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  • Author: Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: After a year in which Iran opted for "strategic patience," in the hope that European nations would compensate for the United States sanctions, it now seeks to present a price tag for the US measures against it, and has thus embarked on a response comprising action in three realms: nuclear, military, and oil exports from the Gulf. In the current circumstances, Iran and the United States are demanding conditions that would make a resumption of negotiations difficult, although both sides apparently understand that dialogue may ultimately be the less dangerous option for them. The latest developments embody the potential for escalation and miscalculation that is liable to affect Israel's security, and therefore the security cabinet should convene to craft an appropriate policy for the near, medium, and long terms.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Oil, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, North America
  • Author: Pnina Sharvit Baruch
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Amid the coalition negotiations underway in Israel there is a heated debate over various proposals regarding significant changes to the legal oversight of governmental and parliamentary work. Remarkable throughout the debate of these proposals is the lack of regard to their impact on the preservation and promotion of the character of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and instead, there is a worrisome focus on political and personal motives. Against this background, it is possible to propose several recommendations. First, in the current debate, the Court is accused of "stealing democracy" and of being a political institution with a blatantly left wing agenda. This incorrect premise, which undermines the ability to conduct a public debate in constructive fashion and erodes the legitimacy of the Court and the public's faith in the Court, must be reversed. Second, there is room for discussion on appropriate constitutional changes. Democratic countries around the world have differing successful constitutional structures, and there is no "one right answer." Yet any future change must be carried out through a focused discussion that incorporates all relevant parties, including politicians, judges, and academics with expertise in the field. Finally, whatever the eventual constitutional changes, they must not undermine the basic principles of the separation of powers, the rule of law, and the power of the Court to practice effective oversight of the government. These are essential building blocks for proper democratic rule.
  • Topic: Governance, Democracy, Constitution, Secularism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Itai Brun, Tehilla Shwartz Altschuler
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: On April 18, 2019, the US Department of Justice released a redacted version of the full report (448 pages) submitted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller about Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. The report consists of two parts: the first presents the outcome of the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election and draws conclusions regarding the presence or absence of a conspiracy or illegal coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign; the second part deals with President Trump’s possible obstruction of justice regarding the FBI investigation into the Russian intervention and the investigation by the Special Counsel himself. This essay deals with the first part, i.e., the results of the investigation into the connection between the Russians and Trump for the purpose of influencing the election results. The report reflects accurately the US criminal law that deals with conspiracy and illegal coordination regarding elections. At the same time, it exposes a gap in the nation’s conceptual, organizational, legal, and technological preparedness to confront the possibilities that the digital space provides to undermine – internally and externally – the democratic process. Israel suffers from the same gap, and it is therefore imperative that the state confront it before the next Knesset election.
  • Topic: Crime, Elections, Election Interference , Investigations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, North America
  • Author: Oden Eran
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: In the first years after the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the common assessment was that the Hashemite Kingdom was able to cope with the challenges it confronted, despite the various internal and external political pressures, including the demographic pressure created by the wave of refugees from Syria. However, cracks in this image of stability have begun to emerge, and there are increasing indications that the developments in the country could lead to a serious undermining of the regime, with long term strategic ramifications. The destabilization process could, for example, be sparked by protracted mass demonstrations, some of them violent, a loss of control over the situation by security forces, and a loss of the palace's control over parliamentary decisions.
  • Topic: Popular Revolt, Political stability, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Orna Mizrahi, Yoram Schweitzer
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Voices in the Arab media have recently suggested that war between Israel and Hezbollah may erupt this coming summer. This debate began even before the rise in tension between the United States and Iran in the Gulf, which once again brought to the fore the possibility of Iran using Hezbollah as a proxy against Israel. In recent speeches, however, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah acted quickly to calm the waters, while delivering messages designed to deter Israel from taking measures against Hezbollah. Nasrallah asserted that Hezbollah was capable of striking strategic sites on the Israeli home front and conquering parts of the Galilee. These statements indicate that as far as Hezbollah is concerned, the current circumstances are not convenient for a conflict with Israel, due to Hezbollah's continuing involvement in the war in Syria and a wish to avoid undermining Hezbollah's recent achievements in the Lebanese political system. Also important is Hezbollah's deepening economic plight, resulting in part from American sanctions against the organization and its patron, Iran, although these economic difficulties have not yet affected Hezbollah's continued investment in its military buildup and deployment for a future war with Israel. Nevertheless, even if Hezbollah has no interest in a large scale conflict with Israel at this time, escalation as a result of particular measures by Israel in Lebanon and the organization's response, or from Hezbollah's own actions against Israel aimed at serving Iranian interests, cannot be ruled out. Israel must therefore prepare in advance for the possibility of a military campaign in the north.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Hezbollah, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The decision to attack a nuclear reactor in enemy territory is one of the most difficult decisions that an Israeli leader may face. Prime Minister Menahem Begin drafted the unofficial doctrine that is named for him, “the Begin Doctrine,” seeking to prevent countries hostile to Israel calling for its destruction from developing a nuclear military capability.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Shmuel Even
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: According to the state budget for 2019, approved by the Knesset on March 15, 2018, the Defense Ministry budget will stand at NIS 72.9 billion gross and NIS 55.3 billion net (11.5 percent of the state budget). The Defense Ministry’s budget for 2019 represents the fourth year in the IDF’s five-year plan (the Gideon Plan for 2016-2020), during which it must start to formulate a new five-year plan
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Oden Eran, Elai Rettig
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Presumably the government of Israel played an important role in securing the $15 billion natural gas deal signed recently between the owners of Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan fields and the Egyptian Dolphinus Holding. For his part, Egypt’s President el-Sisi stated that with this deal Egypt has gained a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean, positioned itself as a regional energy center
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Following the "March of Return" events led by Hamas on two turbulent Fridays at the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, both sides declared victory. And in the case of such a blatantly asymmetric conflict between parties with opposing aims, both sides can indeed claim victory, precisely because they are conducting parallel maneuvers. Israel operates largely on a physical dimension (protecting its sovereign territory), while Hamas works mainly on the cognitive-political level. In a world of images, intensive information campaigns, and mass media (including fake news), a sense of victory on both sides could intensify the hostilities on the Gaza border and perhaps even beyond in the coming weeks. Israel must stress that it is defending a recognized international border; clarify the legality and proportionality of its use of live fire; expand its visual documentation of the events; update Arab countries about the facts and balance the pro-Hamas messages delivered in the Arab media; and prepare for an escalation of the conflict. Finally, while focused on the immediate challenge of mass demonstrations on the Gaza border, Israel must continue to address the underlying issue: the growing distress in Gaza and the collapse of its infrastructures will make it hard for Israel to continue managing the situation with relatively low political, military, and financial costs. Mid-May will be followed by the month of Ramadan and another scorching summer. Temporary success in containing the new challenge posed by Hamas will not defuse the social-economic-military time bomb ticking in the Strip.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Infrastructure, Conflict, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Yohanan Tzoreff
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The "March of Return" events have brought out the masses. It seems that since the first intifada the Palestinian arena has not witnessed such widespread mass participation as evident in the recent protests along the Gaza Strip border. At the same time, it is doubtful whether the crowds can deliver the same achievements they furnished in the first intifada. This is due to public suspicions regarding the intentions of both Fatah and Hamas, the absence of international and Arab support so far, and the deterrent element of Israel's response. A new chapter appears to have opened in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, in which the Palestinian public is asked to decide which of the two paths proposed by the respective leaderships – in Ramallah and in Gaza – should be adopted. In the background are the echoes of failure of both paths – the path of negotiation and security coordination led by the Palestinian Authority, and the path of armed opposition led by Hamas. The main test now is for Hamas, as the ruler of the Strip. Will it succeed by means of the "March of Return," which it is leading but did not initiate, to extend the common denominator between the rival Palestinian camps, to heighten the motivation to maintain the tension along the border, until the planned climax on May 15? Or will it be satisfied with the attempt to place the blame for the failure of internal Palestinian reconciliation and the weakening internal reality on the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah? Time will tell.
  • Topic: Refugees, Conflict, Hamas, Palestinian Authority
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza