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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
  • Author: David Makovksy
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Benny Gantz’s party lost the head-to-head battle, Avigdor Liberman’s favorable influence on the coalition math has left the general in a stronger position—and taken some diplomatic weight off the Trump administration’s shoulders. Israel’s third round of elections last week seemed inconclusive at first, but the deadlock may now be broken. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did better this time than in September’s round two, but his gains were insufficient to form a new government. Potential kingmaker Avigdor Liberman jettisoned his previous idea of getting the two top parties to join forces; instead, personal antipathy and policy differences have led him to definitely state that he will not join any government Netanyahu leads. Thus, while centrist Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz may have options to shape a new government, Netanyahu has no pathway on his own. In theory, the center-left bloc has the requisite number of seats for a bare majority in the 120-member Knesset, since anti-Netanyahu forces won 62 seats. In reality, the situation is more complex.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If the latest U.S. effort winds up backing the Palestinians into a territorial corner from the outset, then Washington may not be able to move the process any closer to direct negotiations. The newly released U.S. peace plan marks a very significant shift in favor of the current Israeli government’s view, especially when compared to three past U.S. initiatives: (1) the Clinton Parameters of December 2000, (2) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s “Annapolis Process” of 2007-2008, and (3) Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2013-2014 initiative. The message is clear: the Trump administration will no longer keep sweetening the deal with every Palestinian refusal, a criticism some have aimed at previous U.S. efforts. Yet the new plan raises worrisome questions of its own. Will its provisions prove so disadvantageous to the proposed Palestinian state that they cannot serve as the basis for further negotiations? And would such overreach enable Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to sway Arab states who have signaled that they want to give the proposal a chance, convincing them to oppose it instead? If so, the plan may wind up perpetuating the current diplomatic impasse and setting the stage for a one-state reality that runs counter to Israel’s identity as a Jewish, democratic state. This two-part PolicyWatch will address these questions by examining how the Trump plan compares to past U.S. initiatives when it comes to the conflict’s five core final-status issues. Part 1 focuses on two of these issues: borders and Jerusalem. Part 2 examines security, refugees, and narrative issues.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Borders, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ghaith al-Omari
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By granting Israel much more say over the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state and its ability to absorb refugees, the document may undermine the administration’s ability to build an international coalition behind its policies. President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan was presented as a departure from previous approaches—a notion that invited praise from its supporters (who saw it as a recognition of reality) and criticism from its opponents (who saw it as an abandonment of valued principles). The plan does in fact diverge from past efforts in fundamental respects, yet there are also some areas of continuity, and ultimately, the extent to which it gains traction will be subject to many different political and diplomatic variables. Even so, the initial substance of the plan document itself will play a large part in determining how it is viewed by various stakeholders, especially those passages that veer away from the traditional path on core issues. Part 1 of this PolicyWatch assessed what the plan says about two such issues: borders and Jerusalem. This second installment discusses security, refugee, and narrative issues.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Refugees, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A host of crucial multilateral interests are baked into the U.S. presence, from keeping the Islamic State down, to protecting vulnerable regional allies, to preventing Iran from taking Iraq's oil revenues. The assassination of Qasem Soleimani has brought the tensions in U.S.-Iraqi relations to a boil, with militia factions strong-arming a parliamentary resolution on American troop withdrawal and various European allies contemplating departures of their own. Before they sign the divorce papers, however, officials in Baghdad and Washington should consider the many reasons why staying together is best for both them and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Oil, Bilateral Relations, Islamic State, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Jordan, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Whether they reveal a detailed plan or merely preview an aspirational document, U.S. officials still need to clarify their goals at a time when elections are looming and Palestinian participation seems highly unlikely. In a dramatic move, President Trump has announced that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his leading rival, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, will visit the White House on January 28 to be briefed on the administration’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan. Trump told reporters that the plan would likely be released before the summit. Predictably, no invitation was extended to the Palestinian Authority, which severed relations with Washington after the U.S. embassy was moved to Jerusalem in 2017.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Negotiation, Peace, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Summary, Economy, 5-year summary, Key indicators
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Politics, Summary, Political structure
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economy, Economic structure, Charts and tables, Monthly trends charts
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Summary, Economy, Background, Fact sheet
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Economy, Outlook, Forecast, Overview
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Politics, Summary, Outlook, Briefing sheet
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Country Data and Maps
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Summary, Basic Data, Economy, Background
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz, Szymon Zaręba
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: On 12 November 2019, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) issued a judgment on products from Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Golan Heights. It states that EU members are required to ensure that the origin is properly marked. The implementation of this requirement may cause disputes in the EU because of differences in Member States’ policies towards Israel. Tensions in relations with the U.S. are also possible, especially in the context of that country’s recent change in policy favouring the Israeli position on settlements. Hence, it is advisable for the EU to develop a uniform policy regarding imports and labelling of products from all occupied territories.
