Resolution Pressure

Hello Everyone!

Today US Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with an Arab League delegation discussing their push at the UN Security Council for a timeline on an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.

A Palestinian draft resolution being circulated by Jordan at the UN calls for the Israelis to leave the occupied territories - the territory of the proposed future Palestinian state - by November 2016.

Much of the world sees a sense of urgency for moving the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians forward.

Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu met with Kerry yesterday, asking him not to allow the resolution to to advance at the UN.

In response to Israeli pressure, France, the UK and Germany have drafted their own version for a UN resolution. It essentially says more of the same from the past, deflecting the issue rather than asserting concrete steps, calling for a return to negotiations with a view to achieving a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians to live side by side in peace.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov altered his schedule and flew into Rome to hold an unscheduled meeting with Kerry on the topic as well saying, "I am convinced that the Middle East settlement issues need to be solved urgently and we must not allow the situation to deteriorate".

Israeli relations with the Palestinians worsened after the conflict with Hamas in Gaza this past summer and amid growing unrest in Jerusalem, due in part to extremist Jewish circles seeking to gain access to Islam's third holiest site, the Haram El-Sharif to pray and worship.

Further settlement expansion, particularly around Jerusalem and in densely populated Arab Muslim neighborhoods, have further exasperated the tension.

Arab League ministers want the US to abstain from vetoing the proposed resolution at the Security Council, as the US usually exercises it's veto power on behalf of it's ally Israel.

There are other Western diplomats who feel the Arab draft, particularly with its deadline for withdrawal, is unbalanced.

But with the West dependent upon Arab countries in the fight against the Islamic State and other instabilities across the Muslim world, it seems the resolution is certainly getting a closer scrutiny this time around and is placing pressure upon America and Israel to alter their course of tactics concerning the Palestinians.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Christmas Joy

Hi Everybody,

I hope you are doing well today – we are having more rain which is good for us here in Israel – but of concern to those cleaning up the huge oil spill down south near Eilat.

There are many bleak things happening across the Middle East – and even here in the Holy Land.

And here we are just under two weeks away from Christmas and, being around the Old City and also having visited Bethlehem – there isn't much up to account for Christmas joy.

Having lived here more than twenty years I can see the difference – it is simply less expression.

In thinking about this, it could be related to the diminishing Christian presence in the greater land of the Bible.

It could be that Muslim shopkeepers who sought to exploit the holiday cheer wish not to identify with such any more for the dominance of extremism.

Perhaps too, it could be the reality that there are less and less Christian children for whom the seasonal cheer brings much needed joy.

Our family is mindful of the celebration of Emmanuel – God with us!

And I chose to say "Merry Christmas" as I interact with individuals.

The dynamics are different between America, and peoples push to remove Christian joy under the veil of offense, and the Middle East, with the rise of the Jihadist and the identification of the infidel as Christian.

For me, the Angle of the Lord made an announcement – Peace on Earth – Good will toward men...

For me, the Sheppard's reported what they heard and saw...

For me, the Wise men rejoiced seeing the star after leaving their conversation with Herod, which guided them to the Babe born in Bethlehem.

Because for me, the Bible is true and trustworthy with what it said has happened and what that means for me and for you!

I'm excited to learn, share, and be joyful – these are great human gifts – but can't hold a candle to the gift of Jesus born within ones heart by the Holy Spirit.

It's nice to share gifts – don't be ashamed to share the gift of joy this season!

Merry Christmas from where it all happened!

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Last Day In Session

Hello Everyone!

So what did Israel's Knesset, one of the shortest in the state's history lasting 670 days, do on it's last day in session.

According to some – a few dirty tricks.

Things got a little physical as the defense establishment in Israel walked away almost 1.5 billion dollars richer at the end of the night.

Various Members of the Knesset protested the alleged 'hijacking' of funds, most of which could have been used by other ministries like education and public services.

Campaigns for the March 17 election began in earnest late Monday night when the Knesset voted 93-0 to dissolve itself and initiate the race for the next parliament.

The problem for most is that this was all done without the proper procedure and such public projects that had been vetted and approved for receiving budgetary assistance in the proper way are now left high and dry.

People cried foul, calling the move a "cynical exploitation of security issues" as the Chair of the committee said the money was going to help pay for the summer's conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

The Knesset also passed a controversial law meant to prevent what Israel calls "infiltration" of African migrants into Israel. The measure additionally addresses those who are here as refugees to leave.

Israel's High Court of Justice struck down two previous passing's of the Law.

International human rights activists have sharply criticized Israel's detention, jailing, and expulsion of asylum seekers to it's land.

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan defended the bill against those who describe it as xenophobic among other things saying, "The argument here is between two political groups: Those who see Israel, first and foremost as the one and only nation-state of the Jews, and the Left bloc, who, unfortunately, are willing to endanger this."

