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Just days before nuclear talks end, Iran seizes Yemen. U.S. evacuates, but Saudis & Arab coalition launch war to retake Yemen. Where will this lead?

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2015 at 2:51 am
(source: Al-Arabiya)

(source: Al-Arabiya)

In just a few days, we will reach the March 31st deadline to complete nuclear negotiations with Iran.Yet rather than conclude a deal that would truly stop Iran from getting The Bomb and constrain Iranian aggression in the Middle East, consider the surreal events presently unfolding:

Please pray that this terrible deal with Iran will:

  • fall apart
  • by blocked by France or another country at the negotiating table
  • be blocked by Congress
  • be dramatically changed to become a good deal that blocks Iran from The Bomb

Time is running out. Former Ambassador John Bolton has written an op-ed for the New York Times that the negotiations have failed and the time has come to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Consider this excerpt: “The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

Clearly, the Obama administration is not going to attack Iran.

Might Israel and a Sunni Arab alliance?

Developing….

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Israeli Arabs voted in higher numbers this time than in the last election. This is good news. Here’s why.

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2015 at 10:46 am
Arab turnout at the polls this year was much higher than last election, and this is a good thing. (photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

Arab turnout at the polls this year was much higher than last election, and this is a good thing. (photo credit: Al-Arabiya)

(Central Israel) — Arab citizens of Israel turned out to the polls on March 17th in significantly higher numbers than in the previous election, according to research published today by the Jerusalem Post. Indeed, some 444,000 Israeli Arabs voted last week, compared to only 349,000 last time.

As a new citizen of Israel, I’m encouraged by this. Arabs are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel. In this country, as in few others in the region, Arab citizens — along with Jewish citizens and all other citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or religion — have the legal right to vote and to be fully engaged in free and fair elections in every possible way.

This is good news. A democracy is healthier when everyone exercises their right not simply to vote, but also their right to speak out, to publish their views, to peaceably assemble, to choose their leaders and to influence public policy according to their own religious and political beliefs, morals and values.

True, the Israeli Arab parties are significantly out of the mainstream. Some of these parties advance Communist ideology, or Islamist views, or anti-Zionist nationalist views. Indeed, the Joint (Arab) List — which just won 13 seats in the Knesset — includes parties that advance each of these views. But that’s okay.

You don’t have to agree with their beliefs to support their right to hold and advance such views in a free and democratic society. Indeed, part of the beauty of truly free societies is that despite their various flaws, they respect and vigorously protect the right of people to hold and advance minority positions.

This isn’t happening in Syria or Iran or Saudi Arabia. But it’s happening in Israel, and it should be celebrated.

Excerpts from the Jerusalem Post article:

  • Israeli Arab voter turnout was 63.5 percent in the election compared to 56% in 2013, according to the Statnet research institute, which had predicted a 63.4% turnout prior to the election.
  • Yousef Makladeh, CEO of Statnet.co.il shared its research data and polling statistics prior to the election with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, which demonstrated that the polling company was surprisingly accurate in its pre-election polling.
  • Makledeh said that 82% of Israeli Arabs voted for Arab parties in the Joint (Arab) List compared to 77% who voted for Arab parties in 2013….
  • In 2013, the Arab parties together received 349,000 votes compared to 444,000 in this election, an increase of 27.3%….
  • The Joint List ended up with 13 seats in the Knesset.
  • Apart from the Joint List, Arab voters supported in descending order: the Zionist Union with 22.8% (25,806 votes), the Likud 15.3% (17,394), Yisrael Beytenu 13.7% (15,538), Kulanu 11.8% (13,432), Meretz 11.2% (12,752), Shas 8.8% (10,016), and Yesh Atid 4.1% (4,662).

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In meeting with Israeli Arab leaders, Netanyahu apologizes for comments that “hurt the Arab citizens.” Good. That was the right thing to do.

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm
Netanyahu meeting with Arab leaders on March 23, 2015.

Netanyahu meeting with Arab leaders on March 23, 2015.

Netanyahu-Arabs2(Central Israel) — During a meeting today with leaders from various Arab communities in Israel, newly-reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Israeli Arab citizens for comments he made on Election Day.

“I know the things I said several days ago offended some of Israel’s citizens, hurt the Arab citizens. I had no intention to hurt anyone and I am sorry if I did,” Netanyahu told the leaders. “My actions as prime minister, including the tremendous investment in minority sectors prove the opposite. I think, too, that we must never let anyone outside the state of Israel interfere with our democratic process….I see myself as the prime minister of each and every one of you, all the citizens of Israel, regardless of faith, ethnicity or gender. I see all citizens of Israel as partners in building a prosperous and secure state, a state for all its citizens.”

Good. That was the right thing to do. The PM was right to apologize. His remarks were insensitive and unhelpful. I would encourage him to be pro-active in the weeks and months to come in reaching out to Israeli Arab leaders, including them in his plans for the country, and continuing to invest in the economic growth, development and progress of Israeli Arab communities. As I noted yesterday on this blog, “Israeli Arabs are a vital part of our national culture and society. They are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel and they should be honored and protected by our leaders, whatever their religious or political views.”

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“The Third Target” is #1 best-selling novel in Christian market for second month. Special simulcast event set for April 19th. Register today.

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 1:07 pm

TheThirdTargetThe Third Target — a new international political thriller about the threat ISIS poses to the U.S., Israel and Jordan — is the #1 best-selling novel in the Christian market in North America for the second month in a row.

The novel, which was released on January 6th, recently spent 7 weeks on the Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction best-seller list. It hit the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post best-seller lists, as well.

Amidst the barbaric attacks by ISIS jihadists across Iraq, Syria and North Africa, Christians throughout North America and around the world are asking many questions. Who is ISIS? What do they believe? What do they want? How serious is the threat to us? Is it true that genocidal conditions are emerging for Christians in the Middle East? And is there any good news? How can the Church advance the Gospel amongst Muslims?

In this context, I am pleased to announce that Tyndale House Publishers and I are partnering to present a special simulcast event on Sunday evening, April 19th, to answer these questions.

You, your small group, and/or your church — small, medium, or large — can register now to view the simulcast and to share the message with family, friends and neighbors.

Please go to the website to learn more, share this information with your pastor and with others, and then register today so you can be part of this timely event.

Thanks so much to everyone who is reading the book and telling their friends about it. Please continue to post your reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Good Reads, other online book sites and other social media sites, including at the “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook. Please also keep praying for the U.S. and our allies to develop a bold and decisive strategy to contain and then defeat ISIS, before these apocalyptic jihadists launch new and potentially catastrophic terror attacks.

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Israeli Arabs are a vital part of our society & must be valued as such. Netanyahu is not a racist, but he should have been more careful how he communicated during the campaign. Now he should bring all Israelis together against common threats.

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2015 at 4:10 pm

netanyahu-PMoffice>> MONDAY UPDATE (4pm Israel time): With 67 Members of Knesset recommending him to be Prime Minister, Netanyahu to be formally tasked with assembling new government.

UPDATED: (Central Israel) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under blistering criticism for comments he made on Election Day when he urged his supporters to turn out to the polls and vote for him because foreign organizations were mobilizing a larger number of Arab voters than usual to vote for his Left-wing opponents.

Here is specifically what the PM said in an Election Day You Tube video: “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses….We only have you. Go to the polls, bring your friends and family, vote Mahal [Likud] to close the gap between us and Labor [Zionist Union]….With your help and God’s help, we will form a nationalist government that will protect the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu has been excoriated by those on the Israeli Left and in the international media. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, whose party experienced a crushing an unexpected defeat on Tuesday, bitterly sniped that the PM “resorted to lies, incitement and racism” to win the election. HBO’s Bill Maher called Netanyahu a “racist.”  Other left-wing commentators in the U.S. also accused him of “racism.”

The Prime Minister, however, explained that “what’s wrong is not that Arab citizens are voting, but that massive funds from abroad from left-wing NGOs and foreign governments are bringing them en masse to the polls in an organized way, thus twisting the true will of all Israeli citizens who are voting, for the good of the Left.”

