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  • Author: Shmuel Even
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: In March 2018, with the approval of the military censor, Israel officially assumed responsibility for destroying the Syrian nuclear reactor on September 6, 2007, in an operation against what was considered an emerging existential threat. Before the public announcement, senior Israeli officials confirmed that for several years, the IDF has attacked strategic weapons in Syria meant for Hezbollah that were considered as posing an intolerable danger to Israel. These official statements have put an end to Israel’s long-standing policy of ambiguity about a series of aerial strikes on Syrian territory.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Weapons , Hezbollah, Air Force, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Ephraim Asculai, Emily Landau, Daniel Shapiro, Moshe Ya'alon
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Against the backdrop of the visit to Washington by President Macron and the scheduled visit by Chancellor Merkel in an effort to persuade US President Trump not to leave the JCPOA, this article zeros in on the key issues that need to be addressed by the allies. Guided by what is not only necessary but feasible at this late stage, the topics addressed include missiles, inspections, lack of transparency, sanctions, and the sunset provisions. Everything turns on political will – if it exists, agreeing to the proposed steps should not entail a lengthy process, and implementation can realistically begin in relatively short order. Significant results will mean the international community emerges with reinforced solidarity and a strengthened JCPOA. If negotiations progress seriously on this basis, it would make sense for the Trump administration to allow additional time beyond May 12 to complete them.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Author: Shimon Arad
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: In January 2018, the United States and Egypt signed a bilateral communications security agreement known as the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which protects and regulates the use of sensitive American avionics and communications systems. This development now allows, for the first time, the acquisition by Egypt of US-made high precision GPS-based air-to-ground weapon systems and components, as well as advanced air-to-air missiles. Over the years, Israel’s concerns over the sale of large quantities of US weapon systems to Egypt were moderated by the quality cap dictated by the absence of a CISMOA agreement. Israel thus needs to raise this issue with Washington, within the context of the Qualitative Military Edge (QME) discussions. Given the unreliability of enduring stability in the Middle East, as exemplified by the events in Egypt since 2011, Israel should not disregard possible future scenarios in which its QME versus Egypt may matter. Based on the current convergence of security interests between Israel and Egypt, raising this issue with the US, though likely to upset Cairo, is not expected to undermine the practical manifestations of this relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, North America, Egypt
  • Author: Gal Perl Finkel, Gilead Sher
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The Knesset has recently amended the “Basic Law: The Government,” with respect to "authority to declare war or conduct a significant military operation." Under the previous legislation, this authority was given to the government, but the new law grants the authority to the Ministerial Committee for National Security (the Security Cabinet). However, the final version of the new law goes even further, and concludes: "Under extreme circumstances and for reasons that will be noted…the prime minister and the minister of defense are authorized to make the decision in a more restricted legal quorum." Such a law has almost no equivalent in Western democracies. It lacks the checks and balances essential to a democratic regime and is bound to undermine the principle that war is an act requiring maximum domestic and international legitimacy. Yet in view of the new legislation, the Security Cabinet's work should be improved so that it will be fully familiar with the strategic matters on the agenda. In addition, both for the sake of checks and balances and the prevention of an overconcentration of authority in the hands of individuals and so that more than two elected representatives of the people bear responsibility for cardinal policy measure such as war and peace, at least the entire Security Cabinet should participate in the decision. The tactical decisions can and should be made in restricted forums, but it is best for such a momentous decision as a declaration of war to be taken in a broad forum that bears the burden of the responsibility.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Democracy, Conflict, Civil-Military Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ofir Winter, Khander Sawaed
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: As expected, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was reelected Egyptian president in late March 2018, this time, with 97.08 percent of the vote. More than affording an electoral mandate, the recent elections highlighted the incumbent president's challenge of legitimacy, which is reflected in two spheres. The first is the exacerbation of the internal splits within the ruling military establishment. The second is growing alienation between the ruling establishment and the general Egyptian public and civilian elements. The precarious state of the regime's legitimacy is a cause for regional and international concern. It may detract from the regime's ability to carry out the next stages of the economic reform sponsored by the International Monetary Fund, and will complicate efforts to obtain the cooperation in the war against terrorism by the local civilian population in the Sinai Peninsula. In the medium and long terms, the enhanced internal friction in the military and tension between the ruling establishment and civilian forces may jeopardize the country's stability. The legitimacy challenge also affects Egypt's relations with Israel. The regime needs broad public legitimacy in order to incur political risks, such as controversial decisions in favor of bilateral or regional cooperation with Israel. In addition, a regime with unsteady legitimacy might be tempted to adopt a populist anti-Israel line in order to strengthen its public standing. At the same time, the political situation in Egypt also provides an opportunity for increasing bilateral cooperation with Israel in areas contributing to the regime's legitimacy: the economy, security, energy, water, agriculture, and tourism.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Legitimacy, IMF
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Israel, Egypt
  • Author: Eldad Shavit
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: In the May 6, 2018 elections in Lebanon, the Shia bloc led by Hezbollah succeeded in increasing its power in the parliament at the expense of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s party. Nevertheless, due to the country’s electoral system, the political status quo achieved in December 2016 will likely be maintained. The process of forming the government will once again reignite the power battle between Hezbollah and Iran on the one hand and al-Hariri and his supporters in Saudi Arabia and in the international community, mainly France and the United States, on the other hand. The election results will encourage Hezbollah to continue to consolidate its power and its ability to wield influence in the Lebanese political arena. The drive to promote this objective may also act as a restraining factor in the organization’s conduct vis-à-vis Israel. Therefore, at the present time, Hezbollah will presumably opt to continue to use Syria as its preferred theater for action against Israel.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Elections, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: Assaf Orion, Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Despite the two blows Iran sustained last week, Israel cannot afford to be complacent or overly satisfied. It will need to follow meticulously the updated policies adopted by each of the theater’s involved actors. Thus far, Israel has held separate policies regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the Iranian proxy war and malevolent influence. Now, it must develop an integrative long term policy and strive for coordinated efforts and meaningful cooperation with the United States, European countries, and the countries of the region. Operational and strategic coordination with Russia remains essential. Contending with the Iranian nuclear challenge will require the establishment of a joint “strategic early warning enterprise,” with the United States and other allies, aimed at preventing critical surprises.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria, North America
  • Author: Michal Hatuel-Radoshitzky
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: In comparison to previous years, the 2018 Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) was somewhat smaller in scope, and calmer in the level of energies it generated among both protagonists and antagonists. Still, it would be unwise to dismiss the IAW phenomenon as insignificant. In addition to the repercussions of the cumulative effect of efforts to delegitimize Israel in general, and efforts to equate Israel with apartheid during IAW in particular, the growing number of Jewish students who support and even instigate passionate campaigning against Israel is troubling. While the Israeli government's controversial policies vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fuel some of the events, IAW, similar to the BDS campaign, should not be mistaken for a pro-peace, pro-two-state, or pro-dialogue endeavor. Thus, both the State of Israel and Israel supporters should be minded toward engaging in a long term effort; strive to develop quantifying and measurement indices capable of obliterating the "noise" generated by IAW; monitor new trends in the phenomenon; and enable free and secure flow of knowledge between all relevant players in their efforts to counter IAW events. Findings also emphasize the state's important role in working systematically and strategically to bridge between the Jewish communities in Israel and in the Diaspora.
  • Topic: Apartheid, Diaspora, Protests, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Zipi Israeli, Udi Dekel
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The waves of terror in Jerusalem in recent years have disproved two false assumptions that have long guided Israeli governments. The first is that it is possible to maintain the status quo in the city, including on the Temple Mount. The second false assumption is that Jerusalem is a united city. This line of thinking is at odds with the reality in the east of the city, especially the neighborhoods and villages where for 51 years, neglect has reigned supreme and few Israeli Jews ever enter. Even now, Israeli control there is limited, especially in areas on the outer side of the security barrier. A clear majority of Israelis agree that today, in practice, Jerusalem is divided into a Jewish city and an Arab city. Consequently, a string of urgent actions is needed, first and foremost improvements to municipal services, infrastructures, and quality of life in East Jerusalem, as well as incentives to involve the Arab population in the Jerusalem municipal authority. Most of the Israeli Jewish public feels that the current reality in Jerusalem is highly problematic and difficult to sustain forever. Therefore, at present there is growing openness to new and creative ideas, and the steps proposed to improve living conditions support a range of future options for East Jerusalem.
  • Topic: Public Opinion, Refugee Crisis, Borders, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Amos Yadlin, Gilead Sher
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The perspective of twelve years since Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank confirms that this significant political and security-related event was a correct strategic decision. Regarding the West Bank, it appears that unilateral disengagement as a stand-alone event will not repeat itself. However, a political and security independent process with similar attributes could enable Israel to continue striving for a reality of two states for two peoples, based on a gradual, secure, and responsible end to Israel’s control over the Palestinian people. Efforts should be made to reach agreement with the Palestinians regarding interim measures throughout transitional stages. However, if it becomes clear that an agreement cannot be reached, measures should be implemented independently (regardless of Palestinian consent) aimed at improving Israel’s situation without impairing its security. These measures will need to be carried out in close coordination with the United States and in accordance with US-Israel understandings.
  • Topic: Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel, Gaza