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  • Author: Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The crisis concerning the Temple Mount that erupted in July 2017 appears to have ebbed. Despite predictions to the contrary, the Middle East is not ablaze; peoples and leaders of the region remain preoccupied with other crises; and there is no third intifada at Israel’s doorstep. At the same time, the attack on the Temple Mount that left two Israeli policemen dead brought on serious additional consequences, including the murders in Halamish, the tension with Jordan, worsened relations between Israel’s Jewish population and its Arab sector, and further erosion of Israel’s vague sovereignty on the Temple Mount.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Daniel Shapiro
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Jerusalem’s holy sites have a way of asserting strategic significance far beyond what their simple physical presence would suggest. Events in the aftermath of the shooting of two Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount highlight this truth. So it was with respect to the Kotel (Western Wall) a month earlier, albeit in a non- security context. Following the Israeli government’s decision to reverse course on an agreement with the liberal streams of Judaism and Diaspora representatives to establish a third section of the Kotel for egalitarian prayer, a crisis erupted that has called into question Israel’s very relationship with Diaspora communities, first and foremost the American Jewish community, which has been steadfast in its support of the US-Israel bilateral relationship. The sense of crisis was deepened further by a separate government decision to advance a law on conversion that could call into question the validity of conversions when Jews converted by Reform and Conservative rabbis overseas come to Israel.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Oded Eran
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The tension on the Temple Mount and the crisis between Israel and Jordan following the attack on a security guard at the Israeli embassy in Amman need more than ad hoc solutions that leave the basic situation unresolved and the strategic opportunities untapped. Israel would do well to seize the political and operational initiative before international and regional entities do, and propose, inter alia, an international meeting on steps that can prevent radical entities from violating freedom of worship and freedom of access to the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Judaism and Islam. The proposals on the Temple Mount issue relate to another key issue, namely, Israel’s response to key regional changes - the accelerated weakening of Arab political unity and the strengthening of the parties threatening the survival of the moderate Arab regimes.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Carmit Padan, Jael Eshkenazi
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) estimates that in the past 20 years, approximately 1.3 million people were killed and approximately 4.5 billion were affected by natural disasters, including earthquakes. Yet the number of casualties caused by the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 varied sharply from the number of casualties caused by the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2011. The earthquake in Haiti was of similar magnitude as the major quake in Christchurch, but the human toll was significantly higher: 185 people were killed in the Christchurch earthquake, versus an estimated number of more than 220,000 killed in Haiti. Clearly, then, it is not the magnitude of the disaster or natural hazard that determines its impact.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief
  • Political Geography: Haiti
  • Author: Sima Shine, Raz Zimmt, Anna Catran
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The tension between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Revolutionary Guards that was evident during the presidential election campaign has intensified in recent weeks and evolved into a confrontation that is unprecedented in its openly severe nature. The current confrontation surrounds two main issues: Iran’s missile strike against Islamic State targets in Syria, and President Rouhani’s criticism of the Revolutionary Guards’ involvement in the economy.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Zvi Magen, Udi Dekel
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The first meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin since Trump entered the White House took place in Hamburg, during the G20 summit of July 7-8, 2017. Relations between the two powers have been marked by tension over disagreements on various areas of conflict around the world, and from the reports in the United States about alleged contacts between Trump and Russia during the presidential campaign and Russian cyber interference in the election process. Tensions rose further when US forces attacked pro-Assad coalition forces in Syria and when Russia opposed the condemnation of North Korea in the Security Council regarding Pyonyang’s long range missile program. Nonetheless, reports were that the meeting between the leaders, which lasted longer than planned, was constructive, though very few details about the conversation itself or any agreements reached were provided, other than an announcement on the agreement to impose a ceasefire in southwestern Syria and establish a de-escalation zone there.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Oded Eran
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The agenda alone of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7-8, 2017 was not sufficient to draw the world’s attention. Although the forum brings together the leaders of the world’s 19 leading economies and the European Union, representing two thirds of the global population and 80 percent of the global GDP, it generally draws little more than thousands of demonstrators protesting globalization. This summit, however, generated much interest as it provided the stage for personal meetings between leaders, some the first of their kind, such as between Presidents Trump and Putin. In addition, at the summit Trump had to confront the other 19 leaders directly on some trade issues and the Paris Agreement, and the summit itself took place while eyes were also directed eastward, starting just after North Korea successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Assaf Orion
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Recent weeks have witnessed a change in the public position on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) among high ranking IDF personnel. Senior IDF officers have addressed Hezbollah’s military activity in Lebanon, regarding both the Iranian-supported production of weapon systems in Lebanon and open, provocative intelligence gathering along the Blue Line. Prominent in this context was an exchange between IDF Deputy Chief of the General Staff Major General Aviv Kochavi and UNIFIL Commander Major General Michael Beary on June 11, 2017 during the visit to Israel by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. It was reported that after Beary praised the quiet in his Area of Responsibility, and said that there was no need for a change in UNIFIL activity in the sector, Kochavi took issue with this statement, saying that the Lebanese army was preventing UNIFIL forces from entering built-up areas, thereby abetting the continuation of Hezbollah activity in populated terrain.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Amos Yadlin, Avner Golov
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: On July 4, 2017, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of flying a distance of over 6,000 kilometers. With the test, the first of its kind for Pyongyang, North Korea sought to highlight its ability to threaten United States territory, not merely American forces stationed in Northeast Asia. The missile, which was in the air for nearly 40 minutes, was launched specifically on American Independence Day, a few days after the meeting between US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who favors a conciliatory approach to North Korea.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Oded Eran
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The second decade of the twenty-first century has brought tremendous shifts in Israel's map of international relations, amounting to a new set of formal and informal alliances. The visit to Israel by Indian Prime Minister the Honorable Narendra Modi (July 4-6, 2017) can be seen as one of the milestones in this process.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: India, Israel
  • Author: Kobi Michael
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Events of recent weeks in both nearby and distant arenas have reshuffled the cards vis-à- vis the state of affairs in the Gaza Strip. The result has been the emergence of possible conditions for change – that is, if Israel takes effective advantage of them and leverages them through cooperation with Egypt and the Gulf states. Yahya Sinwar’s election as the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip was followed by Hamas’s issuing of a new policy document, and the decision of the pragmatic Sunni camp, led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to sever ties with Qatar and impose sanctions on it. In addition, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to reduce the Palestinian Authority’s payments for fuel destined for the power station in the Gaza Strip (a measure that has exacerbated the electricity crisis in Gaza), and Sinwar and a Hamas delegation went to Egypt for meetings with senior Egyptian intelligence officials and long-time Abbas rival Mohammed Dahlan.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Gaza
  • Author: Marco Giuli
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: The United States (US) has always been a key player in the European Union’s energy security, as a supporter of its gas supply diversification plans. The Trump administration is underlining the US’ role as a gas exporter. This shift of tone from a strategic to a commercial approach risks furthering divisions and mistrust among European Union (EU) member states, with potential negative effects for the Energy Union.
  • Topic: Climate Finance, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Alison Hunter
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: Introduced as an ex ante conditionality in the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy, Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) require regions to develop smart priorities and direct investment efforts towards growth-oriented innovation. In the space of only four years, S3 has become widely regarded as a success story across the Cohesion Policy community, as a place-based driver of EU competitiveness. For some regions, it has offered scope to deepen existing practices. For others, S3 has introduced new approaches to achieving innovation-oriented growth. There is, however, quite some distance to cover if S3 is to accelerate its support role in delivering EU growth and investment. This would require redefining the role of S3 and re-positioning this in the post-2020 Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF).
  • Topic: Europe Union, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Fabian Zuleeg
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: How best to support its industry has been a perennial issue for the European Union (EU). The Commission’s approach has been an attempt to mainstream industrial competitiveness across policy areas. But this hardly constitutes an adequate strategic industrial policy. The EU and its members must recognise that current global pressures require a common and forward-looking approach to ensure that European industry can thrive.
  • Topic: Financial Markets, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: European Union
  • Author: Romain Pardo
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: The Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement will make its implementation more challenging. The United States (US) had been instrumental in brokering a successful deal in Paris and speeding the ratification process for an early entry into force of the agreement. While the US remains party to the agreement for the next four years, its involvement in upcoming international climate discussions remains uncertain. Meanwhile, policy developments in the country such as the "Energy Independence Executive Order" indicate that the current administration has currently no intention to fulfil the pledge made by the previous one to lower CO2 emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels in 2025.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Andrew Duff
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: Following the start of the Brexit negotiations on 19 June, Andrew Duff reviews the state of play, namely the discussions on EU citizens’ rights, the Irish border, the financial commitments and the future role of the ECJ. He welcomes the Commission’s proposal to create a Joint Committee to manage the actual exiting process. Duff regrets the irresolution on the British side, which hampers the possibility to define the future relationship with the European Union and consequently the transitional arrangements that UK business so badly needs. Given the UK’s state of confusion after the electoral results of 2016 and 2017, he suggests that the EU must make an offer to London on the basis of a wider reflection on the future not just of the smaller European Union but of the wider Europe.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Andrew Duff
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: In this paper, Andrew Duff reviews the intended and unintended consequences of the results of last week’s general election. He argues that: 1. Since both Labour and Conservatives campaigned to complete Brexit, there will be no more talk of the possible revocation of Article 50. Brexit does indeed mean Brexit. 2. Now Brexit is free from the shadow of immediate electioneering. And the new composition of the House of Commons has improved the chances that if there is an Article 50 treaty it will be approved. 3. The unintended consequence of the snap election has been to make a softer Brexit more likely. Mercifully, we should not hear again that “no deal is better than a bad deal” as a bust up of the Article 50 talks would lead to the collapse of the May government and the holding of another general election, much-feared by the Conservative party.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Giovanni Grevi
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: After four months in office, the Trump administration has not triggered a revolution in US foreign policy but is shaking up the status quo. The path-breaking decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change reflects the president's abrasive 'America first' rhetoric. On a range of other issues, long-established patterns and commitments have been challenged so far more in words than in deeds. However, the mix of nationalism and pragmatism, ideology and realism, improvisation and policy reversals that Trump's foreign policy approach displays has begun to significantly affect the profile and perceptions of the US in the world. Under Trump, the US is shifting away from its traditional role as ultimate guarantor of the international liberal order at increasing speed.
  • Topic: Political stability, Post Truth Politics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Fuad Olajuwon
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: In recent news, North Korea has been the hot button issue with governments and bureaucrats alike. The geopolitical nature of the country leaves many world leaders apprehensive as to what will happen next. Recent missile tests conducted by Pyongyang as well as brazen rhetoric spouted by Kim Jong Un towards neighboring countries poses a threat as to what actions North Korea will take moving forward. While it’s interesting to note the movements of the country in question, the reaction of the other nations in the region have the potential to shift the geopolitical balance of power. So the questions remain the same; is North Korea an aggressive force that has the resources and capability to fracture East Asian relations? Or can countries use these events to craft a new reality to preserve the sanctity of their respective states?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Rohinton P. Medhora
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Critical reviews of hard-hitting commentaries on urgent global issues are published periodically by Project Syndicate as part of their Issue Adviser series. In the latest instalment, below, the president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation assesses the populist threat to globalization and international trade and considers arguments by economists such as Kaushik Basu, Jeffrey Frankel, Laura Tyson and other commentators
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus