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  • Author: Weeam Hammoudeh, Samah Jabr, Maria Helbich, Cindy Sousa
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the devastating and disproportionate effects of structures of violence that produce vulnerability in communities of color globally, including with respect to mental health-care provision. While coping and resilience are dominant mainstream frameworks to understand mental health in crisis—both in Palestine and elsewhere—the three contributors to this roundtable were asked to offer a rejoinder to that approach. They reflect on the pandemic as an opportunity to revisit how we understand and advocate for critical approaches to mental health in Palestine in the midst of prolonged crisis.
  • Topic: Mental Health, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: José S. Vericat
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: Fatah leaders routinely accuse Hamas of plotting to establish an “emirate” in the Gaza Strip. Gaza is in fact turning into a statelet separate from the West Bank, but it is Israeli policies that are driving the “Gaza is Palestine” option with a series of measures that have been implemented since the early 1990s to sever Gaza from the West Bank. This development has intensified under the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump. In the White House’s vision for Middle East peace, which turns the West Bank into a series of isolated Bantustans enveloped by Israeli territory and shorn of Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip becomes the centerpiece of any future Palestinian entity. The international community, laser focused on avoiding another war in Gaza, has prioritized the humanitarian over the political crisis, furthering the excision of the Palestinian territory. As aid flows directly into Gaza, bypassing Ramallah, and Israel and Hamas negotiate a long-term ceasefire, the Palestinian Authority (PA) finds itself increasingly marginalized.
  • Topic: Territorial Disputes, State, Settlements, Palestinian Authority
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Sadiq Saffarini
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The article analyzes President Trump’s vision for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, the so-called Deal of the Century announced on January 28. While the proposal uses the language of hope and prosperity and expresses support for the two-state solution, its provisions actually render the Palestinian “state” inviable. The plan does not empower the Palestinian state with full sovereignty over its territory nor does it recognize its internationally accepted borders, while at the same time nullifying the Palestinian right of return. In short, the plan seeks to legalize and legitimize the status quo by enabling Israeli expansionism and the systemic denial of Palestinian rights, which is a flagrant violation of international law and has no legal validity.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Sovereignty, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes, Peace, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ehud Eiran
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Israel is still holding to its traditional security maxim. Based on a perception of a hostile region, Israel’s response includes early warning, deterrence and swift – including pre-emptive – military action, coupled with an alliance with a global power, the US. Israel is adjusting these maxims to a changing reality. Overlapping interests – and perhaps the prospect of an even more open conflict with Iran – led to limited relationships between Israel and some Gulf states. These, however, will be constrained until Israel makes progress on the Palestine issue. Israel aligned with Greece and Cyprus around energy and security, which may lead to conflict with Turkey. Russia’s deployment in Syria placed new constraints on Israeli freedom of action there. The US’s retrenchment from the Middle East is not having a direct effect on Israel, while the Trump administration’s support for Israel’s territorial designs in the West Bank may make it easier for Israel to permanently expand there, thus sowing the seeds for future instability in Israel/Palestine. The EU could try and balance against such developments, but, as seen from Israel, is too divided to have a significant impact. Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, April 2020.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Gas, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Yara Hawari
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As of early September 2020 more than 27 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded worldwide, along with approximately 890,000 deaths. After many months of lockdown, countries are having to re-open despite growing infection rates and fears of a second wave while people adapt to a “new normal” which includes restrictions, social distancing and limited travel. At the start of the lockdowns, many Palestinians commented that the world now finally understood what life was like for them. Particularly in the West Bank and Gaza, the curfews, the closure of public spaces, the inability or difficulty to travel, lingering anxiety and perpetual uncertainty are features common to Palestinian life. However, this new global reality reflects only a fraction of the Palestinian experience of suffering from nearly a century of ongoing settler colonialism.