Amidst all the hyperbolic rhetoric, let’s be clear on these facts:

  • Netanyahu is not a racist, he doesn’t hate Arabs, and his record shows his respect for Israel’s Arab community, which makes up about 20% of Israel’s 8.2 million citizens.
  • Netanyahu has invested billions in the economic development of the Israeli Arab community over the years. (See here, here, here, here and here)
  • Netanyahu has carefully and properly protected the rights of Israeli Arab citizens to register to vote, to vote, to have their own political parties, and to serve in government positions, including as justices in the Israeli Supreme Court.
  • The PM did nothing to prevent Israeli Arabs from voting, nor has he ever.
  • Indeed, this election had the highest percentage of Israelis voting — both Jews and Arabs — of any election since 1999.
  • What’s more, there will be a record 15 Arab Members of Knesset in the next parliament, “the highest number to date” — 13 will be members of Joint Arab List, one will be from the Zionist Union, and one from a member of the Meretz party.
  • Israel has proven to be the safest, freest, most robust democracy for Arabs and Jews in the entire Middle East under all prime ministers of Israel, including Netanyahu.
  • According to a recent poll, during the Netanyahu years as Prime Minister, “65% of Israeli Arabs described themselves as either very or quite proud to be Israeli.”
  • UPDATE: Read about the Arab town in Israel that voted 76% for Netanyahu and the Likud.

That said, it also must be noted that:

In this context, Netanyahu had every right — indeed a responsibility even — to warn his supporters that Communist, Islamist and anti-Zionist voters were mobilizing to defeat him, and that foreign NGOs were helping get these voters to the polls in large numbers. He had every right — and again, the responsibility — to educate and mobilize voters who want Jerusalem to remain unified and don’t believe in rolling Israel back to indefensible borders to get to the polls to defend their values.

This wasn’t racist, and Netanyahu’s critics know it.

All that said, Netanyahu should have been more careful in how he communicated. He should have taken extra care to be precise about his concerns, knowing how his enemies constantly try to use his words against him. He was not the only candidate to use passionate rhetoric in the heat of a campaign, but he should hold himself to a higher standard.

Israeli Arabs are a vital part of our national culture and society. They are full-fledged citizens of the State of Israel and they should be honored and protected by our leaders, whatever their religious or political views.

So now, the Prime Minister should pro-actively reach out to all Israelis — Arabs and Jews, those who voted for him and those who did not — and bring the nation together. We face grave and common threats and we need each other. What’s more, the world is watching how we treat one another.

As Khamenei urges “Death to America,” Kerry insists progress being made on nuclear deal. The administration is playing with fire.

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2015 at 11:17 am
"Death to America!" says Iran's Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Death to America!” says Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

We are rapidly approaching the March 31st deadline for the Iran nuclear negotiations. Yet while Iran makes few if any concessions, the P5+1 continues to make more and more concessions to the tyrants of Tehran.

Iran’s leaders keep openly and unabashedly threatening America and Israel with annihilation. Yet the Obama administration and the major world powers keep giving Iran what it wants. Under the current deal that’s being discussion, Iran does not have to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure. It will still be allowed to enrich uranium. It does not have to disclose its nuclear weaponization efforts. It does not have to modify much less abandon its efforts to build ICBMs. And it will be given assurances that all economic sanctions will be removed from Iran in due time, and all nuclear inspectors will be removed, as well.

This is a dangerous road. The administration is playing with fire.

The President, the Secretary of State and their top advisors do not understand the apocalyptic, genocidal eschatology driving the leaders of the Iranian regime. Thus, they are engaging in a level of appeasement towards Tehran that would make Neville Chamberlain blush.

Here is the latest:

  • “Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for ‘Death to America’ on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to seize a ‘historic opportunity’ for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed substantial progress toward an accord,” reports the Times of Israel.
  • “Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran that Iran would not capitulate to Western demands,” the Times noted. “When the crowd started shouting, ‘Death to America,’ the ayatollah responded: ‘Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.'”
  • “’They insist on putting pressure on our dear people’s economy,’ he said, referring to economic sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear program. ‘What is their goal? Their goal is to put the people against the system,’ he said. ‘The politics of America is to create insecurity,’ he added, referring both to US pressure on Iran and elsewhere in the region.”
  • The Times noted that “Khamenei’s comments contrasted with those of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who said ‘achieving a deal is possible’ by the March 31 target date for a preliminary accord.”
  • “Kerry was more circumspect, as he spoke to reporters after six days of negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne,” noted the article. “The talks, made ‘substantial progress,’ he said, but ‘important gaps remain….We have an opportunity to get this right,’ Kerry said, as he urged Iran to make ‘fundamental decisions’ that prove to the world it has no interest in atomic weapons.”

