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Summer tensions spiking: Is Iran trying to provoke the US into war? Here are the latest Iranian moves & US counter-moves.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Do the mullahs and ayatollahs in Iran want a war with the U.S.?

Or do they believe the current American President is likely to follow the way of most  presidents for the last several decades and back down in the face of Iranian aggression?

I wish the mounting tensions were nothing more than the fiction of my latest thriller, The Persian Gamble. But the situation in real-life is actually becoming very serious.

Consider the latest Iranian moves, and U.S. counter-moves.

In response, the U.S. is ratcheting up the pressure on Iran:

Some commentators have been sharply critical of President Trump for not launching military strikes on Iran in recent days. I see it differently. As I Tweeted over the weekend, “I have no problem with President Trump showing some restraint. No one can say this President isn’t being tough on Iran. The key is for Trump and his national security team to continue ratchet up the pressure on Iran and run their strategy on their own timetable, not Iran’s.” 

In a follow-up Tweet, I noted, “The President and his national security team are doing a good job bringing maximum pressure on the ayatollahs of Iran and bringing U.S. allies along step-by-step. If your overall policy is right, it’s not weakness to show patience and not be trigger happy.”

The current White House goal: persuade the Iranian regime to give up its nuclear program, its long-range missile program, and its support for terrorism in the Middle East and around the world — and persuading European allies to join the U.S. in scrapping the nuclear deal and imposing crippling economic sanctions on Iran.

Ultimately, the goal should be to remove the tyrannical regime from power and replace it will moderates. Hopefully, economic pressure and diplomacy will suffice. But the U.S. and our allies must be ready for military action if necessary.

Let’s pray it is not necessary. 

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White House releases 40-page plan to create 1 million Palestinian jobs, cut poverty rate in half, and double Palestinian GDP. Here are the details.

 


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(Jerusalem, Israel) — “Days before the US-sponsored Bahrain conference [June 25-26], the White House released its proposal to boost the Palestinian economy by offering a $50 billion aid package that can only be implemented through an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement,” reported the Times of Israel.

“The 40-page plan which Senior Adviser Jared Kushner will push in Manama next week, rests on three initiatives, according to the document — to ‘unleash the economic potential’ of the Palestinians, ’empower the Palestinians to realize their ambitions,’ and ‘enhance Palestinian governance,'” the Times noted….

“The plan — formally dubbed ‘Peace To Prosperity’ — said that the economic package, if implemented, would double the Palestinians’ gross domestic product, create more than one million jobs in the territories, reduce Palestinian unemployment to single digits (it was 31 percent in 2018, according to the World Bank), and cut the poverty rate by 50%…..The $50 billion would be divided through $26 billion in loans, $13.5 billion in grants and $11 billion in private investment. The proposal does include a number of specific projects, including border crossing updates, power plant upgrades, infrastructure improvements to boost tourism, career counseling and job placement service, and re-building and modernizing Palestinian hospitals and health clinics.”

I’ll provide an analysis of the plan later.

For now, I would encourage you simply to read the plan for yourself.  

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Come on a cruise to New England & Canada with Lynn and me in September! Study Scripture, pray & worship together and learn about the work of The Joshua Fund. Get all the details & register today.

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Dear Friends — 

It is my joy to invite you and your family to join my wife, Lynn, and me on The Joshua Fund’s inaugural cruise, September 28 through October 5, 2019.

During this 7-day journey from Boston to Montreal, we’ll have an opportunity to study the Scriptures and discuss what the Lord is doing in Israel and the Middle East, even as we witness God’s handiwork in creation, enjoy the colors of Fall, and visit beautiful places along the northeastern seaboard.

Will you prayerfully consider joining us? [Watch a brief video about the cruise]

Lynn and I founded The Joshua Fund in 2006 with the goals of blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus and of educating Christians in North America and beyond about God’s plan and purposes for the people of the Epicenter. This cruise will give us the opportunity to share with you what we’re seeing God do to build His Church.

With a new decade approaching, many people are asking me what’s in store for Israel and the Middle East? During special sessions on the cruise, I’ll be addressing this question, teaching on “Prophecy and Prayer in an Ever-Changing World,” and answering your questions about Biblical prophecy, and about the spread of the Gospel.

We’ll spend time in praise and worship and following God’s command to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” In addition, we’ve invited ministry leaders from the region to join us and share first-hand their stories from the field, including how The Joshua Fund is helping them advance the Kingdom of Christ.

Rather than a typical conference, however, you’ll be traveling onboard Holland America Line’s MS Zaandam, and what a special journey it will be. Every detail will be carefully planned for you by our Christian travel provider, Inspiration Cruises & Tours. Come with us, other like-minded believers, and our special guests from Israel on an unforgettable adventure of learning and spiritual growth, as well as rest and relaxation.

We so look forward to spending time with you. Will you make plans now to join us?

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BREAKING: U.S., Saudis & UAE say Iran responsible for sabotaging oil tankers in Gulf. How will White House & Arab allies respond? Is military force being planned?

Gulf-oiltanker(Jerusalem, Israel) — Tensions are spiking between Iran, the United States and a group of Gulf Arab countries. Indeed, we may closer to a military confrontation with Tehran than any time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the takeover of the American Embassy by Iranian Radical Islamists.

On April 22nd — facing a plummeting economy due to crippling U.S. sanctions — Iran threatened to disrupt oil tanker traffic in and around the Straits of Hormuz. Over the last several weeks, Tehran began executing their strategy. At least six oil tanker ships have been violently sabotaged.

Now the U.S., the Saudis, the UAE, and the British say the intelligence confirms the Iranian regime is responsible for these attacks.

The most recent attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman come just one day after a missile scored a direct hit on a Saudi airport, injuring 26 people. The missile was fired from Yemen by Houthis rebels who are armed and supported by Iran.

We now face two big questions:

  1. Will the U.S. and her allies further ratchet up the economic pressure, or back off due to Iranian aggression?
  2. Will military force be used to punish Iran, or will the U.S. and her allies be content with tough talk and economic sanctions alone?

No one wants another war, especially in the Middle East. But the Trump administration has been quite clear over the past year that it is losing patience with Tehran.

“The U.S. Government publicly accused Iran of attacking two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, as US President Donald Trump closed the door on talks between Washington and Tehran,” reported The National, the main English newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.

  • U.S. statement: “It is the assessment of the United States government that Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
  • UAE statement: “The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash, said the tanker attacks and the Houthi attack on a Saudi airport represented a ‘major and dangerous escalation’ that required the international community to help protect regional stability and security,” The National noted
  • Saudi statement: “The Iranian regime is the only party in the region that has been pursuing reckless escalation, through the use of ballistic missiles and UAVs to directly target civilian installations and innocent civilians,” stated Saudi Vice Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, son of the King. He added that “the continuation of the Iranian regime’s aggression and reckless escalation, whether directly or through its militias, will result in grave consequences.”
  • British statement: “We are taking this extremely seriously and my message to Iran is that if they have been involved it is a deeply unwise escalation which poses a real danger to the prospects of peace and stability in the region,” said U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Please pray for calm and stability to be restored. Pray for wisdom for U.S. and allied leaders. And if you’re interested in this on-going story, please follow me on Twitter for updates.

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Dramatic announcement: White House says 3 more Arab countries will attend peace conference June 25-26. This brings total number of Arab countries participating to 7, though Abbas resisting.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — The White House made a dramatic announcement today: three additional Arab countries have agreed to participate in the Trump peace team’s economic conference, scheduled for June 25 and 26.

This brings the total number of participating Arab countries to seven.

At the conference, Jared Kusher and his team will roll-out the first section of their peace plan. This section is designed to dramatically improve the Palestinian economy, create good jobs, improve the quality of life for the Palestinian people and attract tens of billions of dollars in private investment and government aid to pay for it all.

The three newly-signed-on countries are:

  • Jordan
  • Egypt
  • Morocco

They join four Gulf Arab countries who have already said “yes” to participating:

  • Bahrain, which is also hosting the conference in its capital city of Manama
  • the United Arab Emirates
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Qatar

Israel has not yet been formally invited. U.S. officials said they wanted to nail down significant Arab participation first. Now that that has happened, Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is expected to receive his invitation soon. He has already indicated he is eager to attend.

Unfortunately two governments have said they will not participate.

  • The Palestinian Authority
  • Lebanon

As I noted in my recent column, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his advisors aren’t just saying no, however. They are responding with tremendous anger towards the Trump team for having the event, and towards the Arab countries that are participating. They have pleaded with the leaders of these Arab countries to boycott the event, and warned that any Palestinian business leader who attends will be branded a “traitor” and “collaborator with the enemy.”

That said, it strikes me as a wise, even shrewd, move to unveil the economic portion of the peace plan first. Here’s why:

  • It will focus the Palestinian people — if not their leaders — first and foremost on what they would “get” from making peace with Israel, not first on what they might have to “give.”
  • It will create a conversation not just among Palestinian Arabs but among Arabs throughout the region on whether the Trump team is making specific, positive and useful proposals to make the lives of real people better. 
  • No previous American administration has ever offered a detailed financial plan to improve the Palestinian economy and infrastructure.
  • We’ll get to see what countries are willing to invest the billions of dollars necessary to turn these ideas into reality.

All of us who pray for the peace of Jerusalem should be praying that this conference is not just petty politics as usual, but will lay out a truly meaningful and innovative plan that really can bring to much-needed help to the suffering people of the West Bank and Gaza. Personally, I’m very encouraged to see seven Arab nations playing a part. Perhaps they can even persuade Abbas and his team in Ramallah to take a deep breath, and come to Manama after all with an open mind.

Inshallah.

(Photo: Egyptian President el-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.)

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Thank you, President Bush, for reading The Kremlin Conspiracy & The Persian Gamble. I’m deeply honored & I’m praying for you and your family.

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(Washington, D.C.) — When I wrote my first political thriller, The Last Jihad, I was just hoping my mother and father could find it at a bookstore within 100 miles of their house.

I was completely unprepared for how far and wide these books would travel, and what a diverse range of people would read them.

There are now nearly five million copies in print. They are published in some two dozen languages, and on nearly every continent. It’s been fun to learn over the years that our readers include Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Jordan’s King Abdullah, U.S. Congressmen, Senators, Governors, several CIA directors, and many U.S. and foreign military and intelligence officials and diplomats. 

So far, however, George W. Bush is the first American President to read my novels.

It’s the latest series — The Kremlin Conspiracy and The Persian Gamble that focuses on the life of former U.S. Secret Service agent Marcus Ryker — that has drawn his interest. At the suggestion of mutual friends of ours, I sent him signed copies of both books when they released. The former President has not only read them but sent very gracious notes. My favorite line from the note he sent last month, “I look forward to what seeing what Marcus Ryker is up to next!”

Thank you, Mr. President. I am deeply honored that you are reading my thrillers. I just finished the manuscript for the third installment of the Ryker saga, and I’ll be sure to get you an advance copy later this Fall.

Above all, thank you for your faithful service to our country — and for the service of your father and brother. We owe you a great debt for all that you have done to keep Americans and our allies safe from the plague of Radical Islamist terrorism and to liberate tens of millions who were once enslaved under Middle Eastern tyrannies. May God bless you , Laura and your girls. You are all in my prayers.

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I just finished the manuscript for my new thriller after “The Persian Gamble.”

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(Washington, D.C.) — Can’t give you any specific details yet — sorry! Later this year, we’ll reveal the title, cover art and exact release date. 

But I’m so grateful for the very positive reaction we’ve gotten for The Kremlin Conspiracy and The Persian Gamble, and just wanted you to know I’ve been hard at work on this new one since the beginning of January.

Yesterday, I turned in the manuscript to my literary agent and publishing team. In a few weeks, I start working with my editor to sharpen and polish it and advance reader copies will be going out to reviewers this Fall. We expect the book to release next Spring.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers as to whether this series about Marcus Ryker, the former Secret Service agent, is only a trilogy. Many seem to be assuming this because my last two series were trilogies. That’s actually not my intention for this one. Honestly, I haven’t decided how many Ryker novels I’ll write before I retire him….or kill him off. But just be aware that as of now, I’m plotting out a fourth installment.

Hope you’re all about to have a great summer — and hope you’ll be taking my novels to the beach, and encouraging others to do the same!

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Palestinians say “hell no” to Trump peace team’s economic conference. But three Arab states say “yes.” This is a very big deal. Here’s why. (My new column for The Jerusalem Post.)

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(Washington, D.C.) — Here are excerpts from my new column. To read the full column, please click here.

“Palestinians say ‘hell no’ to Trump economic parley”

Historic, tectonic shifts are underway in the Middle East. Many Americans and Europeans are convinced President Donald Trump’s long-awaited and highly controversial peace plan has no chance of success. But they are utterly missing the point. Yes, the Palestinians are hardening their position against peace with Israel, but the Gulf Arab states are steadily warming toward peace with the Jewish state.

Consider the latest developments.

On June 25 and 26, Trump’s advisers will host a conference to roll out the first section of their peace plan. Specifically, they will unveil their proposals to vastly improve the Palestinian economy and the living conditions of every Arab – Muslim and Christian – in the West Bank and Gaza.

No foreign ministers are invited, only finance ministers. This session isn’t about boundaries, capitals, flags and anthems. It’s about creating more jobs, rising wages, good schools, better roads, more trade, clean water and uninterrupted electricity.

Sadly, Palestinian leaders are saying “no” to attending. Actually, they’re saying, “hell, no!”

….[Yet,] three Gulf Arab states – Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – are saying “yes,” they would be happy to attend the American conference. Indeed, the leaders of Bahrain are actually making the bold move of hosting the conference.

Israel has also said, “yes,” – Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is very much looking forward to participating, his spokesman said.

Such developments are a very big deal for several reasons….

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