As the Biden administration sets its agenda, Israel will likely see a number of changes from the administration of former President Trump. Israelis living in Judea and Samaria are especially concerned about what that might mean for the biblical heartland.
CBN News visited the Psagot Winery about 10 miles north of Jerusalem to hear how businesses in the area view possible changes.
“Jews and wine go together,” said Yaakov Berg, who owns the winery. “For us, wine is holy. We have a special blessing for wine. Every event in Jewish life - if you don’t have any wine - you don’t have the event.”
In 2003, Yaakov and Naama, his wife, started the winery based on ancient tradition. They recently moved to a new site in Sha’are Binyamin - the Gates of Benjamin – a large industrial zone in Judea and Samaria.
Naama took journalists on a tour of the facility, where they have a small exhibition of artifacts and 3,000-year-old wine vessels from Judea and Samaria.
“There was a big wine industry in those days. The wine that was produced here was shipped to Rome, Europe, to Beit HaMikdash [the Temple], to Jerusalem,” she said.
Behind the winery is a valley where Jonathan, the son of King Saul, fought a famous battle against the Philistines recorded in I Samuel 14.
The area is part of what the Palestinians and much of the world call the “Occupied West Bank.” But the Trump administration acknowledged Israel’s connection to the Land. More than a year ago, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State at the time, declared Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria would no longer be considered illegal.
The Bergs names a wine after the secretary and he visited them in November.
“When you share common faith, it’s very strong,” Berg said about the Judea-Christian ties. “And with faith also, you can change the world. I think President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they changed history.”
Other unprecedented moves of Trump’s administration included recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there – actions that angered Palestinians, causing them to cut ties with the US.
President Biden has now restored those relations as well as unconditional funding to Palestinian refugees. He also plans to return to the old peace process formula.
"If someone want[s] to develop this area, to solve the problem, the way is not to separate Arabs and Jews with dividing the area and build[ing] borders,” said Israel Ganz, Governor of the Benjamin Regional Council.
“The right way it’s like what President Trump did. He talked about let’s invest in the area. Let’s develop this area,” Ganz told CBN News.
Ganz says Israel must be the sovereign power in the area.
"We can live and help each other but we can’t agree to take a part of the holy land and give it to someone. You know, God brought us here not to take His holy land to bring it to someone else,” Ganz said.
Berg said Trump had made morality reality.
“President Trump was the first president saying the simple truth. We, the Jewish people, we came back to our homeland after 2,000 years that we’ve been dreaming, we’ve been praying,” Berg told CBN News.
Coupled with that morality was Trump’s business sense.
"He said, ‘listen, today it’s the best day, tomorrow it will be worse,’ and everybody want[ed] to sign a deal the same day," Berg said. “Nobody can argue [with] the results.”
The Bergs’ winery produces 750,000 bottles of wine each year, exporting 70 percent to more than 20 countries. Soon -- thanks to the Abraham Accords -- there will be one more- the UAE.
“Wine represent[s] more than just a drink. It’s culture, something very deep. So, I think we have the ability to be very successful in our relationship with the Emirates,” Berg said.
The Accords opened the way for business between Israel and several Muslim countries.
“I think it’s a history," Ganz said. “It’s a real change that instead of talking about states or tak[ing] this holy land and divid[ing] it - which means borders and wars and hospitals - instead of that we are talking about [what’s in] common.”
Despite the disputed status of Judea and Samaria and the fact that most Muslims don’t drink alcohol, the UAE is planning to import Israeli wine. More than 2/3 of the Arab Emirates’ population is from other countries around the world.
“We’re talking here about connection more than how many bottles of wine I’m going to sell,” Berg said.
Ganz believes the Abraham Accords will bring a better life for Jews and Arabs alike.
“Now [the] Abraham Accords [are] talking about prosperity. Everyone that really want[s] to help the people here, should invest in this area,” he said.
Ganz says the world is focused on this area because it’s the heart of the world. Both he and Berg hope Biden will see that the recent changes are working and follow suit.