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“The Auschwitz Escape” named finalist for Gold Medallion Award for Best Novel.

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2015 at 9:44 am

auschwitzescape-smallGoldMedallionAwardWe have just heard the news that my first work of historical fiction — The Auschwitz Escape — has become a finalist for the Gold Medallion Award for Best Novel, an annual award given by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

The Auschwitz Escape was also recently a finalist for the 2014 Good Reads award for Best Historical Fiction.

Given the personal nature of this book, and our desire to see Christians learn more about the Holocaust and share that knowledge with younger generations, Lynn and I are thrilled that ECPA has named The Auschwitz Escape a finalist. Perhaps this will draw more attention to the novel — and to some of the true stories of heroism and courage in the face of terrible evil that inspired the novel in the first place — and encourage many more to read it, especially young people.

In 2006, my third political thriller — The Ezekiel Optionwon the Gold Medallion Award for Best Novel. It was a true honor and one for which we are deeply grateful.

Here are excerpts from last week’s press release:

PHOENIX, Ariz., March 19, 2015 —The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) released today the 37 finalists for the 2015 Christian Book Award® program, honoring Christian publishing’s best book and Bible releases of the year.  The top five titles in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children, Inspiration, and Bibles – with ties in both Bible Reference and New Author – make up the stellar finalist pool deemed as the “best Christian books of the year.”

A winner in each category and the Christian Book of the Year™ will be announced on May 5 among industry leadership at the ECPA Awards Banquet held in conjunction with the ECPA Leadership Summit in Nashville….

Fiction

  • The Advocate, Randy Singer | Tyndale House Publishers, 9781414391304
  • The Auschwitz Escape, Joel C. Rosenberg | Tyndale House Publishers, 9781414336244
  • The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, Tosca Lee | Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 9781451684049
  • The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn: A Novel, Lori Benton | WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, 9780307731494
  • The Sentinels of Andersonville, Tracy Groot | Tyndale House Publishers, 9781414359489

“These 37 titles join a premier collection of Christian content carrying our industry’s highest accolade,” says ECPA President/CEO Mark Kuyper.  “We are honored to promote them as the apex of what we do as an industry: produce great books that feed the soul in a marketplace too often dominated by content that starves it.”

Christian Book Award® program finalists and winners receive recognition and support throughout multiple retail and media outlets, including Christianity Today, ChristianBook.com, Cokesbury, Family Christian, LifeWay, Mardel, Munce Group, Parable Christian Stores, Crossings, Innovative/Signature Websites, NetGalley, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.  Christianity Today will continue their partnership with the program through ad campaigns in their digital and print publications, May through December of this year.

The Christian Book Award® program has recognized the absolute highest quality in Christian books since 1978. Based on excellence in content, literary quality, design, and impact, the Christian Book Award® program is the oldest and among the most prestigious awards in the religious publishing industry.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) is an international non-profit trade organization, comprised of nearly 200 member companies worldwide, representing a combined revenue of nearly $1.4 billion. Since 1974, ECPA has strengthened Christian publishing by building Networking, Information, and Advocacy opportunities within the industry and across multiple channels so that our members can more effectively produce and deliver transformational Christian content. For more information about ECPA: 480-966-3998, info@ecpa.org, www.ecpa.org.

BIBI’S BLOW OUT: Netanyahu miraculously surges to 30 seats. Has 6-seat lead over Herzog. Obama campaign against Bibi backfires. (Updated)

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2015 at 3:32 am
Netanyahu at victory rally in Tel Aviv in the week hours of Wednesday morning (photo credit: Times of Israel)

Netanyahu at victory rally in Tel Aviv in the week hours of Wednesday morning (photo credit: Times of Israel)

Near-final results put Netanyahu's Likud Party at 30 seats, 10 more than final newspaper polls predicted. (Source: Times of Israel)

Near-final results put Netanyahu’s Likud Party at 30 seats, 10 more than final newspaper polls predicted. (Source: Times of Israel)

UPDATED AT 8:30AM ISRAEL TIME: (Central Israel) — The Israeli media was completely wrong.

The American pundits were wrong.

The Israeli newspaper polls were completely wrong.

The TV network exit polls were completely wrong.

The Obama team efforts to unseat an American ally were a complete failure.

Netanyahu wasn’t losing. He wasn’t about to be shipped off to retirement in disgrace.

This wasn’t close — this was a landslide.

Bibi’s blow out.

It’s now 5:30am. The sun will soon be rising here, and as it does Israelis — and the world — will be awakening to a miracle.

With 95% of the actual votes counted, Netanyahu and his Likud Party have surged from 20 seats in the final newspaper polls to 29 actual seats in the next Knesset (parliament). That’s a five-seat lead over Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni and their Zionist Union opposition party.

UPDATE AT 8:30AM ISRAEL TIME: “With 99 percent of the ballots counted, Likud is increasing its lead with 30 Knesset seats, compared to the Zionist Union’s 24.”

Here are the latest results (as of 8:30am Israel time on Wednesday):

  1. Likud — 30 seats
  2. Zionist Union — 24 seats
  3. Joint Arab List — 14
  4. Yesh Atid — 11
  5. Kulanu — 10
  6. Bayit Yehudi — 8
  7. Shas — 7
  8. United Torah Judaism — 6
  9. Yisrael Beytenu — 6
  10. Meretz — 4
  11. Yachad — 0 (did not get enough votes to pass the minimum threshold)

Did Netanyahu’s speech to Congress convince Israelis he was most qualified to protect Israel from a dangerous Iran nuclear deal? Yes.

Did President Obama’s attacks against the Prime Minister backfire? Yes.

Did the millions and millions of dollars spent by foreigners to bring down Netanyahu completely fail? Yes.

It’s going to fascinating to watch the enemies of Netanyahu explain this away. I know several of Bibi’s top campaign operatives. They have done an absolutely outstanding job.

But in the end, a result like this cannot be fully explained in human terms.

This was a miracle.

Unexpected. Unexplainable. Unbelievable. But true.

Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven; Daniel said, ‘Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings.” (Biblical Book of Daniel, chapter two, verses 19 through 21)

Developing….

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BREAKING: Stunning comeback for Netanyahu. Surges from 20 to 27-28 seats. But will he return as sole Prime Minister, or will there be a “unity government”?

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2015 at 8:34 pm
(Source: Times of Israel, based on exit poll numbers)

(Source: Times of Israel, based on exit poll numbers)

UPDATED AT 12:30am ISRAEL TIME: (Central Israel) — The voting here in Israel ended at 10pm local time on Tuesday (4pm eastern).

The TV network exit polls show a stunning turn of events — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party were down at 20 seats last week, at least four seats behind opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the “Zionist Union” party.

Tonight, Netanyahu and his team appear to be at 27 or 28 seats, tied with — or possibly a seat ahead — of Herzog.

If these numbers hold, Netanyahu may have an easier path to put together a governing coalition with center-right parties and return as Prime Minister. However, there is talk that President Reuven Rivlin will insist on a “unity government” where Netanyahu and Herzog would be required to share power and govern together, rather than Netanyahu serving as the sole premier.

It’s too soon to know exactly how this will play out. The process of building a governing coalition in Israel is complicated and often very messy and not easily predicted. There could be lots of twists and turns in the saga in the coming days and weeks.

Still, the early evidence tonight points to dramatic comeback by Netanyahu, one that seems to put him in a better position to building a majority coalition.

President Obama and his political operatives did everything possible to unseat Netanyahu. It does not seem to have worked.

Given how cold President Obama has been towards Netanyahu, expect the deep freeze to get worse in the next two years if Netanyahu is the sole PM. The President’s approach towards Israel could get far uglier than it even has been thus far, especially since Mr. Obama will never face voters again.

More analysis tomorrow. Now it is well past midnight.

Please follow my Twitter account for latest updates.

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HERZOG-LIVNI TICKET IMPLODES AT 11TH HOUR. Who is Isaac Herzog and is he ready to be Israel’s next Prime Minister? UPDATE: Netanyahu says no Palestinian state if he is re-elected. (I’ll be on the Hannity radio show today to discuss the elections in Israel.)

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2015 at 6:21 pm
Isaac "Buji" Herzog is the Israeli opposition leader and head of the Labor Party.  Tzipi Livni is a former Israeli foreign minister and former head of the largest political party in Israel, though under her leadership the party shrunk considerably.

Isaac “Buji” Herzog is the Israeli opposition leader and head of the Labor Party. Tzipi Livni is a former Israeli foreign minister and former head of the largest political party in Israel, though under her leadership the party shrunk considerably.

UPDATED AT 9:50pm ISRAEL TIME. (Jerusalem, Israel) — As I wrote on March 9th, polls have been breaking against Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud Party, raising the very real possibility that Netanyahu will not return as premier after Tuesday’s elections. I was not predicting “Bibi” would lose. He has certainly shown an uncanny to regain the political momentum over the years, and he could do so again.

But every political analyst in Israel now sees a distinct possibility that a new PM will emerge. This has drawn increasing focus on Isaac “Buji” Herzog, the head of the Labor Party and Israel’s opposition leader. Is Herzog ready to be Israel’s next Prime Minister? Can this quiet, self-effacing son of Israel’s first President (Chaim Herzog) be trusted to protect the country from numerous and rising threats, from Iran and ISIS to Hezbollah, Hamas and the PLO? Does he have what it takes to stand up against mounting international pressures to give up more and more Israeli territory in the ever-elusive search for peace? And will Israeli voters remove Benjamin Netanyahu — who is serving his ninth year as premier — from power and put the untested Herzog in the top spot?

These are several of the big questions on people minds here as the last day of campaigning wraps up. We are now just a few hours away from the polls opening here on Tuesday morning for what very well could prove the most consequential Israeli national elections in a generation.

I just landed at Ben Gurion International Airport. In a short while I will be on the “Sean Hannity Radio Show” to preview the Israeli elections. Over the next 48 hours, I will be blogging and Tweeting extensively on the race. But here are a few initial thoughts:

  1. The big, breaking news here tonight is that the Herzog-Livni ticket is imploding at the 11th hour — Tzipi Livni is actually stepping off the ticket in a completely stunning political move. The two have been running for the last several months as a team in a “rotation agreement.” That is, “buy one, get one free.” If you vote for their combined faction (two political parties running together) and they win the most seats in the Knesset (parliament) then Herzog had promised to serve as Prime Minister for two years, and Livni for the second two years. But Livni is very unpopular. Within their parties, the rotation agreement was very unpopular. There was growing pressure to remove her from the ticket, but some strategists on the left feared doing so this late in the game would reflect badly on Herzog and raise questions about his judgment and ability to lead. Nevertheless, at the 11th hour, Livni announced that she will no longer be part of the rotation agreement. She says she’s dropping off voluntarily, yet some say Herzog pushed her off. This is a late-breaking story. The details are not yet clear. Neither are the implications. Will Herzog be helped or hurt by this move? A highly dramatic election has just gotten far more dramatic.
  2. Herzog says, “I trust the Obama Administration to get a good deal” on the Iran nuclear issue. In a must-read interview in The Atlantic, the left-wing Israeli opposition leader indicates that he trusts the direction that President Obama is going in with regards to Iran. This is a huge dividing line for Israelis who increasingly distrust the American administration and fear Iran is being given a green light to build not just one nuclear weapon but a whole arsenal.
  3. Herzog proudly says he will divide Jerusalem and roll Israel back to the pre-1967 lines (or close) to create a sovereign Palestinian state. In another must-read interview, Herzog is not shy about saying he believes Israel should give up part of its own capital to the PLO. This is another huge dividing line for Israelis.
  4. That said, Herzog has not talked much about following Obama’s lead on Iran or dividing Jerusalem but rather focused on socio-economic issues. The theory of his campaign has been to blur differences with Netanyahu on security matters, and accentuate them on domestic and economic affairs. But several interviews Herzog has given has given us a clearer window on his instincts and objectives, and could rattle voters as they head to the polls.
  5. UPDATE: On Monday, Netanyahu said he would not allow a sovereign Palestinian state to be established if he is re-elected. This is a change in his position. He previously stated that he would support a demilitarized Palestinian state in its leadership fully acknowledged Israel as a Jewish state. Over the past several years, however, he has become convinced the current Palestinian leadership is not ready, willing or able to make such a commitment. “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel,” Netanyahu said. “The left has buried its head in the sand time and after time and ignores this, but we are realistic and understand.”

Please pray for the people of Israel as we head to the polls on Tuesday. Please pray that above all the Lord’s will is done. As we read in Daniel chapter two, the Lord removes kings and establishes kings according to His sovereign will. Amen.

[Stay tuned to this blog and my Twitter account for updates]

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