Featured in vol 30 issue no.3 July Bible Magazine Summer 2017
We completed our last update just before Britain sent the formal letter of intent to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. On March 29th, 2017, the letter was duly hand-delivered to the European council president, Donald Tusk and the 2-year negotiation period has begun.
What a lot has happened since then! Mrs May, the UK Prime Minister decided to call a snap election to try to build up her majority in Parliament. This spectacularly backfired and she ended up losing the majority that she had! This has deep consequences for the Brexit talks which begin in earnest this week (19th June) and for her own position as Party leader of the Conservatives.
There have also been three recent terrorist attacks, one at Manchester with 22 killed and the other two in London. On top of this there was a tragic fire in a big block of high-rise flats in central London where the death-toll is thought to be in triple figures.
It has been a very difficult time for Mrs May and her leadership skills have been sorely tried, and many think they have been found wanting.
Meanwhile it has been election time in France and in the 2nd round of voting on June 18th, the new President, Emmanuel Marcon, France’s youngest President, has dramatically proved the pollster wrong by gaining a strong majority of seats in the French Assembly. His own party which was only formed in 2016, La République En Marche! (REM), is in an alliance with the Democratic Movement (MoDem) and provisional figures indicate that they now control 350 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly. Voter turn-out was very low but it gives him the mandate that he needs to move France forwards after a series of weak governments. This is a centralist Party, Marcon wants the EU to succeed and work with Germany in a post-Brexit world. His main problem is lack of experience, it is such a young party and there are not many experienced politicians in it to guide him.
This will give Mrs Merkel the opportunity to show Germany’s leadership within the EU.
France plays an important role in any negotiations. She is the largest EU country by area (almost as large as Germany and the UK put together!), No. 2 in population and No. 3 as far as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is concerned
The outcome of these two elections, in the UK and France, potentially will play an important role in the negotiations over Brexit as we see an historical reshaping of Europe with Britain departing to play her role of being “the Merchants of Tarshish” (Eze.38:13), leaving a core of EU states to join even closer together, to form the final manifestation of the Beast system as described in Revelation ch’s 16-19.
Meanwhile Russia continues her military build up and advancement to surround Europe and Turkey. We also have Mr Trump, re-engaging the US in the Middle East, following his visit to the region.
Making sense of the UK 2017 election results
Background. Political commentators on last year’s Brexit vote described it as a political earthquake; we are now experiencing the many aftershocks that follow a major earthquake! The political order has been greatly shaken. Following the Brexit vote in June 2016 and Mr David Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister, there was a bloodbath, with many political contenders for the job falling. Mrs May emerged as the unlikely winner without a vote needing to be taken. She set about preparing Britain for Brexit, despite having been a Remainer (i.e. not in favour of leaving the EU). She picked up the mood of the country and carried the country in preparing Britain for the step the majority, albeit by only a small margin, had voted for – Brexit. She did a good job of this and in March 2017 a letter was handed to the EU announcing Britain was triggering Article 50, which was the concluding section of the Lisbon Treaty which set out what had to be done if a country wanted to exit the EU. There is a 2-year time slot allowed for all the negotiations. Having received the letter triggering Article 50, the EU then meet to work out an agreed strategy to deal with the situation. Having done this, the date was duly set for the commencement of these talks in earnest for June 19th, 2017.
Unexpected election call
With the main Opposition Party—the Labour Party—in apparent disarray with its controversial leader, Jeremy Corbyn, seemingly very unpopular within his own party, and Mrs May’s Conservative Party soaring in popularity in the opinion polls, Mrs May took the decision to call for a snap election in a bid to increase her majority in the House of Commons, the British Parliament. May had hoped to increase the Conservative’s majority to “strengthen [her] hand in the Brexit negotiations” (Guardian 02-May-17)
The call was unexpected as she had earlier ruled out such a step. It is now emerging that the EU leaders were encouraging her in doing this.
Theresa May was urged to call the general election by Jean-Claude Juncker, it has been reported.
The President of the European Commission apparently advised Ms May to call the election saying her 17-seat majority would not be enough during Brexit negotiations.
Mr Juncker allegedly said having a larger majority would help Ms May during “pinch points”, such as determining the UK’s divorce bill.
“During bilaterals, in the margins of summits, Juncker repeatedly told her he thought she should do it,” an EU source told The Observer.
“People don’t understand. We want a deal more than anyone. We are professionals, we have a mandate to get a deal and we want to be successful in that,” a second diplomat added. The Independent 12-Jun-17
We also now know that all was not well within the Cabinet, the inner circle of the highest Ministers who guide the policy of their leader. Two unelected advisors, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy. appear to have had a strong influence on Mrs May and many things were done which didn’t have Cabinet approval. When these two advisors attended Cabinet meetings the atmosphere was described as “toxic”. The calling of the election and much of the Manifesto seemed to have been driven by these advisors rather than the Ministers.
While she was enjoying such success in the polls that didn’t matter too much. But certain items added to the Manifesto greatly backfired, and the Conservative Party came under attack for their apparent attack on pensioners and those suffering from dementia. Polls showed a sharp drop in the support for her party.
On the other hand, the Labour Party played a strong hand to the younger generation, especially those voting for the first time, with a pledge to abolish fees for attending University and also a pledge to re-instate free school meals for poorer families and an ending of austerity measures. With the use of electronic media, tweets and a series of low-budget short videos, this message was spread very effectively. The number of young people who registered to vote and indeed did vote was far higher than in the previous elections. They mainly gave their support to Labour.
Despite the drop in ratings, Mrs May was expected to increase her small majority in Parliament. A terrorist attack against young people attending a pop-idol concert in Manchester which left 22 dead and 120 injured, occurred on May 22nd. It was expected that this would favour the Conservatives, rather than Labour whose leader’s links to terrorist organisations had been frequently aired. Then there was another attack in London, on London Bridge and Soho, which took the lives of eight people and left at least 48 injured., again one felt that this would help Mrs May.
Polling Day – 8th June 2017
There was a palpable shock when the results were released from the exit polls taken during polling day, which asked people who they had voted for. Under UK legislation, this data cannot be released until after the polling booths closed at 10pm.
When the two main news channels released their findings at 10.01 that Britain was facing a hung Parliament, meaning no one party had complete control, there was disbelief, even in the Labour Party!
As the results trickled in throughout the night it was clear that the gamble of calling a snap election had spectacularly failed. The small majority that the Conservatives did have had been squandered, leaving the Conservatives short of the magic figure of needing 326 seats out of the 650 seats to ensure they just had a majority.
The final result was:
Conservatives: 317 seats (excluding the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow)
Labour: 262 seats
Scottish Nationalist Party: 35 seats
Liberal Democrats: 12
Democratic Unionist Party: 10 seats
Others: 14 seats
The number of seats needed is slightly complicated by the fact that the Northern Ireland Sinn Féin party, do not send their elected MP’s to sit in Parliament as they refuse to give an oath of allegiance to the Queen. They won seven seats, so that the Conservatives have ended up just five seats short of what they need. Allowing for the one seat for the speaker of the House and three more for Deputy Speakers, who do not vote, this effectively leaves them three seats short.
As far as day to day running is concerned, this is fine, as not all MP’s turn up and the Opposition members are less likely to be present. It does matter in crucial items where a “3-line whip” is imposed and MP’s must attend.
Mrs May was greatly humbled and her Cabinet made it clear that these two advisors had to go and that she would have to change her style and be inclusive of the experience and wishes of her Ministers.
Politics is a cruel career!
It would be surprising if she continued in the longer-term as leader. Although there were initial calls for her to stand aside, faced with the commencement of Brexit talks, a more sombre mood now seems to wish for her to continue in the short-term as negotiations begin which will determine the future of Britain. May-be her work is done. She was the right person to follow up the Brexit vote and to trigger the Article 50 letter. She may not not the right person to thrash out an agreement with Europe, that is, if an agreement can be made.
In order to have a sufficient majority, Mrs May has to seek out sympathetic partners who she can count on to uphold the government on crucial votes.
The Democratic Unionist Party. At the time of writing, negotiations are still taking place to get the support of one of the smaller parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This Northern Ireland Protestant party was set up by Ian Paisley in 1971, at the height of the “Troubles” with Catholic pitched against Protestant. The Republican Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) wanted to join Northern Ireland back to Southern Ireland (Eire), while the DUP wanted to continue union with England. Ian Paisley led this party for 37 years and steering it in 2007 to a power-sharing deal with Sinn Féin. The current leader is Mrs Arlene Foster.
This strongly Protestant party shares similar views to the Conservatives on Brexit and other issues. It makes sense to form an alliance with them as they have worked together in the past. They are not seeking a coalition agreement as the Conservatives did with the Liberal Democrats in 2010 under David Cameron. They are looking for an agreement to support the Conservatives at crucial votes. In return for a promise of support there will be demands. What the DUP campaigned for is Brexit, but with a “soft” border between North and South Ireland. The Irish Republic is one of the (currently) 28 EU members. As part of the UK membership, Northern Ireland (NI), has had a seamless border with her southern neighbour. They are anxious that this continues as much of the “exports” of the divided Ireland is between the two parts. Full border control would make life very difficult. The DUP has strong views on abortion and same-sex marriages. Both of which are not allowed in NI. Conservatives are anxious, sadly, that these matters are not imposed on the rest of the UK.
One can perhaps see the benefit of this cooperation. Ian Paisley was the Nigel Farage of earlier days. (Mr Farage is the ex United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader who as a former member of the European Parliament had many bruising battles with the EU). When the Pope (John Paul II) addressed the European Parliament in 1988, Ian Paisley stood up and denounced him as Anti-Christ and was bundled out of the building. He understood what the EU was really about, with its Roman Catholic foundations. May-be this is the way the angels are ensuring Britain’s break with Europe is deeper. At the moment, the UK still wants to have an influence in European affairs, and a continuation of its membership of the Custom’s Union, the existing electronic border customs system that allows easy transit of goods. The EU sees this as a great bargaining chip. They will want freedom of movement of people too. But this is what the Conservatives and the DUP don’t want. Both want to have immigration controllable rather than an inbuilt right for people to move here. It may well end up as unbridgeable and so an agreement can’t be made. Britain will be forced to replace the European market with other markets. We know there is no shortage of countries that want to sign free trade agreements, but a “hard” Brexit will be economically quite costly and in the short-term very disruptive. Markets hate change and uncertainty.
Now the DUP are, according to articles in the Jerusalem Post and the Jewish News 10-Jun-17, very friendly to Israel and the Jews—as indeed Mrs May is.
Northern Ireland is the UK’s bible belt. Like the American south, Christian Zionism is a potent force amongst Ulster’s church-going Protestant community, the traditional heartland of DUP support. Jewish News 10-Jun-17
They have acted strongly in favour of Israel in past Parliamentary debates, despite their being fewer than 80 Jews in NI! They have been very active to stamp out anti-Semitism.
The Israelis were quite pleased at the thought of the DUP being involved in the running of Britain as they would be pressing for the UK to turn to Israel and, I would assume, the Middle East for new markets.
The Israelis also saw another advantage in the immediate fall out from this messy election result. The pound sterling fell about 2% in the aftermath of the vote. Many Israeli start-up companies eye Britain as a good market. Time-zone wise and physical distance give Britain advantages over the US. A weaker pound lowers their costs of doing business in Britain and increases the value of any future profits being taken out.
Uniting Britain. Another result of the redistribution of seats in the UK election is that it puts paid to the breakup of the Union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The DUP support Union and in Scotland the Scottish Nationalist Party, which campaigned on having a second referendum on Scotland breaking away in order to retain EU membership, suffered the loss of many seats. It is clear that the message of Ezekiel 38:13 concerning the Merchants of Tarshish, will be an apt one. The UK is a collection of trading countries. A recent article (Star Tribune 22-Feb-17) used the term merchants to describe the UK’s current activities in the Middle East!
EU Regulations. To make matters easy for business, the UK government adopted wholesale the whole raft of EU regulations and made they part of UK regulations. The intention is to go through them and discard the many that are of little value or clearly hinder trade. Unfortunately, with Mrs May’s reduced majority and with many of the MP’s who have been re-elected being “Remainers”, it will make it much more difficult to agree on which to repeal.
EU frustration. An article in the Guardian 12-Jun-17 indicates the frustration that the EU feels over Brexit negotiations.
In a sign of growing impatience with the shambolic state of the British side of the talks, senior EU sources said that if London insisted on talking about a free trade deal before the issues of its divorce bill, citizens rights and the border in Ireland were sufficiently resolved, it would be met with a blunt response.
“If they don’t accept the phased negotiations then we will take a year to draw up a new set of negotiating guidelines for Barnier,” one senior EU diplomat said, adding that the EU could not understand Britain’s continued claim that it would be able to discuss trade and the divorce terms in parallel.
The EU’s 27 leaders formally agreed to give Barnier a narrow set of tasks at a summit in April and they have no intention of rethinking the so-called phased approach when they meet May at a European summit on 22-23 June.
They want to set an example of Britain to deter other nations from following her example.
Mrs May campaigned on a “hard” Brexit, making a complete break but hoping for some benefits in exchange for the EU’s access to the UK markets. Because of not receiving a mandate for this, she may wish to modify to a softer Brexit, which would displease those who want to leave. However, Day 1 of the Brexit talks have indicated that Europe is looking for a complete break—a “hard” Brexit. It adds uncertainty and confusion to the Brexit talks. The time frame is very short, there is effectively little more than a year left, as any agreements must then be ratified by all member states.
Although many of us thought that Britain having a stronger hand would be a good thing, perhaps we shall see that in God’s Foreknowledge this was a mistaken conclusion. It may need a weaker position to move things along the Divine pathways. Britain has to separate from Europe. Perhaps with DUP support it will result in a more independent Britain, less involved in a Roman Catholic Europe and re-adopting the Protestant thinking that powered Britain to great things in the past. We are humbled by the Divine power that sees not as man sees but to the furtherance of His Plan and Purpose.
The angels work behind the scenes, nudging people on paths they may not go of their own volition, but circumstances lead them that way.
All is in God’s hands; how thankful we are that it is not left to man to decide. How sensible our historic stand not to take part in election voting! God indeed rules in the Kingdom of Men.
Like in so many issues it is not for us to say to God what we think ought to happen. God’s purpose reigns supreme. Leaders are as pawns in angelic hands. When they have fulfilled their role, then they are replaced.
British Jewish Community concerned
The rise of the UK Labour Party is giving concerns for Jews living in the UK. Mr Corbyn’s anti-Semitic views are fairly well documented. His past links to terrorist organisations were also highlighted, yet this did not deter voters, with Labour increasing their seats by 30 – a 30% increase.
Brexit talks begin
The planned Brexit talks began on schedule on Monday 19th June, the UK side is being headed by David Davis. Brexit Secretary and Michel Barnier is the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. The EU were in no mood to compromise, and it was clear that Britain’s wish to discuss in parallel how the breakup would proceed and how future relations would shape up, was going to be set aside. At the end of the first day of talks what was being planned was first agreeing the size of the Brexit departure bill and also how EU citizens in the UK would fare before looking at the thorny issue of what kind of trade agreements could be reached. As Mr Barnier put it:
I am not in a frame of mind to make concessions, or ask for concessions. It’s not about punishment, it is not about revenge.
Basically, we are implementing the decision taken by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, and unravel 43 years of patiently-built relations.
I will do all I can to put emotion to one side and stick to the facts, the figures, and the legal basis, and work with the United Kingdom to find an agreement in that frame of mind.
The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union, it is not the other way around. The United Kingdom is going to leave the European Union, single market and the customs union, not the other way around. So, we each have to assume our responsibility and the consequences of our decisions. And the consequences are substantial. The Guardian 20-Jun-17
It promises to be a tough time ahead.
Germany and Mrs Merkel
We turn now to Europe to see the progress that is being made there to prepare for a post-Brexit Europe. Germany is the undisputed leader of the EU. Last year there was talk of Mrs Merkel not being chosen as Chancellor as her ratings had fallen and new challengers were jockeying for power. However, in the build up to elections scheduled for 24th September 2017, her Christian Democratic Union party has done well in the primary elections and there is now little talk of her losing her job!
We see the EU increasingly distrustful of the US and Mr Trump in particular. He has made it clear that NATO needs to have financial support from Europe, they can’t count on her help and support if they are not putting substantially more into the NATO budget.
Trump lectured leaders from the 27 other NATO countries in his debut speech, demanding they “finally contribute their fair share” because it is “not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States” that they spend so much more on defence than the alliance’s other members.
The speech made no reference to the NATO pledge for members to defend each other if they’re attacked, which is set out in Article 5 of the alliance’s treaty. Diplomats were expecting to hear Trump mention his commitment to the “collective defence” clause in his remarks. But its absence may have instead compounded fears about Trump’s attitude towards NATO.
Trump’s behaviour seemed to puzzle other leaders and NATO diplomats involved in organising the meeting. EurActiv 25-May-17
Having met with Mr Trump at a summit meeting of NATO and at a G7 meeting, Mrs Merkel opined that: “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.” Daily Telegraph 29-May-17
“Thanks to trump, Germany can’t rely on the United states.”
Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Trump last week, saying that Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands.”
Offering a tough review in the wake of Trump’s trip to visit EU, NATO and Group of Seven leaders last week, Merkel told a packed Bavarian beer hall rally that the days when Europe could rely on others was “over to a certain extent. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.”
This is an enormous change in political rhetoric. While the public is more familiar with the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States, the German-U.S. relationship has arguably been more important. One of the key purposes of NATO was to embed Germany in an international framework that would prevent it from becoming a threat to European peace as it had been in World War I and World War II. In the words of NATO’s first secretary general, NATO was supposed “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Now, Merkel is suggesting that the Americans aren’t really in, and, by extension, Germany and Europe are likely to take on a much more substantial and independent role than they have in the past 70 years.
Merkel’s rhetoric is clearly intended to imply that as the transatlantic relationship grows weaker, the European Union will grow stronger. When she links Britain’s departure from the European Union with U.S. unreliability, she suggests that now that Britain is leaving, it will be possible for the EU to concentrate on getting its own affairs in order, propelled by a stronger relationship between Germany and France. Britain always wanted to keep transatlantic security institutions, such as NATO, strong, which sometimes meant pushing back against giving the EU a new security role. Now that Britain is no longer going to be part of the EU, it will no longer have veto power. Washington Post 28-May-17
If they can’t count on NATO to come to their aid, then Europeans have to look to themselves for defence. This is what scripture would point us to—the Beast in its past manifestations was an independent power. Yet in this final manifestation—to change the Biblical symbol—of the Nebuchadnezzar’s Image of Daniel chapter 2, we would expect deep cooperation between all the elements that make up the Image, for not only is it able to stand on its own two feet, but when it is broken all the elements are present.
Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. Dan. 2:45
It would be reasonable to see an independent Europe, yet cooperating with the Dragon power (Rev.16) of Russia, which forms the Eastern leg of Nebuchadnezzar’s Image.
EU to outline plan to use funds for defense for first time
The European Union is mulling a €1bn (£870m) defence fund, as Britain’s impending departure raises hopes of deeper military cooperation in the bloc. The EU’s executive arm will outline plans on Wednesday for a fund to pool research into new military technology, such as drones, air-to-air refuelling planes and cyber-defence systems.
In an implicit challenge to Britain as it heads for the EU exit, the European commission will say that no single EU country – not even the largest – can afford to develop the most costly military equipment alone. “The development of a new generation of many major defence systems is today beyond the reach of a single EU member state,” states a draft paper seen by the Guardian. “‘More Europe’ in defence and security is clearly needed.”
If agreed by member states, it would be the first significant use of the EU budget for defence, although EU spending is likely to remain dominated by farm payments, road, rail and other infrastructure projects.
Sources in Brussels think the defence fund could rise to €1bn after 2021, following an initial €250m outlay in 2020 to kickstart new research projects. The figures have not been finalised and would have to be agreed by EU member states. Even if agreed, the defence fund would be a fraction of the EU budget – worth €155bn in 2016 – with almost three-quarters of spending earmarked for farmers and economic aid projects for poorer regions.
While European NATO countries have been inching up defence spending, Brussels is concerned that Europe gets less bang for its buck, because of overlaps and duplication. Europe has 178 different weapons systems, compared with 30 in the US, which increases equipment costs. One standard NATO helicopter was developed in 23 different versions to accommodate differing national specifications. Guardian 06-Jun-17
EU foreign and defense ministers, 06-Mar-17, agreed to create a joint command centre for the bloc’s military missions, a step towards more EU cooperation on security and defense. This is a step that Britain has long opposed saying that it detracts from NATO. The costs of an independent European army are ginormous. What has been proceeding, fairly quietly, is for smaller EU member states to integrate their own troops in with Germany’s.
German Army Continues to Swallow Its Neighbours
A Czech and Romanian brigade will be integrated into divisions of the German army. The agreement is to be signed at a meeting of NATO defense ministers tomorrow. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (faz), which broke the story on February 2, wrote, “The Bundeswehr is developing into the leading NATO army in Europe.”
The agreement is the most dramatic of a series of arrangements that Germany is negotiating to deepen its cooperation with other countries. The EU Observer summarized the faz’s report, noting, “The longer-term strategy would turn the Bundeswehr into the leading NATO army in Europe, with small countries integrating their military forces into the German command structures.”
Two-thirds of the Dutch army’s command structure began to integrate into the German army last year.
The faz wrote (Trumpet translation throughout): “This policy means Germany strengthens its own military power and, secondly, it creates practical road marks for the goal of European armed forces.”
The revolutionary handover of sovereignty from the Netherlands is already being seen as a proof of concept that other nations can follow, providing “the closest and most varied example of how far the military cooperation between two NATO states can go” (ibid).
Last year, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen set out her ambitions to create “a multinational Panzer division” by integrating soldiers from other nations into the German army.
Die Welt explained, “This should create a unit with up to 20,000 active soldiers, which should be operational by 2021— which would be the nucleus of a European army” (March 17). Now von der Leyen is taking further practical steps in that direction. The Czech 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade will be integrated into the 10th German Panzer Division and the Romanian 81st Mechanized Brigade will be assigned to Germany’s Rapid Force Division. These are not mere token forces. The Czech Republic is integrating one of its two combat brigades into the German army (this does not include combat support forces, such as the 13th Artillery Regiment). The Trumpet 14-Feb-17
Nord Stream 2
Russia meanwhile is ringing Europe with her bases as we saw in the last issue. At the same time, she is endeavouring to increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. In cooperation with Germany, the Russian Gazprom together with European partners, laid a gas pipeline linking Russia directly to Germany via the Baltic seabed. This neatly overcame any problems of pipes running overland through countries that could disrupt supplies. Ukraine was an important transit country for many of the gas pipelines that link Europe and Russia. Following disagreements between Russia and Ukraine, Russia determined to avoid this weak link by placing new routes on the seabed in international waters. The first of these Nord (North) Stream pipelines which link Russia and Germany was opened in 2011 and a second pipeline was laid in tandem which opened in 2012. Now Russia and Germany are looking at a 3rd and 4th pipeline—known as Nord Stream 2. This has upset several EU members whose countries have been transited in the past with land-based pipelines and who gain revenue from the gas as it flows across their country. They see it as a means of making Europe dependant on Russia without spreading the benefits. Interestingly the US Senate has just recently proposed tougher sanctions against Russia and involves sanctions against those building pipelines.
The most prominent target is the contentious Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to start pumping gas from Russia to Europe in 2019, and is a flagship project for Kremlin-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom.
“It sanctions those who . . . invest or support the construction of Russian energy export pipelines,” Mike Crapo, a Republican senator from Idaho who co-authored the amendment, said of the new proposal.
US opposition to the pipeline, which critics say is a geopolitical power play by Gazprom to increase its dominance of Europe’s energy supply, could become a big headache for the project’s European partners Shell, Engie, OMV, Wintershall and Uniper, who have agreed to pay half of the €9.5bn cost. The Financial Times 15-Jun-17
These sanctions have yet to be put before the House of Representatives for their approval. It may well represent another rift between Europe and the US. It may well be seen as the US interfering with European matters. We shall have to wait and see. If Nord Stream 2 is constructed then it will greatly increase Germany’s economic position, ensuring that the two countries work together, rather than in opposition.
Israel an energy supplier to Europe?
Pressure from within Europe to diversify their gas suppliers to reduce dependence on Russia, is helping Israel! One of the schemes that the EU is backing is the construction of a long underwater gas pipeline which would link Israeli and Cypriot gas fields to Europe via Greece. This is in addition to the laying of an electrical cable linking Israel, Cyprus and Greece.
Mr Netanyahu meet with the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, in Greece, in mid-June, after the three countries signed a joint declaration in Tel Aviv in April to promote construction of the pipeline.
“There’s a simple fact with Cyprus, Greece and Israel that brings us very close together. We are all democracies — real democracies,” Netanyahu said.
“And when you look at our region… that’s not a common commodity.”
The Prime Minister spoke of the natural partnership between the three countries and the “climate of friendship” between them.
The three countries now hold frequent joint military and civil protection exercises, including the recent “Kinyras-Saul” exercises that involved special forces from Cyprus and Israel. Times of Israel 15-Jun-17
And so we wonder and watch and wait patiently for our Master’s coming. We live in a fast-moving world, where there are so many signposts pointing to the nearness of that wonderful day. May he find us alert and watching.
Brother Don Pearce
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