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  • 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