New at the BESA Center
A conference exploring the current and future status of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Thursday, March 27 at 5:00 pm, Feldman Conference Center (Building 301).
מרכז בס”א למחקרים אסטרטגיים שבאוניברסיטת בר-אילן מודיע על פרס לסטודנט מצטיין
Prof. Barry Rubin served as Deputy Director of the BESA Center from 1996-2002.
The BESA Center has again been ranked one of the top think tanks in the Middle East and Africa.
The movement’s time in power in Egypt provides a rare perspective into the its ideology, influence on Egyptian policy, and relations with Israel. The military coup that removed the Brotherhood from power has cast doubt on its influence on Egypt’s future.
South Korea’s Middle East policy balances political neutrality with a cautious policy towards Israel, as Seoul is concerned that political support for Israel will jeopardize its positive standing in the Middle East.
“Mowing the Grass” is Israel’s strategy for a protracted intractable conflict. Only after showing restraint in its military responses does Israel act to destroy enemy capabilities, hoping that occasional large-scale operations also have a temporary deterrent effect to create quiet along its borders.
The interim accord reached in Geneva regarding Iran’s nuclear program is a bad deal that enshrines Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state and paves Tehran’s path towards a nuclear bomb.
An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is a risky and militarily-complicated endeavor, but within reach. Israeli ingenuity and determination could lead to a great operational and political success.
France’s bold move to hold up a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran reflects its broader policy and genuine concern about a nuclear Iran.
The IDF and the Iran-Hizballah axis are in the midst of a long-term military build-up, preparing for the possibility of a full-scale eruption of the ongoing covert struggle between them.
The Iranian regime can be considered rational, but it cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. History has proven that radical regimes can seek the destruction of others if faced with an immense threat. Israel cannot rely on deterrence and must be prepared to confront Iran militarily or invest in ballistic missile defense.
Iran is just buying time until it has a nuclear break-out capability and the ability to threaten world security. The US must act militarily to stop Iran and restore its international credibility.
The West is headed towards an agreement with Iran, who will not produce nuclear weapons but further enrich uranium and plutonium. However, it is possible that Iran will be able to produce several bombs, too quickly to be stopped.
Syrian Civil War
Efforts to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons are running months behind schedule. Even if Assad abides by his commitment, Syria’s equally dangerous biological weapon stocks will remain.
Disarming Syria’s chemical arsenal will be a big challenge. The US-Russia timetable seems too condensed, even if good will is assumed. Syria possesses a huge chemical weapons arsenal, and is likely to further develop biological weapons, which the US-Russia accord does not discuss.
France has changed its view that conflicts can be resolved only through diplomacy, which explains the country’s recent military activism in Libya, Mali, and perhaps soon in Syria, as well.
In this roundtable discussion, ten experts at the BESA Center the implications for Israel and the West of the civil war raging in Syria, just across Israel’s northern border. The bottom line: Israel should stay out of the conflict but prepare for continued instability as Syria breaks up.
Bombing Syrian CBW stockpiles could result in significant environmental pollution. If Assad falls, the West needs to ensure secure transposition of these arms to a stable, sane central authority.
Palestinian water shortages are the result of Palestinian policies that deliberately waste water and destroy the regional water ecology. The PA is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel.
A collapse in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will not lead to an international boycott of Israel. Jerusalem’s robust trade relations with many countries will not freeze over an impasse in negotiations.
Israel must resist pressure and retain the Jordan Valley, its only available defensible border to the east, in a future peace deal. Israel must also build in Area E-1, which would link the valley to an undivided Jerusalem.
Mahmoud Abbas views recognition of Israel as the Jewish state as a red line. It is high time the Palestinians recognize the Jewish people’s right to their ancient homeland.
This important study, based on previously classified data, refutes Palestinian claims that Israel is denying West Bank Palestinians water rights negotiated under the Oslo Accords.
New Paradigms in Peace Diplomacy
Within the currently-defined, narrow confines of the conventional two-state parameters, no Israeli-Palestinian agreement is likely. Regional alternatives that widen the scope of actors taking responsibility for a settlement can creatively help break the impasse.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the Land of Israel has evolved over the past hundred years. Nowadays, most attempts to solve this conflict revolve around the two-state paradigm. However, a solution based on this paradigm is unlikely to emerge in the near future.
The Palestinians refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state and are reluctant to drop their armed and ideological opposition to Israel’s existence. The global community can oppose Palestinian denial of Israel’s connection to the land; support Israel’s legitimacy; resettle Palestinian refugees outside of Israel; modify aid programs to reduce Palestinian use of foreign money to support terror; and encourage free speech in Palestinian society.
John Kerry warned of a return to Palestinian violence and Israel’s isolation should peace talks fail, yet another reflection of the Obama administration’s inability to properly understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
John Kerry has abandoned America’s honest broker stance in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, laying out the consequences for Israel of disobeying America, but doing no such thing for the Palestinians if they remain intransigent.
