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Exclusive: My conversations with senior Arab officials here in Washington regarding “annexation,” just hours before President Trump is set to make a “big announcement” on the Middle East.

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(Washington, D.C.) — The White House is signaling that President Trump is set to make a “big announcement” today regarding the Middle East. 

The big question: Will Mr. Trump decide to back the Israeli government’s desire to incorporate large sections of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) into sovereign Israeli territory, or ask Israel to refrain from “annexing” such territory for the time being, in order to keep trying to advance the Arab-Israeli peace process?

Last week, I met in Jerusalem with senior advisors to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and separately with a senior advisor to Defense Minister Benny Gantz to better understand their positions. I also spoke with Palestinian Muslims and Christians to hear their views. With each of them, we discussed at length how American Evangelicals are likely to see the issue (for more on that, here is the column I wrote last week for The Jerusalem Post.)

Since arriving in Washington several days ago, I have had extensive meetings with Ambassadors and senior diplomats from Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan to hear their views and discuss the wide range of viewpoints in the American Evangelical community over how best to advance peace. 

This what I’m hearing:

  • The Arab leaders believe the Trump administration is preparing to give the green light to “limited annexation” — not the full 30% of the West Bank as Netanyahu wants, and not the Jordan Valley, but perhaps about 5% of the West Bank. (They cautioned me, however, that they are still not entirely sure of the President’s final decision, that things are fluid, that Mr. Trump may not be 100% settled on his course of action, and their governments still hope to persuade Mr. Trump that for the sake of peace this is the wrong move at the wrong time.)
  • Every senior Arab and Muslim official that I spoke with are unified in total opposition to Israeli annexation of any amount — they do not see “limited annexation” as an acceptable compromise — they are very unified, operating in close coordination with each other, and fully backing Jordan’s King Abdullah. No daylight. 
  • One told me that Israel’s pending move would be “catastrophic” for the steadily warming relations between Israel and the Gulf Arab states which has never been better in history, and keep getting better month by month. “This will set Arab-Israeli relations back by years.”
  • None of the Arab officials can comprehend the urgency — why is Israel doing this now? Why this summer? Why would Netanyahu, the architect of Israel’s successful regional strategy to build closer relations with the Arab states, choose to damage these relations so badly? Does he realize just how much damage this will do, or does he think this will all blow over like the Jerusalem decision? They were admant that this is very different than the Jerusalem Embassy move. That was an American decision. This is a provocative, unilateral Israeli move that will force the Arab states to publicly and strongly condemn Israel and force them to back away from closer ties with Israel.
  • Another Arab official told me, “This is going to give a win not to the Arab states who have made peace with Israel, or those who are steadily moving towards peace with Israel. It’s going to give a win to Iran, Turkey, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera, and all the forces of extremism in the region. What’s the point? Why give them the win?”
  • All are particularly worried about an explosion in the Kingdom of Jordan — that the streets will erupt in intense protests against Israel, that the King will need to take dramatic measures to pull back from close working relations with Israel. I didn’t press any of them regarding exactly what steps Jordan may take, but many options are on the table and being actively contemplated.
  • What struck me as particularly interesting was that the tone of the leaders I spoke to was not so much bitter anger at Netanyahu and the Israeli government but astonishment, bewilderment and serious frustration that after so much progress in recent years that Israel would be willing to throw that all away for land that Israel already effectively controls and that no one is threatening to take away.
  • There is also bewilderment at why Israel would make such a highly controversial move — and risk incurring condemnation from the European Union, Asian countries, the Arab world, etc — before knowing whether or not President Trump will be reelected and there to stand beside Israel in such a decision over the next four years. Vice President Biden and his team has already made it clear that they are strongly opposed to Israeli “annexation.” Most Democrats in Congress are opposed as well. This will severely damage bipartisan support for Israel in Congress. What if the White House, the House of Representatives and possibly the majority of the Senate is in Democrat hands come January?

Now would be a good time to be praying for the peace of Jerusalem and the region, and praying that Israeli and American leaders will have true wisdom at this critical moment. Please pray for the Palestinian people who are feeling increasingly hopeless and left out of the process and seeing the U.S. and Israel make decisions without them. And pray, too, for the leaders and peoples of the moderate Arab states who are increasingly in favor of peace with Israel and see extraordinary opportunity for enhanced prosperity for all sides if treaties can be signed and trade relationships opened. 

Strange times in the Epicenter these days.

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Announcing my next novel: “The Beirut Protocol.” Here are all the details — an exclusive from The Real Book Spy website.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — This week, the leading website covering thrillers and spy novels broke the story on the title, cover and release date for my next novel.

EXCLUSIVE: SEE THE COVER ART FOR JOEL C. ROSENBERG’S NEXT THRILLER (with details) by Ryan Steck, “The Real Book Spy” website

On March 9, 2021, Marcus Ryker returns to action in The Beirut Protocol, the latest headline-beating thriller from New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg.

