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  • Author: Zaha Hassan, Daniel Levy, Hallaamal Keir, Marwan Muasher
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: A new U.S. approach should prioritize protecting the rights and human security of Palestinians and Israelis over maintaining a peace process and attempting short-term fixes. The authors of this paper identified four overarching areas of focus: (1) prioritize rights and protect people, (2) roll back the Trump administration’s actions and reassert international law, (3) clarify expectations for Palestinians and Israelis, and (4) support new multilateral approaches and accountability.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Daniela Huber
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Historically speaking, the European Community and then the European Union have always reacted with paradigm changes in their foreign policies to watershed moments in the Middle East. In response to the two Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973, the European Community actually set up its own foreign policy in the first place and initiated the Euro-Arab Dialogue. After the Camp David Accords, the nine foreign ministers came out with the Venice Declaration in 1980 which reminded its partners in Washington and Tel Aviv that the Palestine question had been ignored and set the parameters for diplomacy in the 1990s. After the Cold War, however, the European Union became absorbed into the so-called Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), resulting in less independent EU agency on Israel/Palestine. This trend has become particularly obvious over the past four years of the Trump presidency, during which time the EU seemed almost paralyzed. While Europeans are now counting on the incoming Biden administration, during the election campaign Joe Biden stated that he will leave the US embassy in Jerusalem and that he is also favourable of the normalization deals between Israel and certain Arab states which President Trump had pushed for. At the same time, the Biden team seems hesitant to return to negotiations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, Territorial Disputes, European Union, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Adel Abdel Ghafar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The role played by countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Eastern Mediterranean is becoming increasingly important. This calls for an assessment of their evolving relationship with countries in the region, as well as their involvement in the Libyan conflict. Increased involvement by Gulf actors may inflame existing regional rivalries and geopolitical tensions. The interests of GCC countries in the Eastern Mediterranean are first analysed in the broader context of regional rivalries. Special attention is then devoted to Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Greece and Cyprus, while considering the role of other key regional actors such as Turkey and Israel. Recommendations on why and how the new US administration should intervene to decrease regional tensions are provided.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Gulf Nations, Geopolitics, Economy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The progressive camp in Israel has been trying for years to find its way back to the corridors of power and influence, so far unsuccessfully. Those seeking strategies and tactics for change often wonder whether the solution to Israel’s problems will emerge from without, for example driven by international pressure, or from within, by convincing and mobilizing the Israeli public. A third option to this dichotomy has emerged in recent years in the shape of combined and coordinated moves both within Israeli society and in cooperation with allies abroad.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Nationalism, Politics, Partnerships, Populism, Progressivism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Gabriel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: For decades, the US operated as the central mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. However, after decades of stalled negotiations, it is likely that future peacemaking efforts will be multilateral, reliant on an orchestra of international actors who can support specific processes that, in concert, could encourage Israelis and Palestinians to reapproach one another. This piece examines the role of Greece and Cyprus, two regional actors whose strategic relationship with Israel has strengthened over the last decade, could help advance peace. Though secondary players in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there are concrete ways that both states – if invited by the central parties – could contribute to a more conducive environment for cooperation and dialogue.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, International Affairs, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Cyprus
  • 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: Yara Hawari
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As of early September 2020 more than 27 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded worldwide, along with approximately 890,000 deaths. After many months of lockdown, countries are having to re-open despite growing infection rates and fears of a second wave while people adapt to a “new normal” which includes restrictions, social distancing and limited travel. At the start of the lockdowns, many Palestinians commented that the world now finally understood what life was like for them. Particularly in the West Bank and Gaza, the curfews, the closure of public spaces, the inability or difficulty to travel, lingering anxiety and perpetual uncertainty are features common to Palestinian life. However, this new global reality reflects only a fraction of the Palestinian experience of suffering from nearly a century of ongoing settler colonialism.
  • Topic: Health, Settler Colonialism, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ekaterina Stepanova
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As Russia has become a major external player in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region due to its military engagement in Syria since 2015, it has acted as a balancer and mediator in several regional controversies and has continued to serve as a security guarantor for the Syrian state. This course has brought Moscow some practical dividends, such as growing economic and military-technical cooperation with select MENA countries, and has spurred its broader international profile. However, entering the 2020s, the risks of more active engagement in the Middle East have also mounted, making Russia’s balancing act more difficult. In three cases where Russia’s involvement has been visible (Syria, Libya and the Israeli-Palestinian problem), evolving developments challenge Moscow’s acquired influence and multi-vector approach, but also create new opportunities for its engagement and mediation. Above all, the 2020 US–Iran crisis catalysed the urgent need for structured regional dialogue, especially across the Persian Gulf. While this requires direct interaction between the region’s main antagonists, the initial impulse to unlock the trans-Gulf impasse might need to come from the outside. A process-oriented blueprint for inclusive multilateral security in the Gulf proposed by Russia in 2019 is a step in the right direction, but to be activated it may need to come as part of some broader international initiative.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Israel, Libya, Palestine, North Africa, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper scans the interests and activities of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt in the Mediterranean Basin – their varying and competing interests, their points of convergence and cooperation, and the challenges and opportunities for Israel. The paper is based on the main points raised at the third meeting of the working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held in September 2019 in the Herzliya offices of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The paper shines a spotlight on key elements in regional relationships and significant activity taking place in the Mediterranean Basin, which Israel must consider in formulating and executing policy. It is based on the presentations and discussions conducted at the event and does not reflect agreement among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Michal Yaari
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article focuses on relations between Israel and Qatar, analyzing them in historical context, in the context of Qatari foreign policy and in terms of their potential and the limitations imposed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The article describes the shift from a mutual conception of hostility to unusual cooperation over the Gaza crisis. While Israel aspires to avoid additional rounds of violence with Gaza, Qatar seeks to strengthen its regional role as a mediator, and mutual interests converge into joint activity to avert an additional military clash between Hamas and Israel. The cooperation between the states illustrates how the Palestinian issue can leverage regional cooperation. At the same time, the untapped diplomatic, economic and civilian potential of Israel-Qatar relations points to the limitations imposed by the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy, Conflict, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Qatar
  • Author: Haim Koren
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Since President Abdel Fatah a-Sisi’s rise to power in 2014, Israeli-Egyptian ties have been marked by defense-strategic cooperation. This is based on the shared perception of Iran and radical Islamist terror organizations as a threat, and the common interest in managing the Palestinian issue, in general, and specifically the Gaza arena. In the inherent tension between ideology and national interests, Egypt continues to strive for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians (Fatah, Hamas and the other Palestinian factions) and seeks to bring about internal Palestinian reconciliation beforehand (between the leaderships in Ramallah and Gaza). Its role as a key mediator between Hamas and Israel is crucial, and is in line with Egypt’s international standing as an important regional leader.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Ronen Zeidel
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The final months of 2019 were marked by widespread, prolonged protests throughout Iraq, which began in October. Baghdad was the focal point of the demonstrations, which were directed at the ruling political elite and the state backing it: Iran. Prime Minister Adil AbdulMahdi resigned at the end of November, throwing official Iraq into a political vacuum and guaranteeing that any premier appointed to replace him would be considered an interim ruler and as such, his government would only be accepted by the weakened political elite, but not by a significant part of the population. This article reviews the changes that occurred in 2019 in the nature of Israel-Iraq cooperation, as they relate to diplomatic, security, economic and civilian aspects.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Civilians
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Einat Levi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article examines the current Israel-Morocco cooperation and its development through 2019. It briefly describes developments in diplomatic, security, economic and civilian arenas in order to find common ground and identify trends. Naturally, the paper will not elaborate much on the security-intelligence aspect of the cooperation, despite its centrality, due to its classified nature.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Yitzhak Gal
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The year 2019 saw additional deterioration in Israel-Jordan relations to the point where ties can be described as “toxic”. Israel’s continued callous disregard of Jordanian sensitivities and interests on policy issues (such as al-Haram a-Sharif/Temple Mount) and economic issues (such as water), was further exacerbated by the particularly volatile issue of the Jordan Valley annexation. Strong security ties continued to provide the basis of the relationship, although they are conducted largely behind the scenes. Economic and civilian cooperation declined, except for the Israeli gas exports to Jordan, which are of strategic importance. Nonetheless, and despite Jordan’s frustration, anger and disappointment with Israel, new content can be infused into the relationship in order to rehabilitate it. Both states have a clear interest in cooperation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Peace, Trade
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on the role of energy in shaping Israel’s policies towards the Mediterranean. It is based on the main points raised at the fourth meeting of the research and policy group on “Israel in the Mediterranean” held in December 2019 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The meeting was held at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. This paper highlights the main repercussions of energy findings on regional cooperation and the opportunities it opens up for Israel. It presents the link between diplomatic and economic considerations, and the emerging energy alternatives that Israel is considering as it formulates and implements policies. The paper does not reflect agreement among all meeting participants.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Economy
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Mediterranean
  • Author: Gabriel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper explores the nexus between Israel’s energy policy and foreign policy interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. While regional energy cooperation has the potential to be one of the most significant and enduring Israeli foreign policy achievements in recent decades, a closer look at regional geopolitics reveals that energy cooperation is often transactional in nature, and rarely transformative. The discovery of offshore hydrocarbons has also aggravated existing tensions between regional actors. This subject deserves more serious discussion by Israeli policymakers and the Israeli public, who often accept the Netanyahu government’s argument that energy exports will provide Israel massive strategic benefits. As this paper argues, in order to chart an optimal course forward, Israelis must first have a realistic conversation about energy’s potential to catalyze changes in the Eastern Mediterranean that serve Israel’s domestic needs and strategic interests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on climate change in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin and the challenges and opportunities which it presents Israel. It is based on the main points raised at the fifth meeting of the research and policy group on “Israel in the Mediterranean” held at the IDC School of Sustainability in Herzliya on February 13, 2020 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 highlights the vulnerability of the Eastern Mediterranean Basin to the climate change crisis, the key challenges it poses to different aspects of life in the region, as well as the opportunities for Israel and for regional cooperation in tackling it. The paper sums up the discussions and presentations at the meeting and does not reflect agreement among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: US President Donald Trump's plan for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, presented in January 2020, was perceived in Jerusalem as a green light to annexation of some 30 percent of the West Bank. It was in accordance with the intentions declared over the past year by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Accordingly, the April 2020 coalition agreement between the Likud and Blue and White political parties included a clause allowing Netanyahu to bring a USapproved annexation plan for government or Knesset approval as of July 1, 2020. 1 Soon after, reactions began pouring in from around the world, including Europe, expressing opposition to annexation and warning Israel against such a move. This paper presents the reactions of the EU, its member states and the UK. It examines them in light of the hurdles to formulating an EU consensus on the issue, and maps them according to the extent of the criticism and the attitudes of the various European states toward the Israeli government’s policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Law, Territorial Disputes, European Union, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Lior Lehrs
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: From the outset of the protest events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and other countries, many people in the world began using the term “Arab spring” to describe the sequence of events in the various locations. The term was based on the term “theSpring of Nations,” that refers to a wave of national revolutions in Europe in the mid-19th century. It seemed to take a little longer for the term to penetrate the Israeli discourse on the subject and even when it did many hesitated to accept it and had reservations about its positive and optimistic connotations. For instance, Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe (Bogie) Yaalon stated that “the event is dramatic and historic and will be given a name, but not the Arab spring.” Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan also opined it was a mistake to use the term “Arab spring” and explained that “whoever coined the phrase drew it from events that occurred in Europe in 1848, when liberal ideas proliferated in the world. The truth is there is no liberal message.” Former head of military intelligence Amos Yadlin said “we understand today that the pair of words ‘Arab spring’ did not describe correctly the phenomenon that rocked the Middle East in 2011.” The Israel Defense Forces’ intelligence branch discussed the issue and decided that the term “Arab spring” was unsuitable and decided to use the term “upheaval” as the official term describing the events.4 Many other people in Israel, as shall be described below, began using the terms “Arab winter” or “Islamic winter” as terms to challenge the original term and express a negative reading of the events. This article wishes to present an analysis of the Israeli discourse following the Arab Spring events as articulated by different parties in diverse forums of conversation. The article analyzes the public and media conversation in Israel and includes an analysis of statements, articles and public opinion surveys and refers to different players (politicians, public figures, journalists and military commanders) and different issues and questions that have arisen as part of the conversation on the subject.
  • Topic: Security, Intelligence, Arab Spring, History , Protests
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Shira Hirsch
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The differentiation policy led by the European Union (EU) distinguishes between the sovereign State of Israel within the 1967 borders and the occupied territories. The BDS Movement calls for what its initials stand for – boycott, sanctions and divestment – to be inflicted upon the whole State of Israel. Although they differ in essence, public discourse in Israel often confuses the two – whether unintentionally, stemming from ignorance, or intentionally because of certain political views. This paper aims to draw a clear distinction between the two policies in order to enable a more nuanced, less impassioned and more conducive dialogue in Israel and with the EU, along with an uncompromising fight against the BDS movement. The EU’s differentiation policy seeks to maintain trade and cooperation with the State of Israel within its 1967 borders, in adherence to international law and Europe’s consumer protection laws – unlike the BDS movement that seeks to boycott and sanction the entire State of Israel. Recognizing the value of EU-Israel relationship, the EU's differentiation policy aims to incentivize Israel to resume negotiations with the Palestinians. The BDS movement, on the other hand, sets goals (such as revoking the right of return and abrogating the Law of Return) that if fully achieved would mean Israel’s end as a Jewish state. The differentiation policy includes an element of normative condemnation but not delegitimization of the State of Israel as a whole, as espoused by the BDS movement. Whereas the differentiation policy implements existing international law, the BDS movement aspires to change the international perception of Israel even within its 1967 borders. Currently, the economic implications of both the differentiation policy and the BDS movement are negligible. However, in the long term, the threat posed by the BDS activities is greater than that of the differentiation policy, since the BDS is not limited to the settlements. The UN recently issued a list of companies operating in the settlements, which could serve in the future to boycott the settlements and damage major companies that play a significant role in Israel’s economy. The EU does not see any connection between its differentiation policy and the BDS movement, to which some European states oppose.
  • Topic: European Union, Economy, Occupation, Borders, BDS
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine