zechariah 2:8).  The Lord has declared, “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land.” (Joel 3:2)  In Zechariah 12: 2,3 God declares “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.”  How far off are we from these Scriptures being fulfilled?

Russia to host Arab ‘unity party’    At the same time the representatives from 70 different countries will gather in France, Russia will host a meeting of the Islamic Palestinian’s major forces Fatah and Hamas alongside representatives of other factions seeking to restore unity among the Arab Palestinians in Moscow on January 15, 2017.   On June 3, 2016 Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, the special presidential envoy for the Middle East and Africa, at the first international conference on the Israeli-Palestine settlement in Paris called ‘the split among Palestinians’ as “another negative factor hampering the peace progress… This issue should be resolved as the priority task so that the Palestinians present a single and united delegation at the talks on the final status,” Bogdanov said at the time.

This of course causes further problems, as Hamas have never renounced their charter that demands the complete destruction of Israel.  Equally, Fatah continue to feed their youth on a diet of lies and encourage them to take up weapons against the Jews.  As stated, much prayer is needed.

David Soakell  

(CFI Church Liaison Officer (UK) & WoZ News Report Correspondent)

Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Christian Friends of Israel UK & Jerusalem, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, & Israel National Radio