Following the events of The Jerusalem Assassin, which came out earlier this year, Ryker—a special agent working with the CIA—will face his toughest mission yet: staying alive behind enemy lines.

Ambushed on foreign soil, Ryker and his team suddenly find themselves captured and surrounded by danger. Worse yet, should the terrorists who captured him learn his true identity, all bets are off—and he knows they’ll make an example out of him by executing him live on the internet for all to see . . .

Breaking his previous trend of writing trilogies, something Rosenberg first confirmed during our wide-ranging interview back in March, The Beirut Protocol marks the fourth book (After The Kremlin Conspiracy, the Persian Gamble, and The Jerusalem Assassin) in his popular new franchise. Only Jon Bennett, who served as the protagonist of The Last Jihad series (five books) will have had more screen time than Ryker, whose background and skillset better resembles the traditional thriller mold that we’ve seen from other current literary stars such as Mitch Rapp (Vince Flynn) and Gabriel Allon (Daniel Silva).

Though he wasn’t sure how long Ryker might hang around, Rosenberg did say in March, “I think Marcus Ryker is my favorite character,” and there’s no doubt that fans feel the same way. Marcus has quickly become one of the genre’s premier heroes, and when you combine his physicality with Rosenberg’s uncanny ability to constantly predict future events and beat headlines, it’s easy to see why The Beirut Protocol becomes the first must-read thriller hitting bookstores next spring.

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Will American Evangelicals support immediate Israeli annexation? Well, it’s complicated, as I explain in my latest column for The Jerusalem Post.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Please don’t stop praying for the peace of Jerusalem and the rest of the Epicenter. Day by day, things are getting more and more interesting.

Here are the first few paragraphs from my new column today in The Jerusalem Post. To read the full column, please click here. Hope you find it helpful in navigating the most controversial and contentious issue we’re dealing with here right now.

WILL AMERICAN EVANGELICALS SUPPORT IMMEDIATE ANNEXATION?

By Joel C. Rosenberg

Will American Evangelicals support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he decides to immediately and unilaterally annex – or apply Israeli sovereignty over – some 30 percent of the land commonly known as the “West Bank,” and referred to in the Bible as “Judea and Samaria,” as early as next month?

It is an interesting question, and one that I find myself being asked again and again in recent weeks by Israeli officials, Arab leaders, Mideast analysts and reporters here in Israel.

However, most Evangelicals in the U.S. have not even heard of the “annexation debate.” In the last two months, I have not received a single email, text or phone call from an American Evangelical about this. Not even from leaders. Some probably are keeping an eye on the discussion, but the vast, vast majority are not. Why? Because they are, rightly, concentrating on far more pressing domestic matters – COVID-19, lockdowns, massive unemployment, how to reopen society and reboot the economy, when to re-open their churches, how to deal with the horror of the George Floyd murder, and how to reform the criminal justice system while reestablishing law and order in American cities beset by riots and looting.

That said, for those here in Israel and the Arab world who are understandably interested in how Evangelicals may react, let me break the issue down into a series of questions and offer my best assessment of each. Such assessments are based on extensive polling of Evangelicals that I have commissioned in recent years, as well as conversations with thousands of pastors, ministry leaders and rank-and-file members….

[To read the rest of the column, please click here.]

Note: These are my own personal views, offered in my private capacity as a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, not as the founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization that takes no positions on political or legislative issues.

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United Arab Emirates warns Israelis directly that annexation could destroy normalization efforts with Gulf Arab states. Senior official writes first-ever op-ed in Hebrew published in Israeli paper and records a video in English. How will Netanyahu and Gantz respond?

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — This is the huge story here in Israel today.

It confirms what I reported in my column in The Jerusalem Post last week, that if Israel moves forward with plans to annex large swaths of the West Bank this summer this will severely damage and possibly destroy the rapidly warming ties between Israel and the Gulf States.

The big question now is: How will Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz respond?

Here is the short video of the UAE Ambassador speaking in English to Israelis.

Here is the English version of the op-ed that was published in Hebrew by Yediot Aharonot, that everyone is talking about today. I encourage you to read it in full.

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Here are just two of the front-page news stories in Israel covering these developments:

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The big story in Israel: Netanyahu wants to annex parts of the West Bank in July. Will this help or hurt Trump? As I told a reporter, pro-Israel Evangelicals in the U.S. aren’t even paying attention. Here are excerpts from the interview.

annexation-Netanyahu-map(Jerusalem, Israel) — Israel is successfully managing the COVID-19 crisis, and beginning to reopen the society and reboot our economy. But we may create a new crisis if we move forward with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan to annex large swaths of Judea and Samaria as early as next month.

This is a huge story here and reporters keep asking me how Evangelicals are reacting.

Here are excerpts from the interview I did with Amir Tibon, Washington correspondent for the Israeli daily, Haaretz:

  •  “Joel Rosenberg, an evangelical author and analyst who lives in Jerusalem, believes that annexation isn’t going to make much of a difference for most evangelical voters. ‘This is driven by Israeli politics, not American politics,’ he says. ‘Most evangelicals in America are focused right now exclusively on domestic issues: the COVID-19 crisis, the race tensions, unemployment and the fact that churches are not yet open. I don’t think most evangelicals have even heard about annexation.'”….
  • “Rosenberg has taken several groups of evangelical leaders to meet heads of Arab states in recent years, and tells Haaretz his contacts in the Arab world are struggling to understand the logic behind an Israeli annexation move at this time. ‘The relationship between Israel and the Arab world is as good as it’s ever been,’ he says, ‘and my contacts are asking me: why risk that right now? What’s the urgency?’”…..
  • “There are definitely evangelical leaders who will be happy about any opportunity to incorporate biblical lands into Israel. But I don’t agree with the analysis that Trump will benefit politically with the average evangelical voter by supporting annexation. If you believe Trump is pro-Israel, you’ve already been convinced by the embassy move and his pressure against Iran. Annexation isn’t going to change your view on this issue.”…..
  • “Rosenberg says he believes the main motivation behind the annexation push ‘has nothing to do with evangelicals,’ but instead is based on ‘fears [in Netanyahu’s sphere] that Trump won’t win a second term. But my question to people who make that argument is: If that’s what you’re predicting, how does Israel benefit from punching Joe Biden in the nose?” 

Note: I made these comments in my private capacity as a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, not as the founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization that takes no positions on political or legislative issues.

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Join Secretary of State Pompeo and me July 17 for a discussion of Mideast peace, annexation, the Gulf Arab States and the future of the Epicenter. Register now.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — On Friday, July 17th, I look forward to joining U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in addressing The Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa. I understand that more than 600 people have already registered and due to COVID-19 restrictions space is limited — so please register today before the event is sold out.

The Secretary and I will be discussing President Trump’s Mideast peace plan — widely known as the “Deal of the Century” — along with the Israeli government’s interest in annexing large swaths of the Judea and Samaria (a.k.a, the West Bank), and the prospects for historic peace deals between Israel and the Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia.

You may recall that Secretary Pompeo and I were scheduled to do a joint appearance in Iowa in March as part of the launch of my new political thriller, The Jerusalem Assassin. Unfortunately, that event had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This is the rescheduled event. It has been expanded to include other a number of other speakers focusing a range of economic, social policy and religious freedom matters. They include Mike Lindell, the founder and CEO of MyPillow.com, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Senator Joni Ernst, former Senator Rick Santorum and numerous others.

Hope to see you there.

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Israel’s momentous decision: While most Americans are rightly focused on coronavirus, soaring unemployment and race riots, Israel is about to make a fateful, risky decision about annexing part of the West Bank. Why? Here’s my new column for The Jerusalem Post.

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(Jerusalem Post) — It has been painful few weeks in the United States. Yet something dramatic and potentially very problematic is developing here in Israel.

First, the U.S.

  • More than 105,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus
  • Tens of millions of Americans are out of work
  • Businesses are poised to go bankrupt
  • An intense debate is underway over how fast to reopen society
  • Then comes the horrific, unconscionable murder of an African American man in Minneapolis named George Floyd by a group of police officers, a terrible injustice that rightly sparked outrage all over the country and the world.
  • One of the officers involved has been arrested and charged with murder — but all of them should be, even as investigations should take place at the local, state and national level (via the FBI) to figure out how this could possibly have taken place and who was responsible.
  • Many turned out on the streets to peacefully protest a justice system that too often does not provide African Americans the justice and protection they deserve.
  • But criminals, thugs and domestic terrorists then seized on the crisis to unleash riots, looting, fires, and ugly, violent attacks in cities all over the U.S.

Now, Israel.

  • We, too, are trying to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
  • We have far fewer deaths, per capita, than the U.S.
  • And by God’s grace and wise leadership, we are successfully beginning to reopen our society.

That said, Israel’s government is now actively discussing the prospect of holding a vote in our parliament as early as July 1st to “annex” — or impose Israeli sovereign law over — up to 30% of the hotly disputed territory known to most of the world as the “West Bank.”

There are pros, but there are many cons, to such a move. But one also has to ask, “Why now?” Such a move is likely to create a firestorm of regional and global criticism against Israel. 

I examine the momentous decision Israel is about to make in this new column in The Jerusalem Post. Hope you’ll take a moment to read it, to comment on it, and to share it on social media. Thanks. 

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