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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Author: David Walzer
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Israel and the European Union (EU) have built a special, strategic relationship over decades, since the 1960s. Following centuries of war, two world wars, tens of millions dead and destruction across the continent, the EU can be declared as the most successful expression of Europeans’ aspiration for peace and prosperity. With a population of 450 million, the EU is not only Israel’s biggest trade partner, it is also the biggest and most generous aid donor to the Palestinian Authority (PA), without which Israel would be forced to allocate extensive budgetary resources for the PA’s preservation and its commitments. Moreover, a large part of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora has its roots in Europe. Many Israelis aspire to the continent’s standards of moral and cultural values and to its political systems. At the same time, many in Europe see Israel and the Israelis as members of the European family. Agreements on economic, trade, science, and other matters of vital value to Israel have been signed over the years within the framework of the special relationship that has developed with the EU.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, European Union, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan, Roee Kibrik, Lior Lehrs, Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: srael’s new foreign minister should lead a process of fixing Israel’s foreign policy. This paper presents recommendations for messages he can convey and actions he can take to improve Israel’s regional relations with Arab states, the Palestinians and Europe. It is based on deliberations by a Mitvim Institute task team.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Regional Integration, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Egypt, Jordan
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on the impact of the coronavirus on Israel’s relations with the Mediterranean Basin. It is based on the main points raised at the sixth meeting of the research and policy group on “Israel in the Mediterranean” held on May 14, 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 key insights emerging from the Eastern Mediterranean’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic, including the importance of regional cooperation for Israel’s national resilience, the strengthening of Israel’s alliance with Greece and Cyprus, the economic importance of the Mediterranean for Israel, the energy crisis and its impact, and Israel’s ties with Arab states. The paper does not reflect agreement among all the meeting participants.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Economy, Coronavirus, Pandemic, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The EU is examining how to respond to a possible Israeli annexation in the West Bank. One of the measures reportedly under consideration is to limit Israel’s participation in the EU’s “Horizon” research and development (R&D) program scheduled for renewal in 2021. This might be a significant blow to Israeli R&D, which has enjoyed substantial EU grants in recent years through the previous phase of the “Horizon” program. This paper provides background about the “Horizon” program and its importance for Israel.
  • Topic: Development, European Union, Research, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • 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
  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The second wave of the coronavirus sweeping Israel has overtaken the annexation issue in the headlines and relegated it to the margins of the public agenda. However, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers have rarely mentioned the annexation since July 1, and have abandoned public activity related to the issue, the world keeps discussing the inherent dangers of such a move. Warnings against the hasty move that could have crucial repercussions for regional processes continue to be heard, especially in Europe and the Hashemite Kingdom. King Abdullah recently declared that his country would reject any kind of territorial annexation, big or small, warning that “annexation would undermine prospects of achieving peace”. His restrained diplomatic language reflects a real fear that prompted by political considerations of one kind or another, the annexation issue will soon be restored to the table and the headlines. In July 2020, Mitvim Institute experts conducted a policy dialogue with several leading Jordanian figures from the diplomatic, political, academic and military fields, in order to understand the thinking in Amman about annexation and what Jordan fears in that sense. This document sums up key insights from the dialogue.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Annexation, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Galia Press-Barnathan
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The Trump Peace Plan follows a familiar American pattern of using economic tools to promote regional peace in the Middle East. This paper puts the recent plan in its appropriate context. More specifically, earlier American strategies of economic peacemaking built on three intellectual approaches: The notion of “commercial peace”, which promises peace by way of economic interdependence; the notion of “capitalist peace”, which focuses on the central and primary role of building market economies within individual states in the region; and the notion of “economic statecraft”, which focuses on the direct use of economic carrots and sticks to push regional actors to make certain policy concessions. The paper explores how these policies have played out over time in US policy in the Middle East, and points to the limits of using economic statecraft to coerce actors into peace.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economy, Regional Integration, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Gabriel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Established in January 2019, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) is the most significant multinational organization in a geopolitical space often associated with conflict and competition. Currently comprised of Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Greece, Italy and the Palestinian Authority, the forum’s purpose to advance opportunities for energy development and cooperation between Eastern Mediterranean states in order to maximize the commercial potential of the region’s hydrocarbon reserves. This paper analyzes the diplomatic processes that resulted in the EMGF’s formation, the current challenges the forum faces, and Israel’s capacity to shape this nascent body’s future. If the forum hopes to grow in the postcoronavirus era, then it must commit to seeking pathways towards economic cooperation, enhancing its scope to include renewable energy, while also prioritizing conflict resolution and the establishment of a new maritime order.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Energy Policy, Geopolitics, Gas, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Italy, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article reviews the changed attitudes of Arab states (especially the “core” states of the Middle East) toward the Jews from the turn of the millennium to the present. It places these changes in a broad diplomatic context, which also relates to improved ties between Israel and Middle Eastern states and these states’ strengthening alliance with the US. The article presents the difficulties of Arab regimes and societies in differentiating between Jews and Israel, briefly describes widespread manifestations of anti-Semitism in the second half of the 20th century in Arab culture and media, and reviews the changing geopolitics and awareness in Arab states that have affected the development of interfaith discourse between Jews and Muslims. The article argues that a significant turnaround has occurred over the past two decades in the attitude of Arab regimes toward the Jews by virtue of the geopolitical changes in the Middle East and a desire to project enlightenment and modernity to the West. The resulting increased Jewish-Muslim dialogue could imbue future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with an added dimension and contribute to their success.
  • Topic: Demographics, Religion, Ethnicity, Judaism, History
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Thair Abu Ras
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper provides an historic overview of Israel's relationship with the Arab world followed by an in-depth review of cooperation between Arab states and Israel on solving and managing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian issue served to enable and limit relations between Israel and Arab states along the years. Reviving Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and improving the status of the Palestinians have been the central tenants of cooperation between Israel and Arab states. The Palestinian issue serves as a legitimizing factor for Israeli-Arab cooperation, and the occupation remains an obstacle to accomplishing regional stability. The Abraham Accords may intensify Israeli-Arab cooperation on the Palestinian issue, thus making the quest for a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian issue more central to Israel's regional foreign policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Conflict, Regional Integration, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova, Mor Yahalom
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Cooperation can yield stability, continued development and strengthened ties between states. Broad, fruitful Israeli cooperation with Arab states will open many economic, security, intelligence, energy, tourism, and medical opportunities, with the potential for more to come. Therefore, this goal must be identified and pursued. This paper is intended to enrich the theoretical and practical knowledge of Israel’s regional cooperation and provide background for understanding and assessing the variety of existing practices that Israel employs, on the governmental level, to advance regional cooperation and implement it. The paper details the various Israeli ministries and agencies tasked with managing and developing cooperation with Arab states, the division of responsibility among them and the practices they employ. It also identifies current opportunities and characterizes the challenges hampering and delaying potential cooperation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Einat Levi
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Civilian cooperation between Israel and Arab states takes place on various levels and in different fields despite the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict that often prevents and always challenges the establishment of full, normal relations between the citizens of Israel and the region. This paper is intended to serve anyone seeking to promote Israel-Arab normalization, peace and cooperation, by spotlighting the wide array of existing civilian relations and trying to learn from experience for the sake of expanding future cooperation. Learning from experience is important both in order to efficiently and effectively advance regional cooperation toward peace, and also to advance existing cooperation, especially given its potential for offering better conditions for a political-diplomatic process. The potential for regional cooperation does not rely only on formal diplomatic, security and economic agreements between states, but also on ties between civilians. That is especially true for the desire to advance normalization as reflected in relations on the civil society level and the public legitimization of relations in a wide variety of fields. This paper analyzes civilian cooperation practices between Israelis and residents of states in the Middle East and North Africa, in the environment, sports, tourism, science, religion and heritage, culture and humanitarian aid.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Elie Podeh, Moran Zaga, Ksenia Svetlova, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Mitvim Institute experts, Prof. Elie Podeh, Dr. Moran Zaga, Former MK Ksenia Svetlova, and Dr. Nimrod Goren, share analysis on why the diplomatic breakthrough between Israel and the UAE happened, and what are its implications for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and for Israel's relations in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace, Normalization
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, UAE
  • Author: Gabriel Mitchell, Nimrod Goren
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Presentation by Gabriel Mitchell and Dr. Nimrod Goren of the Mitvim Institute's 8th annual public opinion poll on Israeli foreign policy, carried out in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Merav Kahana-Dagan, Paul Pasch
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The 4th Annual Conference of the Mitvim Institute on Israel's regional foreign policies, Held in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 28 October 2020 Opening Remarks Merav Kahana-Dagan, Deputy Head of the Mitvim Institute Dr. Paul Pasch, Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Israel
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict, Conference
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Elie Podeh, Moran Zaga, Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Gabriel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The 4th Annual Conference of the Mitvim Institute on Israel's regional foreign policies, Held in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 28 October 2020. Israel’s Relations with the Middle East, Europe and the Mediterranean: Dr. Roee Kibrik, Director of Research at the Mitvim Institute; Prof. Elie Podeh, Board Member at the Mitvim Institute; Dr. Moran Zaga, Policy Fellow at the Mitvim Institute; Dr. Maya Sion Tzidkiyahu, Director of the Program on Israel-Europe Relations at the Mitvim Institute; Gabriel Mitchell, Director of External Relations at the Mitvim Institute.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: Nimrod Goren, Haim Regev, Haim Regev, Ksenia Svetlova, Ehud Eiran, Yael Ravia Zadok
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The 4th Annual Conference of the Mitvim Institute on Israel's regional foreign policies, Held in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 28 October 2020. Israeli Diplomacy in Muslim and Arab States Dr. Nimrod Goren, Head of the Mitvim Institute; Haim Regev, Deputy Director General for Middle East, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Former MK Ksenia Svetlova, Director of the Program on Israel-Middle East Relations at the Mitvim Institute; Dr. Ehud Eiran, Board Member at the Mitvim Institute; Yael Ravia Zadok, Deputy Director General and Head of the Economic Diplomacy Division, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries