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  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper presents insights and recommendations from a policy workshop of the “Israel in the Mediterranean” group led by the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The workshop, convened on 19 November 2020, focused on key diplomatic, economic, energetic, environmental and identity issues that Israel faces in the Mediterranean. The document does not necessarily reflect agreement by all participants.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Environment, Economy, Regional Integration, Identity
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document presents recommendations for initial policy steps that the Biden Administration can take to advance Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. It describes the current state of play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Biden takes office, identifies nine key goals for the new administration in advancing peacemaking, and outlines concrete policy steps for their implementation. These are the goals outlined in the document: (1) Highlighting the importance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; (2) Renewing ties and building trust with the Palestinian leadership; (3) Emphasizing US commitment to the two-state solution and formulating parameters for a final-status agreement; (4) Preserving the feasibility of the two-state solution and drawing red lines; (5) Leading multilateral steps, such as creating a new international mechanism and an incentives package; (6) Leveraging Israeli-Arab normalization to advance the peace process; (7) Improving the situation in Gaza and ending the internal Palestinian divide; (8) Empowering pro-peace Israeli and Palestinian actors, including in civil society; (9) Setting a constructive tone to relations with the Israeli leadership and public.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Kamal Ali-Hassan, Ehud Eiran, Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan, Roee Kibrik, Lior Lehrs, Gabriel Mitchell, Elie Podeh, Ksenia Svetlova, Nadav Tamir, Yonatan Touval
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This document summarizes recommendations for initial policy steps that the Biden Administration could take to advance Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. It identifies nine key goals for the new administration and outlines concrete policy steps for their implementation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • 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: Lior Lehrs, Moien Odeh, Nimrod Goren, Huda Abu Arqoub
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: peace processes and have the potential to contribute to the advancement of Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution. A team of Israeli and Palestinian policy experts developed a joint proposal for an international package of incentives for peace. The proposal defines the central needs of the parties that the incentives package must address, focusing on security, recognition and legitimacy, religious rights, economic prosperity and domestic needs. It examines which international actors can be relevant in addressing those needs and should be part of an international incentives package, elaborating on the potential role of the US, the EU, and the Arab and the Muslim world. The proposal also discusses when and how a package of incentives should be introduced and delivered, and what should be the international mechanism required to promote it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, European Union, Peace, Incentives
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • 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: Einat Levi, Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: By dint of its position in the Arab and Muslim arena, Morocco is strongly committed to the Palestinian issue and the safeguarding of Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites. Throughout its history, Morocco has served at times as a mediator between Israel and the Arab world and mobilized to help Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking within the framework of the Oslo process. Morocco has adopted a largely neutral foreign policy as a state seeking stability in the Middle East and North Africa and willing to help mediate regional conflicts. These efforts are notable in both the Palestinian arena and in the broader Middle Eastern and North African one. Israel takes a positive view of ties with Morocco, backed by the support of the large Moroccan Jewish diaspora living in Israel. Palestinian views of Morocco’s policy are mixed. Along with a positive perception based on recognition of Morocco’s commitment to the Palestinian issue, measured criticism is also being heard over its decision to advance normalization with Israel. Attitudes toward the normalization process are complex, including both criticism and support for the move. Morocco cannot set in motion and orchestrate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but it can help by providing conciliation and mediation and broad legitimacy for a consensual arrangement on Jerusalem’s holy sites.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Negotiation, Peace, Normalization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Morocco
  • Author: Lior Lehrs, Nimrod Goren, Ido Zelkovitz, Nadav Tamir, Merav Kahana-Dagan
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The latest events in Jerusalem – at Muslim holy sites, the Damascus Gate and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood – have brought tensions in the city to new heights and affect Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians and Arab states. This document compiles initial commentaries by Mitvim Institute experts. Dr. Lior Lehrs explains that restoring calm in Jerusalem requires dealing with structural problems and foresees a role for President Biden in such a process; Former MK Ksenia Svetlova argues that the violence stems from government neglect and could exacerbate tensions with Jordan; Dr. Nimrod Goren argues that the escalation in Jerusalem should convince the political left to demand diplomatic portfolios in the emerging government; Dr. Ido Zelkovitz believes that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are supporting the Jerusalem protests and that Hamas hopes to emerge from them with the upper hand; Former diplomat Nadav Tamir points to violations of human rights and the status quo as the cause of the current round of violence.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, Displacement, Violence, Hamas, PLO
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, Arab Countries
  • Author: Katie Wachsberger
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Israeli-Emirati economic ties have been developing continuously since the 1990s, setting the stage for the recent Abraham Accords and the partnerships that have begun to flourish as a result. Since the signing of the Accords and the abolishment of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) boycott laws against Israel, many opportunities have presented themselves for both countries to benefit from the new trade partnership, in realms such as investment, tourism, real estate, and education. However, there are many cultural, structural, and political challenges that remain. This paper delineates the economic relationship as it existed before the signing of the Accords in terms of private sector security collaboration, technological partnerships, and the export of various goods, noting the opportunities that present themselves with the establishment of direct and legal ties. It then explores the various obstacles that have proven themselves problematic thus far, and goes on to investigate challenges that Israeli businesses will face when attempting to scale regionally, especially in light of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Trade, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, UAE
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Israel’s Relations with Arab Countries: The Unfulfilled Potential examines relations between Israel and seven key Arab states – Egypt. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Morocco and Iraq – against the backdrop of the changes sweeping the Middle East over the past decade. The researchers mapped out the potential for cooperation with each state based on shared interests, challenges and opportunities, and on the abilities, strengths and needs of Israel and those states. The researchers described existing diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation – relying on open source material, their expertise in the arena and interviews they conducted. The studies found that despite progress in cooperation between Israel and Arab countries, and notwithstanding certain growing normalization with specific Middle Eastern countries, the strategic-diplomatic, economic, social, civilian and cultural opportunities are significant and far greater than their current level. There is wide-ranging, unfulfilled potential in Israel’s relations with Arab countries, and it is more evident now than it was in the past. The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and absence of significant progress in resolving it constitute the main obstacle to tapping the potential for cooperation between Israel and the Arab world, capping relations with a glass ceiling. In formulating its policy and actions in the region, Israel should learn the lessons of the past. It must take into consideration current realities and limitations, existing interests and processes. Just as important, it must also shape its actions, assessing and choosing from among various alternatives with a view to the future potential and tremendous promise they hold out. We hope this publication helps those interested in sketching the current complex picture and the potential that lies in relations between Israel and major Arab countries, and paves the way to expanded cooperation and normalization between Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East. As the studies in this publication indicate, the potential for regional cooperation is great and its realization also depends on progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, UAE
  • Author: Gabriel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Contemporary analysis of Eastern Mediterranean geopolitics tends to focus on the discovery of offshore hydrocarbons, and how a desire to maximize commercial profits has spurred a realignment of regional interests. There is similar emphasis on how this realignment pushed some Eastern Mediterranean states into conflict with one another over maritime boundaries and drilling rights. But while natural gas pipelines may dominate political and analytical discourse, there are other infrastructure projects that deserve attention and shed further light on the region’s evolution and Israel’s role in this transitionary period. One example to support this claim is the EuroAsia Interconnector, an ambitious infrastructure project that intends to connect the European electrical grid via undersea cable from Greece to Cyprus, and Israel. Few in Israel are familiar with the interconnector. Unlike the much-publicized EastMed pipeline, the interconnector garners little attention. Ironically, there is a greater chance that the interconnector – whose cable would run along a similar route as the EastMed pipeline – will successfully link Israel and Europe in the Eastern Mediterranean, and not the more recognizable natural gas project.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Gas
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In the few months that have passed since the signing of the historical Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE have opened embassies and exchanged ambassadors, launched direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, hosted dozens of businesses, cultural and academic delegations (among them a high-ranking Emirati delegation led by the UAE ministers of finance and economy), and facilitated visits of thousands of Israeli tourists to Dubai. Universities and think tanks from both countries have established connections, and news outlets have launched different forms of cooperation. Israel, the UAE, and the US set an investment fund worth 3 billion USD (the fund is not operational yet) and banks on both sides established agreements on financial services. The scope of activity between the two countries is impressive, and it seems that in case of Israel and the UAE, the seeds of peace have fallen on fertile ground, mainly due to high level of economic development and mutual geopolitical interests and concerns, such as the Iranian threat (although both sides evaluate and treat it differently).Today, it is almost impossible to imagine that just a few years ago Israeli athletes were only allowed to compete in the UAE if they agreed to participate without their national flag or national anthem sung at the closing ceremony. Why is it that the peace between Israel and the UAE appears to be such a stark contrast from previous peace agreements that Israel has signed with other Arab countries? Several factors have facilitated the newly established relationship: the positive image of the UAE in Israel; the lack of past hostilities, casualties, and territorial demands between the two countries; the unofficial ties forged long before the official recognition; the many mutual interests that seem to be aligned together; and the right timing that allowed for this bold and important development. Will the parties be able to maintain a similar level of enthusiasm also when the honeymoon stage passes? How will the two countries deal with various regional and international challenges? This paper presents an Israeli perspective on the first months of the relationship between Israel and UAE, and looks at prospects for the near future of these relations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Economy, Peace, Abraham Accords
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, UAE
  • Author: Nimrod Goren, Nickolay Mladenov, Nathalie Tocci, Hesham Youssef, Merav Kahana-Dagan
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Can Multilateralism Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace? Mitvim's J Street Panel, April 2021; Speakers: Amb. (ret.) Hesham Youssef Senior Fellow, United States Institute of Peace; Former diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 'Egypt, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Arab League; H.E. Nickolay Mladenov Former UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process; Former Bulgaria's Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Nathalie Tocci Director, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI, Italy); Special Advisor to EU High Representative and Vice President of the Commission Josep Borrell; Dr. Nimrod Goren Founder and Head, Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies; Teaching Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Moderator: Merav Kahana-Dagan, Deputy Head, Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Multilateralism, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Micky Drill, Nimrod Goren, Dan Catarivas, Michele Merloni, Luigi Scazzieri, Noa Ginosar, Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: An online conference of the Mitvim Institute, the Israeli Association for the Study of European Integration, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel, and the Israel-European Union Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Partnerships, Regional Integration, Industry
  • 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