This outgoing Knesset, after Mr. Bibi Netanyahu's coalition made improving the ability to govern a top priority, didn't seem to make good on it's mantra.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Ex-Wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Hello All,

This week has carried a particularly intriguing story.

It comes out of Lebanon, with Lebanese authorities detaining a woman with her son, first thought to be the wife of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The arrest came a few weeks ago when the woman tried to enter Lebanon from Syria – apparently with fake documents.

So called "foreign intelligence apparatus" was involved in her apprehension – as she would be a high value target. Many versions of just who she was were circulating from regional sources, including Iraq and Lebanon.

It turns out that the woman was married to Baghdadi for three months six years ago, and has a daughter by him.

She was traveling with her daughter, and two sons.

Lebanese security used DNA from both the woman and the daughter with her, along with DNA from Iraqi authorities of Al-Baghdadi to ascertain the match.

The two boys with her are from a previous marriage. It turns out, in fact, that she is now married to a Palestinian, and is actually pregnant with his child.

Her family is a known terror source with her father and brother being active in Al-Nusra Front.

She was in custody at the beginning of the year and released in an Al-Nusra prisoner exchange for Greek Orthodox Nuns whom the group kidnapped. 120 prisoners were swapped, and this woman was part of that exchange,

One Lebanese official has said she is a "powerful card" in negotiations with IS and Al-Nusra, who are currently holding more than 20 Lebanese soldiers and police hostage.

They are threatening to kill them unless militants are freed from Lebanese jails.

Islamic State has not commented on the affair.

Al-Nusra has condemned her being held.

Make no mistake, authorities are pleased to have the chance to glean information from her as they seek to learn more about the self proclaimed Caliph - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Pope Francis's Visit to Turkey

Hello Everyone,

Pope Francis made a trip to Turkey this past weekend.

The three-day visit aimed to promote religious dialogue in the country.

Pope Francis said that to counter fanaticism and fundamentalism, there must be interfaith dialogue.

The leader of the worlds 1.2 billion Catholics also renewed his call for peace in the Middle East, saying the region had "for too long been a theatre of fratricidal wars".

In keeping to his attention to the poor and destitute, he urged more help for refugees from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey has within it's borders an estimated 1.6m refugees, mostly in its south, after Islamic State rolled it's way through Syria and Iraq in a blitzing assumption of lands to form it's self declared Caliphate.

This is the fourth visit by a pope to the 99% Muslim Turkey. Pope Benedict was the last to do so, inadvertently causing a storm over quotes from comments about Islam back in 2006.

Pope Francis sought to get Muslim leaders to "deepen the understanding and appreciation of the many things which we hold in common".

As well as seeking to build bridges between Christianity and Islam, Francis spent significant and symbolic time with the Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch of the world's 310 million faithful.

There were mutual prayers and declarations – but the occurrence with the most impact was perhaps Pope Francis bowing into the arms of Patriarch Bartholomew, and in so doing, asking for his blessing. This, in terms of the historical Churches, was an extraordinary display of Christian unity, and courage in leadership for the two men.

But it was Pope Francis's comments condemning Islamic State that captured the headlines. Several times he referred to Christianity in the Middle East and the fact that Muslim extremism and the Islamic State are driving Christians out from their historical homes.

In Sunday morning's Mass, the pope said Islamic State was committing a "profoundly grave sin against God" and called for inter-religious dialogue and action against poverty to help end the conflicts in the region.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear All,

I wish to thank all of you for being a part of our LeSEA family and watching the Harvest Show.

Our prayer is that you will be encouraged and strengthened in your relationship with God - and I am thankful for the small role I am blessed with in doing so!

Most of all, we are all thankful for God loving us, not leaving us to live on our own without hope - but giving us the Gift of His Son - that we would not perish - but have everlasting life... and you know what we'll be doing there in eternity - We'll be thanking Him!

Until then - I thank you for allowing me the privilege to be involved in your day!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving friends,

Brian Bush Middle East Corespondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Islamic State Expanding

Hello Friends,

The Islamic State is expanding.

It seems that they feel they are not going to be gaining more territory any time soon in Syria and Iraq – so they are looking to destabilize and create new areas of influence.

We already know that they wish to see their black flag raised in the Kingdom of Saud.

In Libya, the Islamic State's influence is moving west with fighters claiming loyalty to IS now in complete control of the city of Derna, with a population of about 100,000, not far from Egypt's western border.

This area is a known weapons smuggling route, and places the extremist group about 200 miles from the shores of the European Union.

Libya is suffering from political chaos and ethnic strife.

Reports say that up to 300 Libyan jihadists have returned from fighting in Syria and Iraq in order to expand IS's presence westwards along the coast towards Algeria - where Islamic State has recently gained a foothold as well, through the allegiance of a large terrorist group there.

In Egypt's Sinai, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis – the area's largest and most effective terror group has now pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

They now call themselves the "State of Sinai" – eluding to ISs desire to grow its boundaries.

The terror group has been responsible for the death of hundreds of Egyptian police and soldiers – along with escalating attacks upon Israeli interests.

The Islamic State has sent a deputy commander of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to lead the acquired groups operations.

Egypt's President Abdel al Sisi has vowed to crush the group.

Reports say that as many as 20,000 soldiers are in the area preparing to confront the Jihadists. Israel authorized the expansion of the Egyptian presence as it sees President Sisi serious about wiping out this potential major threat before it can organize any further terror.

The buffer zone to the Gaza Strip has now been extended to roughly ½ miles width as opposed to the original size of ¼ mile.

President Sisi (and Israel for that matter) wishes to block any physical ability for Jihadists in the Northern Sinai to link up with Hamas or any other group in Gaza.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Terror Attack

Hello Everyone,

Sadly we must discuss what it the deadliest terror attack in Jerusalem for a long time.

Four Israelis with dual citizenship to America and one to the UK were killed this morning by two Arab residents of what is commonly referred to East Jerusalem.

The victims, and eight wounded, were in a synagogue in a religious neighborhood in West Jerusalem for early morning prayers and were attacked by two Arab young men who were cousins.

Police arrived on the scene quickly and are said to have encountered the two attackers outside. A gunfight ensured and the attackers were killed and two officers wounded – one critically in the head (who incidentally is an Arab traffic policeman and has a months old baby daughter at home).

There had been speculation about a third man possibly being involved but this was latter dismissed.

International condemnation has been plenteous in response to the tragedy, as thousands joined in on the funerals held this afternoon for the victims.

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu was quick to point the finger, blaming the attack squarely upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who he says is inciting terror.

Mr. Abbas condemned the attack, and violence towards worshipers and civilians.

Oddly, Israel's head of the Shin Bet intelligence service contradicted Mr. Netanyahu saying that the President does not incite violence against Israelis.

Critics have been pointing to Mr. Netanyahu for squeezing political gains from the attack, but he also oversaw a Security Council meeting soon after the attack and said Israel will respond with a heavy hand.

Netanyahu ordered the homes of the terrorists demolished – this after police spent much of the day rounding up family members of the attackers. Large bodies of police were seen around several Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem with ensuing clashes.

West Bank Palestinians also were in conflict both with police and settlers in multiple areas.

Many Palestinians feel that the attack occurred because of revenge for the death the night before of an Arab bus driver of an Israeli public bus found hung within.

Witnesses say six Jewish youth were seen at the scene in confrontation with the driver. The police say there was no foul play involved and described the incident as a suicide.

This enraged many Israeli Arabs and Palestinians who then took to the streets.

Curiously, the police have not released the body to the family for burial, and a Palestinian pathologist who observed the body said he disagreed with the police determination of death.

Lets pray that cool heads prevail, as Jerusalem has been suffering back and forth attacks and now appears set for some serious repercussions unless there is a 'stepping back' from the path of violence.

Thank you friends – for those prays of intercession.

Brian Bush Middle east Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Demonstrations in Israel

Hello Everyone,

Lets give you a rundown on what has been a busy day here in Israel.

Thousands of demonstrators protested in the Arab towns up north in Israel.

Kafr Kana was the site earlier this week of rioting and demonstrations and this is the area of the Biblical town of Cana where the Gospels record Jesus turning the water into wine at a wedding.

Thousands were again on the street today protesting the killing by police of a local youth who had attacked a police van with a knife, and who ran away when officers exited the van – one killing the young man.

Israel police policies of engagement specify rules of engagement and self defense, which were not followed according to a CCTV recording of the incident.

Protests also centered around the ongoing controversy as Jewish extremists, Settlers, and right wing activists – including members of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's government challenge Muslim sovereignty over Islam's third holiest site – the Haram Al-Sharif, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

North of Jerusalem in the West Bank a group of Palestinian activists used foot bridges and ladders scaling the separation wall in a symbolic attempt to reach Jerusalem mostly done for the media's attention.

Security forces prevented the march from getting very far and ultimately broke up the gathering.

Another 100 or so Palestinian activists gathered in an Israeli area waving flags and occasionally blocking traffic.

Security forces were on the scene there and dispersed the crowds with stun grenades.

In Hebron, some 300 Palestinians clashed with IDF forces..

Security forces were deployed all across Jerusalem and particularly here in the Old City.

Israeli authorities did not impose age restrictions on Muslim worshipers attending Friday prayers at the Temple Mount complex.

This a direct result from a meeting held last night in Amman with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah. At the meeting Secretary Kerry stressed that more can be done to calm tensions in Jerusalem and that Israel must restore the freedom of access to Holy Sites. Netanyahu promised not to change the Status Quo on the regulations prohibiting Jews from prayer atop the Muslim compound.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Harvest Live from Jerusalem!

Hi Everybody!

We had a fantastic show from here in Jerusalem!

If you missed it - check it out at harvest-tv.com and enjoy!

See you tomorrow for a fresh update on the Middle East tomorrow on the Harvest Show.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

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