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  • Author: Ehud Eiran
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Israel is still holding to its traditional security maxim. Based on a perception of a hostile region, Israel’s response includes early warning, deterrence and swift – including pre-emptive – military action, coupled with an alliance with a global power, the US. Israel is adjusting these maxims to a changing reality. Overlapping interests – and perhaps the prospect of an even more open conflict with Iran – led to limited relationships between Israel and some Gulf states. These, however, will be constrained until Israel makes progress on the Palestine issue. Israel aligned with Greece and Cyprus around energy and security, which may lead to conflict with Turkey. Russia’s deployment in Syria placed new constraints on Israeli freedom of action there. The US’s retrenchment from the Middle East is not having a direct effect on Israel, while the Trump administration’s support for Israel’s territorial designs in the West Bank may make it easier for Israel to permanently expand there, thus sowing the seeds for future instability in Israel/Palestine. The EU could try and balance against such developments, but, as seen from Israel, is too divided to have a significant impact. Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, April 2020.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Gas, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper scans the interests and activities of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt in the Mediterranean Basin – their varying and competing interests, their points of convergence and cooperation, and the challenges and opportunities for Israel. The paper is based on the main points raised at the third meeting of the working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held in September 2019 in the Herzliya offices of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The paper shines a spotlight on key elements in regional relationships and significant activity taking place in the Mediterranean Basin, which Israel must consider in formulating and executing policy. It is based on the presentations and discussions conducted at the event and does not reflect agreement among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Michal Yaari
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article focuses on relations between Israel and Qatar, analyzing them in historical context, in the context of Qatari foreign policy and in terms of their potential and the limitations imposed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The article describes the shift from a mutual conception of hostility to unusual cooperation over the Gaza crisis. While Israel aspires to avoid additional rounds of violence with Gaza, Qatar seeks to strengthen its regional role as a mediator, and mutual interests converge into joint activity to avert an additional military clash between Hamas and Israel. The cooperation between the states illustrates how the Palestinian issue can leverage regional cooperation. At the same time, the untapped diplomatic, economic and civilian potential of Israel-Qatar relations points to the limitations imposed by the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy, Conflict, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Qatar
  • Author: Haim Koren
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Since President Abdel Fatah a-Sisi’s rise to power in 2014, Israeli-Egyptian ties have been marked by defense-strategic cooperation. This is based on the shared perception of Iran and radical Islamist terror organizations as a threat, and the common interest in managing the Palestinian issue, in general, and specifically the Gaza arena. In the inherent tension between ideology and national interests, Egypt continues to strive for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians (Fatah, Hamas and the other Palestinian factions) and seeks to bring about internal Palestinian reconciliation beforehand (between the leaderships in Ramallah and Gaza). Its role as a key mediator between Hamas and Israel is crucial, and is in line with Egypt’s international standing as an important regional leader.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Ronen Zeidel
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The final months of 2019 were marked by widespread, prolonged protests throughout Iraq, which began in October. Baghdad was the focal point of the demonstrations, which were directed at the ruling political elite and the state backing it: Iran. Prime Minister Adil AbdulMahdi resigned at the end of November, throwing official Iraq into a political vacuum and guaranteeing that any premier appointed to replace him would be considered an interim ruler and as such, his government would only be accepted by the weakened political elite, but not by a significant part of the population. This article reviews the changes that occurred in 2019 in the nature of Israel-Iraq cooperation, as they relate to diplomatic, security, economic and civilian aspects.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Civilians
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Einat Levi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article examines the current Israel-Morocco cooperation and its development through 2019. It briefly describes developments in diplomatic, security, economic and civilian arenas in order to find common ground and identify trends. Naturally, the paper will not elaborate much on the security-intelligence aspect of the cooperation, despite its centrality, due to its classified nature.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Yitzhak Gal
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The year 2019 saw additional deterioration in Israel-Jordan relations to the point where ties can be described as “toxic”. Israel’s continued callous disregard of Jordanian sensitivities and interests on policy issues (such as al-Haram a-Sharif/Temple Mount) and economic issues (such as water), was further exacerbated by the particularly volatile issue of the Jordan Valley annexation. Strong security ties continued to provide the basis of the relationship, although they are conducted largely behind the scenes. Economic and civilian cooperation declined, except for the Israeli gas exports to Jordan, which are of strategic importance. Nonetheless, and despite Jordan’s frustration, anger and disappointment with Israel, new content can be infused into the relationship in order to rehabilitate it. Both states have a clear interest in cooperation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Peace, Trade
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on the role of energy in shaping Israel’s policies towards the Mediterranean. It is based on the main points raised at the fourth meeting of the research and policy group on “Israel in the Mediterranean” held in December 2019 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The meeting was held at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. This paper highlights the main repercussions of energy findings on regional cooperation and the opportunities it opens up for Israel. It presents the link between diplomatic and economic considerations, and the emerging energy alternatives that Israel is considering as it formulates and implements policies. The paper does not reflect agreement among all meeting participants.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Economy
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Mediterranean
  • Author: Gabriel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper explores the nexus between Israel’s energy policy and foreign policy interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. While regional energy cooperation has the potential to be one of the most significant and enduring Israeli foreign policy achievements in recent decades, a closer look at regional geopolitics reveals that energy cooperation is often transactional in nature, and rarely transformative. The discovery of offshore hydrocarbons has also aggravated existing tensions between regional actors. This subject deserves more serious discussion by Israeli policymakers and the Israeli public, who often accept the Netanyahu government’s argument that energy exports will provide Israel massive strategic benefits. As this paper argues, in order to chart an optimal course forward, Israelis must first have a realistic conversation about energy’s potential to catalyze changes in the Eastern Mediterranean that serve Israel’s domestic needs and strategic interests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Mediterranean
  • Author: Alaa Tartir
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The Palestinian political leadership’s obsession with the idea of statehood as a means to realise self-determination and freedom has proved to be detrimental to the struggle of decolonising Palestine. By prioritising “statehood under colonialism” instead of focusing on decolonising Palestine first and then engaging in state formation, the Palestinian leadership – under pressure from regional and international actors – disempowered the people and empowered security structures which ultimately serve the colonial condition.
  • Topic: State Formation, Colonialism, Decolonization, Repression
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto
  • Abstract: The Reach Project is a research initiative based in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. They examine the successful delivery of social services to those who are hardest to reach. This case study examines how the Ministry of Social Development in Palestine designed, implemented, and continues to refine the Palestinian National Cash Transfer Program (PNCTP) to specifically reach those who are hard to reach.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Poverty, Inequality, Social Services
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Moran Zaga
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel are primarily characterized by mutual interest and cautious rapprochement steps. The rapprochement can be attributed to the pragmatic character of the two states and their shared interests, including, inter alia, opposition to the Iranian nuclear program, opposing religious extremism, regional trade, modernization processes, handling similar environmental issues, and participation in global events and projects. The cautious approach and the limitations in these relations derive mainly from the UAE’s avoidance of official normalization with Israel due to the latter’s conduct regarding the Palestinian issue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Conflict, Rapprochement
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Yemen, Palestine, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document outlines major trends in Israel’s regional foreign policies over the past six months. It is based on the Mitvim Institute’s monthly reports that cover ongoing developments in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process/conflict, Israel’s relations with the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean, and the conduct of Israel’s Foreign Service.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Peace, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean, West Bank
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Israeli and Palestinian experts and activists – together with international diplomats – gathered on 31 October 2018 at the UN Headquarters in Jerusalem for a civil society roundtable discussion on “Regional Opportunities in Support of Current Efforts to Improve the Situation in Gaza.” The event, attended by some fifty participants, was initiated and convened by Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies and Israel-Palestine Creative Regional Initiatives (IPCRI). It included an opening address by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov and explored how various regional actors can help improve the situation in Gaza, without jeopardizing chances for a broader Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. It also identified recommendations and possible courses of action. The event was held in cooperation with FriedrichEbert-Stiftung, the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands, IEMed, and the EuroMeSCo Network. This paper summarizes the discussion.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Crisis Management, Peace, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In October 2018, the Mitvim Institute held its annual Israel-Turkey policy dialogue, for the seventh consecutive year. The dialogue took place in Istanbul, in cooperation with FriedrichEbert-Stiftung, and was participated by Dr. Nimrod Goren, Dr. Roee Kibrik and Arik Segal of the Mitvim Institute. The policy dialogue included a series of meetings and discussions, with Turkish scholars, journalists, former diplomats, and civil society activists. It focused on Israel-Turkey relations, in light of the current crisis in ties, and on Turkey’s foreign policy in the Middle East. The policy dialogue aimed at helping improve Israel-Turkey relations, by enabling experts from both countries to exchange views on regional developments, to identify opportunities for better bilateral relations, and to increase cooperation between researchers and policy analysts from both countries. Throughout the dialogue, there was a sense that Turkey and Israel can find a way to overcome their current crisis and to reinstate ambassadors. Nevertheless, such progress is not expected to lead to a significant breakthrough in the relations. The Turkish counterparts expressed hope that Israel and Turkey will resume talks on natural gas export from Israel; shared their concern over what they perceive as Israel's support of the Kurds in northern Syria; and pointed out that Turkey and Iran should not be considered by Israel as allies, but rather as countries that cooperate at times regarding shared interest but are also competing with each other and adhering to different ideologies and beliefs. The dialogue also emphasized the importance attributed in Turkey to Jewish community in the US, and to the impact it has on the American discourse towards Turkey as well as on US policy towards the Middle East. This paper highlights key insights from the meetings and discussions that took place throughout the policy dialogue. It does not reflect consensus among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Nimrod Goren, Nitzan Horowitz, Ronen Hoffman, Yohanan Plesner, Zehava Galon, Nadav Tamir, Ofer Shelah, Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Zouheir Bahloul, Elie Podeh, Einat Levi, Merav Michaeli
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The Mitvim Institute’s second annual conference took place in Tel Aviv on December 30, 2018. The conference explored alternative directions for Israeli foreign policy towards the April 2019 general elections. In recent years, Mitvim has formulated a series of guiding principles for a new Israeli foreign policy paradigm – a pro-peace, multi-regional, internationalist, modern and inclusive foreign policy. The conference sought to translate these principles into concrete policy directions, which will enable Israel to improve its foreign policy, increase its regional belonging in the Middle East and Europe, and make progress towards peace with the Palestinians. The conference featured Members of Knesset (MKs) Ofer Shelah and Merav Michaeli, Dr. Nimrod Goren, Dr. Ronen Hoffman, Zehava Galon, Nadav Tamir, Yohanan Plesner, Dr. Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Zouheir Bahloul, Prof. Elie Podeh, and Einat Levi. It was moderated by Nitzan Horowitz and Merav Kahana-Dagan of Mitvim. The conference was held in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, and can be watched (in Hebrew) on Mitvim’s YouTube channel.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, National Security, Diaspora, Democracy, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, European Union
  • Author: Adina Friedman
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The Israeli discourse surrounding regional cooperation tends to focus primarily on the Gulf States and on security issues; as such, it often overlooks more moderate and pro-Western countries in the region, and alternative cooperation tracks that are more along civil and cultural lines. Israel should pay more attention to Tunisia, which constitutes an important geographical, historical, and political crossroads along the Mediterranean coast; which provides insight into democratization processes; which is home to an ancient Jewish community; and which may serve as either an enabling or inhibiting factor for the realization of Israel’s interests in Africa. Despite the current political obstacles to relations between the two countries, there exists a precedent of positive relations and cooperation between Israel and Tunisia, and there is a possibility of expanding this cooperation in the future. Meanwhile, positive interpersonal, cultural, and civil relations should be advanced. These will assist future political relations, once changes occur in regional politics and progress is made in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Bilateral Relations, Arab Spring, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Israel, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Lior Lehrs
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: On Janury 28, 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he was terminating the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), an observer force established in 1994 after the massacre of Muslim worshipers in Hebron by the Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein. In January 1997, an agreement was signed between the Government of Israel, headed by Netanyahu, and the PLO setting out terms of the TIPH mandate. The sides repeatedly extended the agreement for over 20 years. The observers do not have military or policing functions, and they do not bear arms. Their task is to monitor and report on events and convey classified reports to each side, and to the TIPH contributing states. Netanyahu’s decision, to a large extent influenced by domestic pressure in the runup to the April 9 elections, generated expressions of concern and condemnation by the international community, both by the force’s contributing states such as Norway and Italy, and by Germany, the EU and the UN Secretary General. The reactions noted that the observer force had been an element of the Oslo process and played an important role in the volatile and sensitive city of Hebron, warning against the repercussions of its removal. Changing and adapting the mandate of the observer force should be conducted in a dialogue with the Palestinian Authority and TIPH states, and not dictated as a unilateral Israeli political decision.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Hebron
  • Author: Haim Koren
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article describes the relationship and cooperation between Israel and Egypt, and discusses the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on them. It focuses on the current political and security cooperation between the two countries regarding the Gaza Strip, the fight against terror, the Palestinian issue, the relations with the US administration, and the regional rivalry between Arab Sunni states and Iran. The article emphasizes that when it comes to civil and economic ties between Israel and Egypt, the potential for cooperation has yet to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, there are a few signs for economic cooperation in the areas of natural gas and industry (with the enlargement of the QIZ system), and to some positive change in the public attitude of the Egyptian government towards relations with Israel. The challenges to bolstering Israel-Egypt relations include bureaucratic, economic and politicalsecurity (e.g. the nuclear issue) components. Above all, however, stands the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and the perception of the Egyptian public that normalization with Israel cannot be reached prior to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In Israel, former diplomats do not tend to play a significant public role. However, they have the potential to make a real contribution to improving the public and political Israeli discourse on foreign policy. Israel’s former diplomats have dozens of years of experience, diplomatic skills, knowledge of various countries and organizations, intricate networks of social ties around the world, analytic capacity and deep understanding of the international arena and of Israel’s place among nations. This valuable experience often goes down the drain. A Mitvim Institute task-team recommended to increase their role in Israel’s public sphere, in order to empower Israel’s diplomacy and Foreign Service. On February 3, 2019, the Mitvim Institute hosted a policy workshop to discuss how this can be done. It was carried out in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and with participation of senior former diplomats (including Foreign Ministry directors-general and deputy directors-general). Discussants presented examples from other countries, outlined the situation in Israel, described the challenges to optimizing the potential impact of Foreign Ministry retirees, and identified recommendations to promote change.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel