By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
PHOENIX, AZ (ANS — May 20, 2017) – With the occurrence this weekend of US President Donald Trump’s first overseas trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome, the leader of one ministry working in the Middle East has shed some light on what might be going on behind the scenes.
Jonathan Bernis of Jewish Voice Ministries International (www.jewishvoice.org) says the new American administration might have some lofty goals in mind with Trump’s first overseas tour.
In a ministry update to supporters of JVMI, Bernis said: “Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz has invited Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, and other Muslim leaders to join his meeting with President Trump in Riyadh this weekend. Abbas has reportedly agreed to attend.”
Bernis said the meeting “is now shaping up to be a sort of Middle East summit that will kick off the President’s first foreign tour since taking office. He’ll also visit Israel and the Vatican.”
Bernis writes that according to The Jerusalem Post, the Saudi-hosted “Arab, Islamic, and American Summit” is expected to address key problems in the Middle East and open a dialogue about forging new security partnerships.
“Observers had earlier been quoted in The Times of Israel as saying the meeting suggests three goals: building partnerships in the Muslim world against terrorism, laying groundwork for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and constructing an anti-Iranian coalition,” Bernis said.
Meanwhile, Abbas is reportedly preparing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump in Jerusalem next week, following the Saudi gathering.
At a press conference in Ramallah, Abbas said, “We affirmed to [President Trump] that we are ready to cooperate with him and meet the Israeli prime minister under his auspices in order to make peace.”
“That’s encouraging,” said Bernis. “But will it actually lead to a meaningful peace discussion? Though I so want to be optimistic, there’s good reason to be skeptical. “The PA has said it wants peace. But the terror group continues to use each cease-fire, each peace summit, each opportunity as a ‘time-out,’ during which it replenishes its arms stockpile, reloads its rocket launchers, and digs more attack tunnels into Israel.”
Bernis said that for the past eight years, Abbas has stubbornly held to two key preconditions that have stalled meaningful peace talks: the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and a freeze on West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in East Jerusalem. “Prime Minister Netanyahu has consistently said he is willing to meet with Abbas, but only if the preconditions are dropped,” Bernis said.
Bernis stated that direct talks between Abbas and Netanyahu were rare during the Obama administration. “In fact, their last substantive meeting was in 2010.”
Still, said Bernis, the White House said late last week that the President will use his trip to work for a “just and lasting peace” between Israel and the Palestinians, including the Palestinian goal of “self-determination.”
Bernis then quoted U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster as saying the President’s meetings with Israeli leaders are aimed at strengthening ties between the two nations. “He [President Trump] will reaffirm America’s unshakable bond to the Jewish state,” McMaster said.
Bernis concluded: “While Middle East peace prospects have alternated between somewhat possible and absolutely zero dating back to Israel’s birth in 1948, we may have reason to hope that, this time, progress can be made. For the sake of our allies in Israel, the Jewish people we care about so much, and the Muslims we’re called to love in Yeshua’s name, I hope you’ll join me in praying that genuine peace advances across the region. Nothing less than precious lives are at stake.”
Bernis is a Jewish believer in Jesus who has been in Messianic Jewish ministry for over thirty-five years and is the host of Jewish Voice With Jonathan Bernis, a daily television program seen on Christian networks across the globe. Bernis and his wife, Elisangela, are the parents of two daughters, Liel and Hannah, and reside in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo captions: 1) Jonathan Bernis 2) Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, shakes hands with President Donald Trump at the White House. 3) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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