  • Topic: International Law, Territorial Disputes, European Union, Occupation, Judiciary, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America, West Bank, Golan Heights
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia is strengthening its relations with both the Palestinian Authority leadership and Hamas in Gaza Strip. It is part of Russia’s consistent strategy towards the Middle East to build a network of influence among regional actors and boost its image as an attractive political partner. In developing relations with the Palestinians, Russia exploits Israel’s sensitivity to Russian activity in Syria, poor relations between Palestine and the U.S., and the deadlock in the peace process.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Israel took early preventive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic that contributed to low infection and mortality rates. This allowed lifting the restrictions and restarting the economy at the end of April. The cooperation undertaken with the Palestinian Authority helped limit the spread of COVID-19 across the Palestinian territories. The successful fight against the spread of the coronavirus in Israel has strengthened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but the newly earned support may be halted by the impending economic slowdown.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • 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
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This policy paper sets out the various interests and goals of global powers (the US, Russia, China and the EU) in the Mediterranean, and the measures they are undertaking to implement them. The document also describes Israeli policies vis-àvis the powers’ activities in this region, and points to the principles that should guide them. The paper is based on a July 2019 meeting in Jerusalem of the research and policy working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, 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.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, United States of America, 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: 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: Uzi Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s warning on the emergent Yemen-originating missile threat corresponds to Iran’s modus operandi of surrounding its foes with missile “rings of fire” and will enable Tehran to complete the missile encirclement of the Jewish state as a step toward its eventual demise. Israel must do its utmost to confront this new strategic threat by establishing an alert system and defense capabilities against Yemen-originating cruise and ballistic missiles, whatever the cost.
  • Topic: Security, Military Affairs, Geopolitics, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Yemen
  • Author: Uzi Rubin
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Operation Shahid Soleimani, the Iranian revenge attack for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, was less spectacular than the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities last September and was apparently controversial even within Iran’s top leadership. Still, Israel can learn lessons from it: that Iran’s regime is willing to take extraordinary risks when it feels humiliated; that in certain scenarios precision missiles can be as effective as combat aircraft; that even a few precision missiles can disrupt the operation of modern air bases; and that good public diplomacy is crucial for crisis management.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Weapons , Crisis Management, Risk, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Efraim Karsh
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: There is probably no more understated event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict than the San Remo Conference of April 1920. Convened for a mere week as part of the post-WWI peace conferences that created a new international order on the basis of indigenous self-rule and national self-determination, the San Remo conference appointed Britain as mandatory for Palestine with the specific task of “putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the British Government [i.e., the Balfour Declaration], and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” This mandate was then ratified on July 24, 1922 by the Council of the League of Nations—the postwar world organization and the UN’s predecessor. The importance of the Palestine mandate cannot be overstated. Though falling short of the proposed Zionist formula that “Palestine should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people,” it signified an unqualified recognition by the official representative of the will of the international community of the Jews as a national group—rather than a purely religious community—and acknowledgement of “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” as “the grounds for reconstituting their national home in the country.” It is a historical tragedy therefore that 100 years after this momentous event, the Palestinian leadership and its international champions remain entrenched in the rejection not only of the millenarian Jewish attachment to Palestine but of the very existence of a Jewish People (and by implication its right to statehood). Rather than keep trying to turn the clock backward at the certain cost of prolonging their people’s statelessness and suffering, it is time for this leadership to shed its century-long recalcitrance and opt for peace and reconciliation with their Israeli neighbors. And what can be a more auspicious timing for this process than the 100th anniversary of the San Remo Conference?
  • Topic: History, Zionism, Conflict, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • 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
  • Author: Victor Kattan
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: On 25 March 2019, U.S. president Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as part of Israel. The Golan Heights proclamation, which endorses Israel’s annexation of the territory captured from Syria in the 1967 war, was issued two weeks before the Israeli general election in a photo-op with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Undermining internationally agreed-upon norms prohibiting states from recognizing the annexation of territory by force, the proclamation could have detrimental consequences for the international legal order, providing a precedent for other states to take steps to annex territory they claim is necessary for their defense.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs, Occupation
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Shir Hever
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: German organizations are among the last Palestine solidarity groups in Europe to have embraced the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), launched in 2005. Pro-Israel German groups have been quick to respond with aggressive rhetoric equating a BDS-favorable stance with Nazism. The vilification of the movement has had the unintended consequence of inserting BDS into German politics, both at federal and local levels. Select case studies show that the BDS debate in Germany has developed somewhat differently than in other European countries, and that religious discourse is significant in shaping attitudes to Israel and Palestine. While the Palestine solidarity movement tends to single out the “Anti-Germans”—a pro-Israel formation that grew out of the Left after the reunification of Germany—as the major culprit, it is in fact conservative Christian, mostly Evangelical, organizations that are largely responsible for discouraging BDS activism.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Paul R. Pillar
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. administration’s Israeli-Palestinian “peace plan,” under President Donald Trump, has so far yielded only an inconclusive talkfest about economic development. The underlying rationale of the plan—that economics must come before any addressing of core political issues—is fundamentally flawed for several reasons. The biggest impediments to Palestinian economic development stem from aspects of the Israeli occupation that would continue under the plan, which rejects a two-state solution and is a slightly revised and renamed version of the current arrangement of limited Palestinian autonomy under Israeli domination. The plan flows directly from the Trump administration’s policy of acquiescing in the preferences of the right-wing government of Israel. Accordingly, the political portion of the plan is indefinitely delayed and might never be announced. Keeping the full plan under wraps serves the Israeli government’s purpose of holding out the promise of—but never delivering—peace with the Palestinians, while more facts are created on the ground
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, Fragile States, Populism
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Laila Parsons
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: The Peel Commission (1936–37) was the first British commission of inquiry to recommend the partition of Palestine into two states. The commissioners made their recommendation after listening to several weeks of testimony, delivered in both public and secret sessions. The transcripts of the public testimony were published soon afterward, but the secret testimony transcripts were only released by the United Kingdom’s National Archives in March 2017. Divided into two parts, this article closely examines the secret testimony. Part I discusses how the secret testimony deepens our understanding of key themes in Mandate history, including: the structural exclusion of the Palestinians from the Mandate state, the place of development projects in that structural exclusion, the different roles played by British anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism, and the importance of the procedural aspects of committee work for understanding the mechanics of British governance. Part II extends this analysis by focusing on what the secret testimony reveals about how the Peel Commission came to recommend partition.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Developments, Zionism, Colonialism, Empire, Anti-Semitism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Jeannette Greven
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC) mission in Jerusalem was created in 2005 to help implement security sector reform within the Palestinian Authority (PA). With a single-minded focus on “counterterrorism,” Washington considered the USSC an ancillary mechanism to support U.S. diplomatic and political efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite upending long-standing U.S. policy and cutting all other forms of aid to the Palestinians, the Trump administration has maintained the USSC in the run-up to the “Deal of the Century.” This article draws on original interviews with security personnel responsible for enacting USSC interventions. It uses their insights to highlight how the mission tethered Israeli political aims to its remit, and the distorting ramifications that have ensued for Palestine and the Palestinians. In uncovering the full parameters of Washington’s securitization policy, this history also points to the ways in which the PA has consequently been woven into the U.S.-led “global War on Terror.”
  • Topic: Security, Sovereignty, International Security, Military Affairs, Negotiation, Settler Colonialism
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem
  • Author: Dan Tsahor
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: This study follows the events that caused the depopulation of the village of Zakariyya, south of the Jaffa-Jerusalem road, during the summer of 1950. Using documents from state and military archives, the article constructs the story of the villagers’ expulsion and explores the role of the little-known Transfer Committee in initiating and promoting postwar expulsions of Palestinians from the newly established State of Israel. A close reading of the actions of individual committee members over the course of events uncovers both the Transfer Committee’s modus operandi and the ostensible rationale for the postwar depopulation of the village. The article argues that by packing the committee with representatives of major Israeli power centers, Chair Yosef Weitz in effect laid the groundwork for the continuing expulsion of Palestinians from Israel after the establishment of the state.
  • Topic: Migration, Population, Rural, Settler Colonialism, Nation-State
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Seth Anziska
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: A 2019 investigation by the Israeli NGO Akevot and Haaretz newspaper has uncovered official suppression of crucial documents about the Nakba in Israeli archives. The Journal of Palestine Studies is publishing print excerpts and a full online version of the buried “migration report,” which details Israel’s depopulation of Palestinian villages in the first six months of the 1948 war, a document that clearly undermines official Israeli state narratives about the course of events. In methodical fashion, this report provides contemporaneous documentation of Israeli culpability in the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and the systematic depopulation of so-called Arab villages in the first six months of the war. Alongside a discussion of key revelations in the newly available document, this introduction situates the broader pattern of erasure within historiographical debates over 1948 and questions of archival access. It examines how accounts of Israel’s birth and Palestinian statelessness have been crafted in relation to the underlying question: who has permission to narrate the past?
  • Topic: Security, Migration, Population, Ethnic Cleansing, Settler Colonialism, State Building
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Munir Fakher Eldin
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: In 1967, Israel occupied the western section of Syria’s Golan Heights, expelling some 130,000 of its inhabitants and leaving a few thousand people scattered across five villages. Severed from Syria, this residual and mostly Druze community, known as the Jawlanis, has been subjected to systematic policies of ethno-religious identity reformulation and bureaucratic and economic control by the Israeli regime for half a century. This essay offers an account of the transformation of authority, class, and the politics of representation among what is now the near 25,000-strong Jawlani community, detailing the impact of Israeli occupation both politically and economically. During an initial decade and a half of direct military rule, Israel secured the community’s political docility by restoring traditional leaders to power; but following full-on annexation in 1981, new forces emerged from the popular resistance movement that developed in response. Those forces continue to compete for social influence and representation today.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, National Security, Population, Occupation, Ethnic Cleansing, Settler Colonialism
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine
  • 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: Dean Vuletic
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: After winning the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) with her song “Toy” (inspired by the #MeToo movement), Netta Barzilai issued the declaration, “Next year in Jerusalem!” By using the traditional Jewish phrase, she was suggesting that the 2019 ESC would be held in that city.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Culture, Music
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Josh Dean
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: A little over a month ago, I wrote of an atmosphere of resignation in Israel among Netanyahu’s political opponents leading up to the Israeli parliamentary elections on April 9th. The smattering of center-left parties seeking to rival Netanyahu’s Likud at the ballot box were divided across a range of tickets, unable to put their egos aside and form a joint bloc capable of presenting a veritable challenge to the incumbent prime minister. The long-reigning Israeli leader’s tenure looked, therefore, set to extend even further. The question was not who will be the next prime minister, but rather “Who will be the next Bibi [Netanyahu]?” as Israeli comedian Tom Aharon quipped. But a lot can change in a day of Israeli politics, never mind a month. As political alliances shift rapidly, the announcement of Netanyahu’s indictment on fraud and corruption charges has further destabilized the already-turbulent atmosphere leading up to the April elections.
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Law, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Alex Vatanka
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a cleric who will turn 80 in July 2019 and has ruled over Iran since 1989, has made a political career out of demonizing the United States. And yet, he knows full well that at some point—whether in his lifetime or after—Tehran has to turn the page and look for ways to end the bad blood that started with the birth of the Islamic Republic in 1979. But Khamenei’s efforts to make the United States a strawman are not easily undone in present-day Tehran, where anti-Americanism is the top political football, as the two main factions inside the regime—the hardliners versus the so-called reformists—battle it out for the future of Iran. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” on Iran has made it all but impossible for Khamenei to meet Washington half-way. Accordingly, the best Khamenei can do for now is to wait out the Trump White House. There will be no Khamenei-Trump summits. That much is abundantly clear if one listens to the chatter from Tehran. But the issue of possible relations with post-Trump America is still hotly contested in the Islamic Republic. In the meantime, with Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions from November 2018, Tehran’s hope in the short term is that Europe, together with Iran’s more traditional supporters in Moscow and Beijing, can give Iran enough incentive so that it can ride out the next few years as its economy comes under unprecedented pressure.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Sanctions, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu hopes to capture his fifth term in the April 9 national elections, and polls show he has a clear lead over other candidates, retaining support from approximately a quarter of the electorate. Yet it is insufficient to merely have the most votes; to govern, the winner must subsequently cobble together a majority of at least 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset. Netanyahu is also under the shadow of potential corruption indictments pending a hearing that would occur after the elections.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Israel's April elections draw near and Palestinians continue looking toward presidential and legislative votes of their own, it is the responsibility of pollsters to identify changes in public attitudes on both sides and in the wider Arab arena. To discuss what recent surveys can tell us about the Israeli-Palestinian political climate, the prospects for renewed momentum toward peace, and related issues, The Washington Institute is pleased to host a Policy Forum with three renowned pollsters, Nader Said, Tamar Hermann, and David Pollock.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Ghaith al-Omari, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the peace treaty, both parties and the United States have strategic interests in upholding and reinforcing the relationship. The optimism that characterized the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty a quarter-century ago has long since dissipated. Today, the peace rests on a strong security foundation but lacks popular support, particularly on the Jordanian side. Nevertheless, there remain important opportunities for strengthening Israel-Jordan relations and preserving that pillar of America’s steadily eroding security architecture in the Middle East. It is critical for Washington to prioritize Jordan on its agenda. This includes urging the still-to-be-formed Israeli government to take responsible action on two fronts: keeping Amman’s interests in mind when formulating policy toward the West Bank, and implementing long-delayed initiatives that would help Jordan’s struggling economy.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, Jordan, United States of America
  • Author: Assaf Orion
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Second Lebanon War, between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah, ended August 14, 2006. Since that summer, populations on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border have enjoyed the longest calm in their troubled history, thirteen years and counting. Mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), an entity first established in the late 1970s, was expanded, and its 10,500 peacekeepers are busy and visible. UN reports over the past thirteen years emphasize the general calm. But calm does not mean safe and secure. During the war, Hezbollah launched approximately four thousand rockets out of its arsenal of twelve thousand toward Israel. Since the war, Iran has invested billions of dollars in building its Lebanese proxy military force throughout Lebanon, including in the south.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, Conflict, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Neri Zilber
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The items being moved from Egypt through Salah al-Din Gate underline the contradictions and long-term unsustainability of the current stalemate regarding Gaza assistance. The Gaza Strip has been blockaded for more than a decade now, owing primarily to the violent takeover and continued militant rejectionism of the territory’s Hamas rulers. Even after certain restrictions were eased after the 2014 Gaza war, Israel and Egypt maintained tight limits on the entry of goods into the coastal enclave. This policy began to fray in early 2018 as conditions inside Gaza further deteriorated, culminating in the “Great March of Return” border demonstrations and short-lived rounds of escalation between Israel and Hamas. Indirect negotiations over a long-term truce have since provided some relief, yet the impact of one of the most noteworthy concessions has been under-examined—namely, the opening in 2018 of Salah al-Din Gate, a commercial border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. This crossing puts the lie to the narrative of a “besieged” Gaza, yet also raises questions about Israel’s continuing blockade policy and Hamas’s pretensions to be a responsible ruling entity.
  • Topic: Border Control, Borders, Trade, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Ahmad Saiful Rijal Bin Hassan, Kenneth Yeo Yaoren, Amresh Lavan Gunasingham
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The discourse on religious extremism in the past few decades has largely been dominated by Islamist-oriented trends and actors. However, there are emerging alternate discourses of religious extremism that are becoming relevant in South and Southeast Asia – Buddhist and Hindu extremism. The March Issue thus focuses on Sri Lanka and Myanmar as case studies depicting the rise of Buddhist extremism and related intolerance towards the minority Muslim communities. The Issue also delves into two different responses to counter-terrorism by the state and community stakeholders in their bid to tackle religious-motivated terrorist groups. It takes a look at two divergent ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ counter-terrorism responses: (i) leadership decapitation; and (ii) the Danish de-radicalisation programme. First, Amresh Gunasingham narrows in on radical Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Myanmar focusing on the rise of the Bodu Bolu Sena (BBS) and Ma Ba Tha groups respectively. The author argues that these groups, rooted in Theravada Buddhism, have justified intolerance and violence towards minority Muslim populations that could escalate further, if neglected or exploited by the state. In Sri Lanka, periodic attacks against Muslims since 2014 and the legitimacy of groups such as BBS have emboldened a segment of the Sinhalese Buddhists. In Myanmar, the violent clashes between the Buddhist majority and the Rohingya, minority Muslim community since 2012, coupled with Ma Ba Tha’s rhetoric bordering on Islamophobia, have exacerbated intolerant ethno-nationalist sentiments within the country. The author proposes the need for a national identity that is inclusive and peaceful in both countries with political leaders taking a stand against intolerant narratives to mitigate long-term unrest. Kenneth Yeo Yaoren discusses leadership decapitation as a counter-terrorism strategy, which includes killing or arresting the senior leadership of a terrorist group. The author outlines the varying outcomes of the strategy in the context of religiously-motivated terrorist groups in the Israel-Palestine and Malay Archipelago regions. The impact of leadership decapitation on four key groups: Hamas, Hezbollah, Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah in terms of the frequency and lethality of attacks after the arrests or killings of their leaders are observed. It is argued that, “leadership decapitation is not a silver bullet against terrorism”, necessitating broader responses to counter the ideology and operational strength of religiously-motivated terrorist groups. Lastly, Ahmad Saiful Rijal Bin Hassan focuses on Denmark’s de-radicalisation programme in light of the returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) phenomenon. The author delineates the components and key features of the ‘De-radicalisation – Targeted Intervention’ and the ‘De-radicalisation Back on Track’ projects which constitute a ‘soft’ approach towards dealing with homegrown terrorists and FTFs in the country. Overall, three guiding principles dictate Denmark’s de-radicalisation programme – (i) inclusion over exclusion; (ii) collaboration between public, private and people sector bodies; and (iii) assumption that every individual aspires to live a ‘good life’. The article then focuses on the perceived efficacy of the programme in the Danish context vis-a-vis contending views made by other interested observers.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Political stability, Conflict, Buddhism, Hinduism
  • Political Geography: Europe, South Asia, Israel, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Denmark, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The significance of the Eastern Mediterranean for Israel has increased in the last decade, an outcome of interlocking factors associated with the civil war in Syria, the deterioration of relations with Turkey, and discoveries of new gas fields. The effectiveness of Israeli policy, especially in energy issues, depends on strengthening relations with the states of the region, such as Egypt or Cyprus. Hence, regional cooperation will deepen, which may have a positive impact on Israel-EU relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Regional Cooperation, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: R2P Monitor is a bimonthly bulletin applying the Responsibility to Protect lens to populations at risk of mass atrocities around the world. Issue 45 looks at developments in Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Syria, Yemen, Cameroon, Nigeria, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Mali, South Sudan and Venezuela.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Human Rights, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Israel, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestine, Syria, Venezuela, Nigeria, Burundi, Mali, Myanmar, South Sudan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: The 40th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) was held in Geneva between 25 February and 22 March 2019. As the primary international human rights body, the Human Rights Council has the capacity to prevent and respond to mass atrocity crimes, as systematic violations and abuses of human rights can be potential indicators of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing. The summary below highlights major outcomes and relevant dialogues from the 40th session as they relate to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from such crimes. As part of the session, the Netherlands delivered a statement on behalf of members of the Group of Friends of R2P.
  • Topic: International Law, State Violence, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities, UN Human Rights Council (HRC)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North Korea, Palestine, United Nations, Nicaragua, Syria, Myanmar, South Sudan, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: R2P Monitor is a bimonthly bulletin applying the Responsibility to Protect lens to populations at risk of mass atrocities around the world. Issue 44 looks at developments in Afghanistan, Myanmar (Burma), Syria, Yemen, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan and Venezuela.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Sudan, Israel, Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Venezuela, Nigeria, Myanmar, South Sudan, Cameroon, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: R2P Monitor is a bimonthly bulletin applying the Responsibility to Protect lens to populations at risk of mass atrocities around the world. Issue 43 looks at developments in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Myanmar (Burma), Syria, Yemen, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Nicaragua, Nigeria, South Sudan and Venezuela.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Sudan, Israel, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestine, Nicaragua, Syria, Nigeria, Burundi, Myanmar, South Sudan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Global Focus
  • 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
  • Author: Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Benjamin Netanyahu won Israel’s election and declared he would form a new rightwing government. This will affect diverse aspects of Israel’s foreign policy. This document includes commentaries by Mitvim Institute experts regarding the election results and their possible foreign policy implications: Dr. Ehud Eiran argues that while Netanyahu presented himself ahead of the election as a super-diplomat, he also proved he is part of the global populist wave; Dr. Nimrod Goren claims that Israel’s right-wing government will have more leeway to implement its policies given weak domestic and foreign opposition; Dr. Roee Kibrik foresees increased tensions between Israel and leading global democratic forces; Dr. Lior Lehrs explains why the new government will face the threat of flare-ups at several Israeli-Palestinian flashpoints; Dr. Moran Zaga points out why Netanyahu constitutes an obstacle to promoting ties with Gulf States, as does the lack of a broad Israel strategy on relations with the Arab world; Former Ambassador Michael Harari claims that renewed peace process with the Palestinians is needed to take advantage of global and regional opportunities; Kamal Ali-Hassan assesses that Israel’s Arab population is losing trust in the state establishment and will seek to promote regional ties on its own; Dr. Eyal Ronen urges the new government to deepen its partnership with the EU rather than to continue its efforts to weaken and divide it; Yael Patir argues that Israel’s crisis with the US Democratic Party could deepen, especially as the 2020 presidential election draws near.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Muriel Asseburg, Nimrod Goren, Nicolai von Ondarza, Eyal Ronen, Muriel Asseburg
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Over the last 40 years, since the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty (that alluded to but did not solve the Palestinian question) and the European Community’s 1980 Venice Declaration, Europe has been seeking ways to help advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. The task was not an easy one, mostly due to United States of America (US) dominance of peace negotiations and negative Israeli attitudes towards Europe as a mediator. Thus, while Europeans were key in shaping international language on the conflict, they have remained in the back seat when it comes to shaping dynamics on the ground. Since the collapse in 2014 of the John Kerry initiative to advance the peace process, the task has become even more difficult for the Europeans. Realities on the ground, such as a right-wing government in Israel lacking interest in advancing a peace process, expanded settlement construction, as well as the internal Palestinian split and governance deficiencies in the Palestinian Authority, make the two-state solution ever more difficult to achieve. In addition, Israel’s leadership has worked to weaken and divide the EU in order to limit its role on the issue. In this endeavor, it has profited from different interests and priorities among EU Member States as reflected in discussions and decision-making processes regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These trends have increasingly intensified in recent years, and it is the goal of this publication to analyze them, assess their impact on European capacities and policies, and devise recommendations to tackle and perhaps even reverse them. The publication includes three analytical chapters focusing on internal European dynamics, on Israel’s foreign policy towards the EU, and on EU policy-making regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict/peace process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In recent years, the Eastern Mediterranean has become a central focus of world powers, of states in the Middle East, Europe, and beyond, and of international corporations. Regional geopolitical developments, as well as economic opportunities generated by natural gas discoveries in the Mediterranean, have contributed to this trend and turned the Eastern Mediterranean into a distinct sub-region perceived as having unique features. Israel plays a central role in this development. Israeli diplomacy identified these trends correctly, successfully becoming an active and dominant player in the region. The natural gas findings in Israel’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) provide it with a wider range of diplomatic options, helping it promote relationships with various states in the region; including some engaged in conflict with each other. Israelis regard the Mediterranean as an important component of their identity, as reflected in the 2018 Israeli Foreign Policy Index of the Mitvim Institute, in which 22 percent of those surveyed claimed Israel belongs predominantly to this region (compared with 28 percent who said it belongs to the Middle East and 23 percent to Europe).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Emanuele Giaufret, Omer Gendler, Noga Arbell, Ariel Shafransky, Eran Etzion, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: A policy roundtable on the 2019 European Parliament elections results and their possible significance for Europe and Israel took place on 30 May 2019 at Tel Aviv University. It was organized by the Israeli Association for the Study of European Integration (IASEI), Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, the EU Studies Program at Tel Aviv University, and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The event featured EU Ambassador to Israel H.E. Emanuele Giaufret, Ariel Shafransky and Noga Arbell from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Maya Sion of IASEI, Dr. Nimrod Goren of the Mitvim Institute, former diplomat Eran Etzion, and Omer Gendler of the Open University.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Ties with the EU are a strategic asset for the State of Israel. Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, a source of political and defense support (despite disagreements), an anchor of shared norms and values, a partner in cultural creation, and a central collaborator in research and development. The importance of these ties obliges Israel to invest attention and resources in preserving and even deepening and expanding them. Done right, Israel could leverage the tremendous potential of its ties with Europe for the improved wellbeing of its citizens and for its international standing. However, in recent years, the Israeli government has been leading a negative campaign against the EU. It has been criticizing the EU for being anti-Israel, while making efforts to increase divisions between EU Member States in order to limit the EU’s capacity to play a role in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Toward the formation of a new Israeli government in late 2019, this article presents ten guiding principles for an improved Israeli foreign policy toward the EU, based on the work of a Mitvim Institute task team.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, International Affairs, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, European Union
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: For the past two years, Mitvim Institute experts have been studying the changing relations between Israel and key Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. They examined the history of Israel’s ties with each of these states; the current level of Israel’s diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation with them; the potential for future cooperation and the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel’s ties in the Middle East. Based on their research and on task-team deliberations, the experts put together a snapshot of the scope of existing and potential cooperation between Israel and key Arab states, as of mid-2019.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • 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: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The changes taking place in the Middle East generate new opportunities for Israel in its relationships with the Arab world. Absent progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, these opportunities remain limited in scope, but significant in terms of Israel’s efforts to reshape its relations in the region. This document presents Israel’s major opportunities as of mid-2019 in order to raise awareness of their very existence and encourage policy planning measures and decision-making to fulfill their potential. It is the product of a discussion by the Mitvim Institute task team on Israel’s ties with the Arab world, participated by Yitzhak Gal, Dr. Nimrod Goren, Einat Levi, Merav Kahana-Dagan, Dr. Roee Kibrik, Dr. Moran Zaga and Dr. Ronen Zeidel
  • Topic: International Relations, Regional Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Dubai
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: For the past two years, Mitvim Institute experts have been studying the changing relations between Israel and key Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. They examined the history of Israel’s ties with each of these states; the current level of Israel’s diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation with them; the potential for future cooperation and the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel’s ties in the Middle East. Based on their research and on task-team deliberations, the experts put together a snapshot of the scope of existing and potential cooperation between Israel and key Arab states, as of mid-2019.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Towards the Israeli general elections of September 2019, the Mitvim Institute conducted a public opinion poll that examined who Israelis would like to see as their foreign minister, how they perceive the status of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and how they assess the outgoing government’s performance on key foreign policy issues. The poll was carried out in August 2019 by the Rafi Smith Institute and in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, among a representative sample of Israel’s adult population (700 men and women, Jews and Arabs) and with a margin of error of 3.5%.
  • Topic: Government, International Affairs, Public Opinion, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Yuval Steinitz, Ofer Shelah, Merav Michaeli, Yisrael Beiteinu, Nitzan Horowitz, Ofer Cassif
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: On 9 September 2019, the Mitvim Institute convened a pre-elections event on Israel’s foreign policy. The event focused on paths to advance peace with the Palestinians; to deepen Israel’s regional belonging in the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean; and to empower Israel’s diplomacy Foreign Service. Senior politicians from six political parties spoke at the event: Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud), Member of Knesset (MK) Ofer Shelah (Blue and White), MK Merav Michaeli (Labor-Gesher), MK Eli Avidar (Yisrael Beiteinu), Nitzan Horowitz (Chair of the Democratic Union) and MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List). Each of them was interviewed by Arad Nir, foreign news editor of Channel 12 News. Dr. Nimrod Goren and Merav Kahana-Dagan of Mitvim delivered opening remarks in which they presented recent trends in Israel’s foreign policy and findings of a special pre-elections Mitvim poll. This document sums up the key points made at the event.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Dan Miodownik, Lior Lehrs, Benny Miller, Piki Ish-Shalom, Noa Landau, Yigal Palmor, Nitzan Horowitz, Tamar Hermann, Arthur Koll, Roee Kibrik, Daniel Shek, Ksenia Svetlova, Ehud Eiran, Nadav Tamir, Stav Shafir, Aida Touma-Sliman, Zvi Hauser
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: On 11 June 2019, the Mitvim Institute and the Davis Institute held a conference at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on democracy and foreign policy in Israel. It included sessions on democracy, international relations and the challenges to the liberal world order; the erosion of democracy in Israel and its impact on foreign relations; and the democracy component in Israel’s relations with surrounding regions. Speakers included scholars, former diplomats, activists, journalists and politicians. This document sums up the main points of the conference.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Sana Knaneh
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, who feel their political representatives cannot achieve significant change for them on domestic issues, find it hard to believe that their voice could be meaningful in Israel’s foreign relations. Indeed, their involvement in Israeli foreign relations, both in the governmental and non-governmental arena, is limited. However, one area in which their involvement and influence have significant untapped potential lies in forging ties with Diaspora Jewry. For instance, in London, there is a clear disconnect between the representative bodies of the Jewish community, such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, and those representing the Palestinian community, such as The Association of the Palestinian Community in the UK and the Palestinian Forum in Britain which reflect the main currents of Palestinian thinking. While the disconnect is evident on the formal-organizational level, it does not preclude unofficial ties between Palestinians and Jews in London. Nonetheless, links between the two communities are limited, as is the space for joint discussions and exchanges of views, thoughts and narratives.
  • Topic: Politics, Sovereignty, Diaspora, Minorities, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Britain, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The seventh annual public opinion poll of the Mitvim Institute on Israel’s foreign policy was conducted in September 2019. It was carried out by the Rafi Smith Institute and in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, among a representative sample of Israel’s adult population (700 men and women, Jews and Arabs) and with a margin of error of 3.5%. This report presents the poll’s key findings, grouped under four categories: Israel’s foreign relations, Israel’s Foreign Service, Israel and its surrounding regions, and Israel and the Palestinians.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Lior Lehrs
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The question of the affinity between the Israeli-Palestinian track and the Israeli-Arab track is a contentious issue in Israeli public discourse. Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly claims that the Palestinian issue can be bypassed on the road to normalization with the Arab world, even without progress on that front. However, the history of Israeli-Jordanian relations attests to the strong and intrinsic link between these two arenas. The breakthrough that led to the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan was enabled by progress in negotiations with the Palestinians, and every crisis since in the Palestinian arena is reflected in relations with Jordan. All attempts to warm relations with Jordan and increase cooperation on civil issues (beyond the intelligence and military cooperation) require a parallel move vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Affairs, Bilateral Relations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Yitzhak Gal, Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Towards the 25th anniversary of the peace treaty with Jordan, Mitvim experts visited Amman for a series of meetings with political, security, media and civil society figures in Jordan. The purpose of the visit was to assess the current status and challenges of Israeli-Jordanian relations, better understand how these challenges are impacted by the situation in Jordan and developments in the region, and identify opportunities for improving relations between the two countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Dahlia Scheindlin
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, Israel has accelerated a long-term process of annexation in the West Bank through legal, political, physical and rhetorical steps that are both explicit, and increasingly irreversible. What kind of reaction can Israel expect from the international community if these policies continue? This paper summarizes the annexationist trends in Israel, then examines cases of post-World War II annexation, to map the range of international reactions. The analysis shows that the international community (states and meta-state bodies) has responded with diverse tools, all designed to oppose and deter annexation. Yet such measures have only rarely stopped or reversed annexation. When annexation was stopped or reversed, the international pressure focused on violations of other major international norms or reflected state interests. Israeli annexation outright, but the international community can be expected to step up concrete policies of opposition. Not only would such responses not be unique to Israel – it would be an anomaly if the international community did not undertake opposition measures. The paper concludes by proposing that the international community develop a more expansive understanding of the concept of annexation to improve deterrence, and re-commit itself to the fundamental proscription against conquering territory by force.
  • Topic: International Relations, Conflict, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, West Bank
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Colette Avital, Paul Pasch, Ksenia Svetlova, Michael Harari, Dan Catarivas, Ido Zelkovitz, Max Stern Yezreel, Lior Lehrs, Dahlia Scheindlin, Kamal Ali-Hassan, Nadav Tamir, Yair Lapid, Susanna Terstal
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The Mitvim Institute 3rd annual conference provided an annual assessment of Israel's regional foreign policies. It was held in Tel Aviv on 14 November 2019, in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The conference included sessions on Israel's ties with its adjacent regions – moderated by Dr. Nimrod Goren, and participated by Amb. (ret.) Michael Harari, former Member of Knesset (MK) Ksenia Svetlova, Dr. Ido Zelkovitz and Dan Catarivas – and on the quest for IsraeliPalestinian peace in Israeli statesmanship – moderated by Yael Patir and participated by Dr. Lior Lehrs, Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, Kamal Ali-Hassan and Nadav Tamir. MK Yair Lapid (Blue and White party) and EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Susanna Terstal delivered the keynote speeches. This document summarizes the main points covered by the speakers.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Public Opinion, Conflict, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Henry Sokolski
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: This report is the culmination of a two-year project sponsored by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, which engaged more than 50 senior, retired and serving policymakers, intelligence officers, and top academic national security analysts. Its findings are based on hours of group discussions and private conversations that helped develop new primary histories of eight nuclear proliferation cases: India, Pakistan, Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, Libya, and an Argentine and a separate South African nuclear rocket case. Each history was prepared by an academic historian and was based on open sources. Former officials who had direct roles in these cases then critiqued these accounts. Additional private interviews were conducted with participants to fill in historical gaps. The purpose of the case studies was to identify when and how intelligence shaped or prompted nonproliferation policy actions and, if it did not, why. This set of historical conclusions prompted a more general discussion of how policy and intelligence officials might improve their collaboration to prevent and curb further nuclear proliferation and how academics might contribute by enhancing their treatment of such issues. The project addressed three broad, related questions: How can the role of intelligencein the making of nonproliferation policy be improved? How can the nonproliferation agenda get the priority it deserves? How can the nonproliferation community be sustained and strengthened?
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons, History, Nuclear Power, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Africa, South Asia, Middle East, India, Israel, Taiwan, Asia, South Korea, Libya, South Africa, Argentina, South America, North Africa
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Much of the Middle East’s recent turmoil stems from internecine Middle Eastern rivalries spilling onto third country battlefields and Saudi and UAE-led efforts to roll back the achievements of the 2011 popular Arab revolts and pre-empt further uprisings. The recent successful toppling of ailing Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and months of anti-government demonstrations that have put Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir on the defensive suggest that the Saudi-UAE effort may be faltering.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Yaakov Lappin
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In recent months, the Israeli defense establishment has made increasing use of “information campaigns,” or exposure through the media of enemy activity that has been detected by Israeli intelligence. This modus operandi has developed into an alternative to kinetic strikes
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Russia’s geopolitical projection has shifted over the past two decades. The country has tried to reverse its losses in Ukraine and the South Caucasus, but it is in Belarus that Moscow will most likely try to further extend its leverage to keep the EU and NATO at bay.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Yaakov Lappin
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Trump administration’s decision to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity will ultimately be judged by how successful it is in changing Iran’s conduct.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The US designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, and the Iranian response, has potentially put US military personnel in the region in harm’s way. The designation increases economic pressure on Iran because the IRGC is not only an army but also a commercial conglomerate – but it remains to be seen to what degree the sanctions will affect the IRGC
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Emil Avdaliani
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: China’s grand Belt and Road Initiative, which is intended to connect the Asia-Pacific with the European market, had a major boost in March when Italy – the first of the G7 states – effectively signed onto the project. This event illustrates how difficult it is becoming for European countries to resist Chinese investment at a time of economic troubles in the EU
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: George N Tzogopoulos
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The prospective EastMed pipeline would be the flagship project of the Cypriot-Greek-Israeli collaboration, a developing friendship that enjoys deep foundations. The US has now made its support for that partnership official.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Jiri Valenta, Leni Friedman Valenta
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Although Vladimir Putin has not articulated the final objective of his proxy war in eastern Ukraine, his actions seem to indicate that he is determined to create a land bridge from Mariupol to Odessa – two major seaports vitally important to Ukraine's economy. Putin's overall strategy in Ukraine seems to be to strangle it economically by disrupting shipping between the Odessa and Azov Sea ports, with the aim of eventually subjugating Ukraine to Russia
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Israel