  • Topic: Health, Settler Colonialism, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ekaterina Stepanova
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As Russia has become a major external player in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region due to its military engagement in Syria since 2015, it has acted as a balancer and mediator in several regional controversies and has continued to serve as a security guarantor for the Syrian state. This course has brought Moscow some practical dividends, such as growing economic and military-technical cooperation with select MENA countries, and has spurred its broader international profile. However, entering the 2020s, the risks of more active engagement in the Middle East have also mounted, making Russia’s balancing act more difficult. In three cases where Russia’s involvement has been visible (Syria, Libya and the Israeli-Palestinian problem), evolving developments challenge Moscow’s acquired influence and multi-vector approach, but also create new opportunities for its engagement and mediation. Above all, the 2020 US–Iran crisis catalysed the urgent need for structured regional dialogue, especially across the Persian Gulf. While this requires direct interaction between the region’s main antagonists, the initial impulse to unlock the trans-Gulf impasse might need to come from the outside. A process-oriented blueprint for inclusive multilateral security in the Gulf proposed by Russia in 2019 is a step in the right direction, but to be activated it may need to come as part of some broader international initiative.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Israel, Libya, Palestine, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: David Makovksy
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Benny Gantz’s party lost the head-to-head battle, Avigdor Liberman’s favorable influence on the coalition math has left the general in a stronger position—and taken some diplomatic weight off the Trump administration’s shoulders. Israel’s third round of elections last week seemed inconclusive at first, but the deadlock may now be broken. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did better this time than in September’s round two, but his gains were insufficient to form a new government. Potential kingmaker Avigdor Liberman jettisoned his previous idea of getting the two top parties to join forces; instead, personal antipathy and policy differences have led him to definitely state that he will not join any government Netanyahu leads. Thus, while centrist Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz may have options to shape a new government, Netanyahu has no pathway on his own. In theory, the center-left bloc has the requisite number of seats for a bare majority in the 120-member Knesset, since anti-Netanyahu forces won 62 seats. In reality, the situation is more complex.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If the latest U.S. effort winds up backing the Palestinians into a territorial corner from the outset, then Washington may not be able to move the process any closer to direct negotiations. The newly released U.S. peace plan marks a very significant shift in favor of the current Israeli government’s view, especially when compared to three past U.S. initiatives: (1) the Clinton Parameters of December 2000, (2) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s “Annapolis Process” of 2007-2008, and (3) Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2013-2014 initiative. The message is clear: the Trump administration will no longer keep sweetening the deal with every Palestinian refusal, a criticism some have aimed at previous U.S. efforts. Yet the new plan raises worrisome questions of its own. Will its provisions prove so disadvantageous to the proposed Palestinian state that they cannot serve as the basis for further negotiations? And would such overreach enable Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to sway Arab states who have signaled that they want to give the proposal a chance, convincing them to oppose it instead? If so, the plan may wind up perpetuating the current diplomatic impasse and setting the stage for a one-state reality that runs counter to Israel’s identity as a Jewish, democratic state. This two-part PolicyWatch will address these questions by examining how the Trump plan compares to past U.S. initiatives when it comes to the conflict’s five core final-status issues. Part 1 focuses on two of these issues: borders and Jerusalem. Part 2 examines security, refugees, and narrative issues.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Borders, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ghaith al-Omari
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By granting Israel much more say over the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state and its ability to absorb refugees, the document may undermine the administration’s ability to build an international coalition behind its policies. President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan was presented as a departure from previous approaches—a notion that invited praise from its supporters (who saw it as a recognition of reality) and criticism from its opponents (who saw it as an abandonment of valued principles). The plan does in fact diverge from past efforts in fundamental respects, yet there are also some areas of continuity, and ultimately, the extent to which it gains traction will be subject to many different political and diplomatic variables. Even so, the initial substance of the plan document itself will play a large part in determining how it is viewed by various stakeholders, especially those passages that veer away from the traditional path on core issues. Part 1 of this PolicyWatch assessed what the plan says about two such issues: borders and Jerusalem. This second installment discusses security, refugee, and narrative issues.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Refugees, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A host of crucial multilateral interests are baked into the U.S. presence, from keeping the Islamic State down, to protecting vulnerable regional allies, to preventing Iran from taking Iraq's oil revenues. The assassination of Qasem Soleimani has brought the tensions in U.S.-Iraqi relations to a boil, with militia factions strong-arming a parliamentary resolution on American troop withdrawal and various European allies contemplating departures of their own. Before they sign the divorce papers, however, officials in Baghdad and Washington should consider the many reasons why staying together is best for both them and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Oil, Bilateral Relations, Islamic State, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Jordan, United States of America, Gulf Nations