Carrie Hart
News Analyst

Israel strengthens ties with its global allies

Israel Allies Foundation Chairman's Conference participants, at The David Citadel Hotel , Jerusalem, March 2024. Photo by Carrie Hart.
Israel Allies Foundation Chairman's Conference participants meeting at the David Citadel Hotel Jerusalem Israel. Photo by Carrie Hart.

Legislators in parliaments, worldwide, participated in the annual Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) Chairman’s Conference, in Jerusalem, March 3-5, 2024. According to conference organizers, it marked the largest political solidarity mission to gather in Israel’s capital city since the Hamas massacre in Israeli southern communities on October 7, 2023.

The conference held special significance this year, coming only a week before Ramadan, as Israel has faced violent threats from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, resulting in increased terror attacks in Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria. Among the future challenges to Israel’s homeland is an expanded war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, including preparations by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for a multifront war against the Jewish nation… all instigated by Iran.

The delegates that attended the conference were among the most ardent supporters of Israel in their respective parliaments, according to Josh Reinstein, president of the IAF. He stated: “Amidst tumultuous times, the convergence of these distinguished leaders amplifies the commitment to fortify Israel’s standing and confront prevailing threats with unwavering resolve.”

Reinstein added, that the Chairman’s Conference was a steadfast dedication to safeguarding shared values. He said it translated biblical support for Israel into real political action. Throughout the conference participants focused on Israel’s security, along with international cooperation in safeguarding Israel’s future.

At a special luncheon meeting for the parliamentarians, Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz expressed what is needed at this time. “The world has to stop Iran, today, to prevent war tomorrow. Our enemies are trying to deny the state of Israel the right of self-defense. We cannot accept it.”

Katz then announced that he is leading a new initiative, establishing a global forum, to fight antisemitism and incitement against the Jewish People, and against the state of Israel.  According to Katz, “This forum will include the society and the government of Israel; world Jewish communities; and friends of Israel around the world.”

Katz addressed conference leaders on how they can help the Israeli government in this effort. “I call you to join us in this important holy mission. Only, together, we can defeat these enemies, the new Nazis, led by Iran and the radical extreme Islam.”

Bert-Jan Ruissen, a member of the Dutch Parliament, as well as the European Parliament, shared his expression of solidarity for Israel with the luncheon participants. As a spokesman and negotiator for Israeli issues at the European Parliament, Ruissen described a specific resolution that was recently adapted. “That resolution underlined that Israel has a full right to defend itself. In that same resolution, we condemned, very clearly, Hamas and the atrocities they committed. We also asked in our resolution for an immediate release of all the hostages.”

Ruissen added that the European Parliament agreed Hamas must be eliminated. “I don’t see a way forward to find a kind of a peace agreement with a terrorist organization. A permanent cease fire is not an option.”

This writer spoke to Ruissen about the issues that keep the EU from fully supporting Israel. “I see more and more pressure in the EU for a permanent cease fire,” he said.

In Ruissen’s opinion the European Parliament is blaming Israel for not doing enough to protect Gazans, and to get humanitarian aid to them. Ruissen does not agree with this assessment. “I think this is not the correct picture… Israel is doing what they can do to protect the civilians, and using all the opportunities they have to bring the humanitarian aid to the people. It is my impression that Hamas is blocking this, and, frustrating humanitarian aid efforts.”

Another hot topic at the IAF Chairman’s Conference was the issue of moving embassies to Jerusalem.

Ruissen wants to see the EU move its embassy, respecting Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. “We will continue to fight for that. It is a symbol of supporting Israel, and should be a very crucial step.”

He is also pleased that different colleagues at the IAF conference have committed themselves to put more pressure on their governments to move their embassies to Jerusalem.

Joyce Chitsulo is a Member of the Malawi Parliament. She addressed the delegates at the luncheon. “It is the wish of the Malawi president that we have an embassy in Jerusalem.”

Chitsulo said that offices are already being set-up, and Malawi will be among the first African countries to move their embassy to Israel’s capital city. This effort is also to strengthen the ties that Malawi has with Israel.

Speaking warmly and directly to the Israelis, Chitsulo said, “We continue to pray for you, and we are going to have the kind of friendship that will last forever.”

She ended her speech by reading from Psalm 91:14 in the Bible, then stating, “This is the message which I am leaving with our colleagues in Israel — to say that God’s promises, no matter what, will be fulfilled. Israel believes in God, we believe in God, and we believe that God is not going to put you to shame. He is going to defeat your enemies. He is going to give you victory. And, together we are going to celebrate and say, ‘God lives!’ ”

On the last day of the conference, when countries presented briefings on the accomplishments of their parliaments, Jordanna McMillan, US Director of the IAF, spoke about a resolution that was recently endorsed at the U.S. National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention. The resolution called on NRB members to refer to the region of the biblical heartland of Israel as Judea and Samaria and not just the West Bank.

McMillan explained, “That resolution has now been taken to the US Congress, and a member of Congress has introduced some of the language from that resolution into an act called, ‘The recognizing Judea and Samaria Act.’ That legislation will require all official US documents to refer to Judea and Samaria, as opposed to the West Bank.”

After briefings from IAF conference participants, several members of the Israeli Knesset gave their remarks. Israeli Member of Knesset, Ohad Tal, with the Religious Zionism party, thanked the delegates for coming to Jerusalem to stand with Israel. He said that Israel was fighting for its existence without many friends in the world. Yet, Israel is fighting for the entire free world.

He quoted from the biblical passages of Isaiah 2:2 and Isaiah 56:7, and then declared, “This is the vision we are trying to promote, but it is not just for the Jewish people, it’s for the sake of the entire humanity.  He then spoke to the IAF members with words of encouragement. “You are standing on the right side of history, and we will not forget our friends.”

Member of Knesset Matan Kahana, with the National Unity Party, served with the IDF from 1990-2018, as a fighter with the elite Sayeret Matkal Special Forces, as well as served as an F-16 Squadron Commander and fighter jet pilot in the Air Force during those years. He talked about Israel’s war against Hamas. “It’s the war of the righteousness against the pure evilness. And, we must win this war.”

In a final show of support for Israel, 20 of the parliamentarians who participated in the conference signed a resolution in the presence of Israeli Minister of Intelligence, Gila Gamliel.

Here are some of the points of the resolution: It condemned Iran’s role as a leading state sponsor of terrorism, as well as Iran’s involvement in the October 7th attack and beyond. It denounced support provided by the Iranian regime to terrorists. It called upon countries to sanction and designate the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. It called upon governments to demand the release of hostages in Hamas captivity. It recognized that Hamas must be dismantled and prevented from being able to terrorize again. It declared that those whose stated goal is to “wipe Israel off the map, from the river to the sea” are an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. It demanded that Hamas allow aid to reach all Gazans. It committed parliamentarians to work together for regional stability and economic security. It affirmed Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.

Gila Gamliel shared her remarks with the delegates, including members of the media who were present. She declared, “God never forsakes the Jewish people especially at the moment of great challenge… We are fighting for our existence to secure our land and the safety of its people. During this difficult time for our nation, we draw comfort from the words of the prophet Isaiah, who tells of God’s instruction to him, to console a broken people, 2,500 years ago.”

Gamliel quoted Isaiah 61:1-3. And, later declared to the mostly Christian parliamentarians, “You understand the biblical context that God did not abandon His people and kept His promise to return the people of Israel to our homeland.”  At the end of her speech, Gamliel proclaimed Isaiah 62:1.

Answering the question of this writer, during the press conference, on the influence and future impact the IAF resolution will have, worldwide, Gamliel addressed the IAF parliamentarians: “We are not alone. You are bringing us the faith that the Lord is with us. The Christians are with us… We have the same Bible. What is happening here in Israel is our story. Your story. Both of us. And, this is why I believe Your resolution is bringing us power, it is making us strong. It will be used to make us stronger.”

About the Author
Carrie Hart is a news analyst reporting on political, diplomatic, military and social issues as they relate to Israel, the Middle East, and the international community.
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