The changes in the region will force the Obama administration to make some difficult decisions on how to act regarding Egypt, Syria, the Palestinians, and Iran. Alarmist scenarios that a second term Obama administration will abandon Israel are unwarranted.
Israel and the US must improve their lines of communication. The US also ought to consider equipping Israel with enhanced military resources that would allow Israel to confront Iran at a later date – giving the West more time to pressure the Iranian regime.
The Turkish Prime Minister is facing unprecedented political pressure that might precipitate the end of his rule.
Tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem have escalated since Turkey harshly criticized Israel following its invasion of the Gaza Strip in December 2008 (Operation Cast Lead). This is due to a reorientation in Turkish foreign policy, characterized by moving away from the West and by a desire for better relations with Muslim states.
Syria and Iraq have become battlefields on influence between Turkey and Iran. In Syria, a proxy war is underway, with Iran supplying weapons to its Alawite client and Turkey actively arming the opposition. In Iraq, Turkey and Iran vie for political influence along Sunni-Shiite fault lines.
Turkish demands are unreasonable and an apology will not change the anti-Israeli policy of an increasingly authoritarian and Islamist Turkey. Israel’s reluctance to criticize Erdogan’s government is construed as weakness and Jerusalem should take off its gloves in dealing with Ankara.
The Future of Egypt
Egypt’s new rulers are faced with a terror problem emanating from the Sinai, led by radical jihad groups. The US and international community must support the Egyptian regime to prevent Egypt from turning into the next Syria.
The latest chapter in the Egyptian Revolution is nothing more than a return to the military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s troubles may only be beginning.
Hopes or expectations that the Egyptian military will intervene in the deteriorating political and security crisis are probably misguided.
Morsi’s hosting Ahmadinejad signals a potential improvement in ties between Egypt and Iran. This move will backfire, as ultimately Morsi needs the US and Gulf countries more than they need him.
The Brotherhood sees Israel as a strategic threat and has aggressively lobbied Morsi to strengthen Egyptian military presence in Sinai. The anti-Israel rhetoric emanating from senior Brotherhood leaders must be taken seriously.
Arab Spring-Islamist Winter
In this new book, eight experts from the BESA Center and other institutes evaluate the Arab earthquakes rocking the Middle East. They consider their implications of the regional volatility for Israel and its chances to live peacefully in the region, as well as the implications for regional and global security.
Dramatic events have unfolded in the Middle East since the beginning of 2011. This unstable environment indicates trouble for Israel. What follows is an assessment of the implications of the changing regional environment for Israel’s national security.
“Nakba Day” confrontations along Israel’s borders reflect new regional realities and a long-term weakening of Israel’s deterrence posture.
When the first Qassam rocket landed in the town of Sderot in October 2001, few observers, if any, perceived it as the harbinger of a protracted and increasingly furious campaign by the radical Palestinian groups in Gaza against Israel’s population centers adjacent to the Gaza Strip (the so called “Gaza envelope” communities) by ballistic weapons.
Praise for Iron Dome may be deserved, yet Israel’s deterrence capability has not been enhanced, and Israel’s enemies may initiate an arms race to try and defeat it.
The operation also proved Israel’s determination to act forcefully in the post “Arab Spring” environment. However, the lack of a ground offensive allowed Hamas to craft a victory narrative and gave it the potential to re-arm.
If the appearance of Iron Dome on the battlefields of southern Israel was what compelled Palestinians to scale down the scope of their rocket fire, this would be a major strategic achievement of Israel’s newly deployed missile shield, and a resounding exoneration for the resources invested in it.
The threat to Israel of missile warfare is somewhat exaggerated and public discourse on this issue should reflect realistic assessments. Missile attacks would be able to inflict only limited physical damage on Israel.
Almost the entire Israeli home front has come under rocket and missile assault. This article surveys the Israeli response to rocket attacks, including the targeting of missile launchers and improved civil defense; and discusses the need for a comprehensive active missile defense.
Security in the Gulf
There is speculation on collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Israel against Iran. However, given its history and concern for the legitimacy of its rule, the Saudis are more likely to draw closer to Iran.
Yemen is on the verge of becoming a failed state, as the interim government struggles to fight terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, that have made Yemen a base of operations.
The process of balancing and satisfying Saudi royal factions depends on patience and conservatism within royal circles. It also requires quiet in the streets of Riyadh and Jedda. Thus far, there are no signs of the so-called “Arab Spring” spreading to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis are all bark and no bite. Despite occasional public “outrage” from Saudi officials about US policy regarding the Arab unrest, Israel, Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan, Riyadh and Washington are still very distant from the parting of ways threatened by some Saudi officials.
The threat emanating from Iran as well as the lack of confidence in US support gives the Gulf states much to fear and has imbued the GCC with new-found unity and purpose.