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  • Author: Nadav Tamir, Nimrod Goren, Lior Lehrs, Yonatan Touval, Elie Podeh, Ksenia Svetlova, Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Merav Kahana-Dagan, Barukh Binah, Roee Kibrik
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Following the publication of the Trump plan, Mitvim Institute experts argue that this is not the way to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. This document includes initial commentaries by Nadav Tamir, who claims that Israel needs a real peace plan; Dr. Nimrod Goren, who calls on the international community to say “no” to the Trump plan; Dr. Lior Lehrs, who explains that on the Jerusalem issue, Trump shatters the status quo and previous understandings; Yonatan Touval, who argues that Trump takes problematic diplomatic practices of his predecessors to the extreme; Prof. Elie Podeh, who contends that the Trump plan is not even an opportunity for peace; Former MK Ksenia Svetlova, who warns that the Trump plan might endanger Israel’s warming ties with Arab countries; Dr. Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, who claims that while the EU remains committed to the two-state solution, it struggles to respond to the Trump plan; Merav Kahana-Dagan, who identifies an opportunity to bring the Palestinian issue back to the forefront; Amb. (ret.) Barukh Binah, who calls on Israeli leaders to seek diplomatic, not only security, advice; and Dr. Roee Kibrik, who thinks that Israelis should decide what type of country they want to live in.
  • Topic: Politics, Territorial Disputes, Peace, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In February 2019, Israel Katz was named Israel’s interim foreign minister, and three months later his appointment became permanent. This ended a period of almost four-years without a fulltime foreign minister, during which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) significantly declined. A year into Katz’s term, an assessment can be made as to whether his appointment has strengthened the MFA and left a policy imprint. This, while taking into consideration the turmoil in Israeli politics since early 2019 and the understanding that deeper change requires a ministerial tenure longer than a year. This article sums up Katz’s first year on the job, based on media reports and information published by the MFA. It examines both intra-ministerial and policy aspects, and concludes that Katz is operating in Netanyahu’s heavy shadow, has failed to address the deep budgetary crisis faced by the MFA, and has focused on developing ties with Gulf States and combatting anti-Semitism.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Financial Crisis, Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Ehud Eiran, Aviad Rubin
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: Although the Mediterranean was traditionally an afterthought in Israeli geopolitical thinking, the 2000s recorded a shift: Israel is turning to the sea. The Mediterranean is capturing a growing role in Israeli geostrategic thinking. This is in large part the result of the discovery and development of gas in the Mediterranean Sea beginning in the late 1990s. Developed rather quickly, these gas reserves made Israel energy self-sufficient, a significant geo-strategic transformation. Prior to these discoveries, energy was a serious concern. The state had no energy resources, and for decades found it challenging to secure supply in the face of Arab hostility. With the gas discoveries, Israel gained not only energy independence, but also an economic and political tool. Israeli agreements to export gas to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority gave Israel important leverage. The gas discoveries in the Mediterranean further offered the possibility for export to Europe if indeed Israeli-Greek–Cypriote designs to build an undersea pipe will materialize. The new maritime energy source contributed to the expansion of the Israeli navy. Once a junior player in the Israeli armed forces, in 2013 the navy was entrusted by the government to protect the gas depots, despite the fact that they are held in private hands (including by non-Israeli corporations) and are outside of Israel’s territorial waters. The new task, alongside the expansion of the submarine flotilla (probably as part of a future nuclear deterrent against Iran), awarded the fleet a more important role in Israel’s national security establishment and resource allocation. It also allowed Israel to use the force for international cooperation and military diplomacy in the region. This turn to the sea also contributed to an emerging quasi-alliance with Cyprus and Greece, which includes, among many other areas, the possible joint gas export project, military exercises, and bi-annual trilateral summits between these countries’ leaders. Like its regional allies, Israel is affected by growing Chinese interest in the Mediterranean. Chinese corporations contracted the expansion of Israel’s two largest ports, Ashdod and Haifa. The latter was substantial enough to irk the US, whose navy used the Haifa port in the past for re-supply. Israeli and Chinese actors are in early phases of developing a Chinese funded, or owned, high speed train from Israel’s Red Sea port in Eilat to the Mediterranean port of Ashdod, that will serve as an alternate route for the Suez Canal portion of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Geopolitics, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: An important tool in understanding the dynamics of antisemitism is the identification of moments when its boundaries shift. This occurred with the Trump Peace Plan, the antisemitism crisis in the British Labour party, the UN’s first World Conference against Racism, the huge outburst of antisemitism in France in 2000, and the German welcome policy for refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Topic: Politics, Ideology, Peace, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Hanan Shai
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The conquest of southern Lebanon in Operation Peace for Galilee, and Israel’s long sojourn in the area, had political and military justification. But defects in the IDF’s deployment during the operation, and later in its protracted security activity, culminated in the May 2000 hurried withdrawal that continues to this day to negatively affect Israel’s national security.
  • Topic: National Security, War, Conflict, Hezbollah, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Israel resides at the cusp of the widening US-Chinese divide, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Israel attests. Pompeo’s visit was for the express purpose of reminding Jerusalem that its dealings with Beijing jeopardize its relationship with Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Arms Trade, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: George N Tzogopoulos
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Greece, Israel, and five other countries of the Eastern Mediterranean have established the East Med Gas Forum. Turkey is not a member and is employing its own muscular approach in the region. The US would like the Forum to be more inclusive, specifically toward Ankara. Athens and Jerusalem could launch a diplomatic initiative to explore Turkey’s participation, as they have nothing to lose and much to gain from such an initiative.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Gas, Trade
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: Anne Herzberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: UN treaty bodies are increasingly violating their mandates as part of discriminatory anti-Israel campaigns. In March 2020, the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) embraced this disturbing trend by adopting a BDS agenda after being convinced to do so by the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).
  • Topic: Human Rights, Politics, United Nations, BDS, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Norway, Palestine
  • Author: Asaf Romirowsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Strategically, Israel’s fundamental military premise is defensive but its tactics are offensive—a result of its geography and absence of territorial depth. Israeli decision-making has always been driven by the active defense ethos, and this is reflected in Israeli filmmaking and TV-making.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Culture, Media, Film, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: A number of conspiracy theories have quickly emerged linking Jews and Israel to the coronavirus pandemic. These are new mutations of historical strains of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including the “poisoning of gentiles” motif and the accusation that the Jews want to control the world. These theories are all linked to the most popular antisemitic conspiracy theory of all, the modern mutation of the ancient blood libel that claims that Israel behaves like the Nazis and has Nazi-esque intentions toward the Palestinians.
  • Topic: History, Judaism, Anti-Semitism, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Gershon Hacohen
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The Jordan Valley, in its full scope and broadest definition, is essential to Israel’s national security. Its retention by Israel requires not only military deployment but a comprehensive development plan—i.e., the construction of housing, roads, and infrastructure—that will establish this territory as Israel’s eastern wing.
  • Topic: National Security, Politics, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan Valley
  • Author: Roie Yellinek
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: In 2009, China Radio International (CRI) began broadcasting in Hebrew. This venture has proven a success for the Chinese and a failure for the Israeli media, which uncritically swallow the messages sent out by CRI’s Hebrew team.
  • Topic: Politics, Mass Media, Media, YouTube
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Israel, Asia
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Iqtisadi, Paul Rivlin delves into the structural factors that led to protests and the overthrow of Sudan's longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019. This background along with more recent developments, explains why some of the leadership in Sudan today believe engagement with Israel makes good economic sense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economy, Omar al-Bashir
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Michael B Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: We can envision the advent of a new economic revolution forming in the Shia crescent as a new, cohesive political force in the Middle East between Sunni Gulf Arabs and Israel by deepening rapprochement to counter Iran’s expansion. Alongside years of discreet contact and informal diplomatic backchannels between Gulf Countries and Israel, the future portends closer economic links between these power blocs. With the combination of Israeli technology and Gulf capital, there is no shortage of synergies eager to be developed, as Gulf States explore new visionary economic reforms looking beyond a dependence on oil revenues.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Luiza Khlebnikova
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: The world has been focusing almost exclusively on the events in Syria and Russia’s role in them, ignoring a perennial core regional issue – the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2019, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip kept protesting and calling upon Israel to end the blockade of their territory and to lift restrictions on the movement of people and goods. The current US policy under the Donald Trump administration, as many prominent American and Russian experts - including Daniel Kurtzer and Vitaly Naumkin - point out, undermines the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. The hopes of the Palestinian people for their own state keep waning. Mostly, it is a result of the White House’s unilateral moves: the cut of US bilateral assistance programs to Palestinians, as well as contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the overturn of the US position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are no longer considered illegal. “The deal of the century” promised by Donald Trump since 2016, has not been revealed in its entirety yet, however, its chances of success are extremely low.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Negotiation, Mediation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Edy Cohen
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Arab politicians blame the Israeli establishment for the rampaging violence in Israeli Arab society, but ignore the underlying problems in their own sociopolitical culture that foster that violence.
  • Topic: Demographics, Politics, Law Enforcement, Violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: If antisemitism is to be fought effectively, three priorities have to be set. First, the Israeli government should establish an anti-propaganda agency. Second, an effort must be made to achieve a broad recognition that antisemitism is an ancient and integral element of Western culture. Third, there should be a consistent exposure of Jewish masochists who claim that Israel alone has to be perfect while others do not.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Judaism, Anti-Semitism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Eytan Gilboa
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, has decided to indict senior Israeli policymakers and military officers for committing war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza. Her decision is baseless, preposterous, and discriminatory, and it violates the ICC’s own mission and rules. Bensouda’s action should be placed within the wider context of the Palestinian disinformation, delegitimization, and demonization campaign against Israel at international organizations. Israel should discredit and delegitimize the ICC in turn via aggressive political measures and collaboration with concerned liberal democracies, primarily the US.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Justice, International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, West Bank
  • Author: Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Berlin has surpassed Malmö as Europe’s antisemitism capital, with a wide variety of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes on display. They include dozens of cases of physical aggression against Jews, including rabbis. Jewish pupils have had to leave public schools. Thirty-five percent of Berliners view Israelis as analogous to Nazis. An Al-Quds Day march takes place annually that calls for the destruction of Israel. Both the municipality and the federal government are two-faced about the problem of antisemitism.
  • Topic: Politics, Judaism, Ideology, Anti-Semitism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Germany
  • Author: Alex Joffe
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Contemporary antisemitism has the ability to graft itself onto a variety of causes and movements. But the social and information environment in the US and Europe is strongly conditioned by virtue-signaling among elites and increasingly among portions of the middle class. Antisemitism, in part through BDS-fueled antipathy toward Israel, is becoming a signal of middle class respectability. At the same time, though left-wing Western elites remain strongly anti-national, the working classes and other parts of the middle class are becoming renationalized. These and other class conflicts will shape antisemitism in the next decades.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Class, BDS, Anti-Semitism, Political Movements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine