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obama

Implications of US Disengagement from the Middle East

July 26, 2016,

The United States is retreating from the Middle East. The adverse implications of this policy shift are manifold, including: the acceleration of Tehran’s drive to regional hegemony, the palpable risk of regional nuclear proliferation following the JCPOA, the spread of jihadist Islam, and Russia’s growing penetration of the region. Manifest US weakness is also bound to have ripple effects far beyond the Middle East, as global players question the value of partnership with an irresolute Washington.more

lebanon

Lebanon 2006-2016: Deterrence is an Elusive Concept

In the years following the 2006 war, Hezbollah has increased the quantity and quality of its missiles and rockets by tenfold. We must think, therefore, about the next operation in Lebanon. The destruction will be enormous, and IDF ground forces will have to act decisively and quickly to counteract fire and inflict great losses on Hezbollah. If the IDF practices well ahead of the campaign (as opposed to in the days before 2006); if the political parties are clear in their intentions; and if their orders are related to the reality on the battlefield, the IDF should achieve a great deal. As always, the next question will be how to translate those military achievements into political achievements – and to do so more effectively than in 2006.more

netanyahu_erdogan

The Turkish-Israeli Reconciliation: A Balance Sheet

The Turkish-Israeli reconciliation – while raising legitimate moral questions – yielded terms very much in Israel’s favor, compared to where things stood recently. Legal threats have been averted, Turkish pressure over the siege of Gaza has been lifted, and the prospects for full Israeli participation in NATO activities are significantly brighter. The rapprochement should have no ill effect on Israel’s relationships with other friends and allies in the Eastern Mediterranean. more

Turkey Israel

The Importance of Interests in Israel-Turkey Reconciliation

The Israel-Turkey reconciliation deal boils down to mutually beneficial interests; not trust, and certainly not sympathy. This deal will bolster Israel's security as well as its international standing, making the price worthwhile.more

Not occupation

Occupation Is Not the Problem

July 4, 2016,

The proposition that “occupation” is to blame for Palestinian terrorism defies history, reality, and logic. Israel’s control of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza has been virtually nonexistent for twenty years, ever since the 1995 interim agreement and the 1997 Hebron redeployment. Palestinian terrorism has increased not in response to the “occupation,” but in response to its ending.more

tank-gaza

No One-Shot Solution to the Hamas Challenge

June 30, 2016,

The use of massive force in a “once-and-for-all” military operation cannot purge Hamas from Gaza because it has deep roots in Palestinian society. Israel’s only sensible option is to continue to employ a militarily modest and politically calibrated “mowing the grass” strategy, which is designed to occasionally knock back Hamas military capabilities and enhance deterrence for an admittedly limited period.more

putin1

The Return of the Russian Bear to the Middle East

June 5, 2016,

This study looks at the aggressive new posture in Russian foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin, in the wake of its intervention in Syria and the Crimean peninsula.more

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Recent Conferences

The Day After Abbas

June 14, 2016
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Videos of the lectures delivered (in Hebrew) at a June conference on “The Day After Abbas: Wither the Palestinian Authority?” The conference dealt with the expected battle for succession in the PA, Israel’s diplomatic dilemmas, and likely international scenarios.

IDF Challenges

April 2, 2016
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How can and should the IDF adapt to meet new threats, and respond to changes in Israeli society? This was the focus of a day-long BESA Center conference in March 2016.

Videos of the lectures are accessible by clicking on the speaker names.

Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean

February 29, 2016
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Now available: Videos of the lectures delivered at a February international conference on “Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean,” with participants from Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, NATO, the US and Israel.

The conference was jointly convened by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and B'nai B'rith International, with the participation of leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Greek Defense Minister Speaks Out Forcefully in Alliance with Israel

February 21, 2016
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On February 18, 2016, the Greek Minister of Defense, Panos Kammenos, addressed an international conference at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on “Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean.” Kammenos offered a comprehensive and very forceful articulation of Greece’s view of the region: Of the dangers of radical Islam, of the problematic behavior of Turkey, and of his country’s new alliance with Israel. It is worth reading the full text of his address, entitled “Greece and the Southeastern Mediterranean: A Policy for Peace, Stability, and Prosperity.”

New at BESA Center

BESA Center Associates Discuss Fighting Palestinian Terrorism and Securing Jerusalem

January 28, 2016
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In this round-table debate, BESA Center experts discuss Israel’s policy options in responding to Palestinian terrorism and reinforcing Israel’s hold in its capital city. They also discuss the expansion of Jerusalem, proposals for sharing Jerusalem, how to handle Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and Jewish prayer on Temple Mount.

Dr. Eitan Shamir’s new book on Military Command

January 10, 2016
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The Israel Ministry of Defense has published an updated and revised Hebrew edition of Dr. Eitan Shamir’s landmark book, Transforming Command (Stanford UP, 2011; Pikud Mesima, Modan, 2015). The book has been endorsed by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and has become required reading in many military academies including the US army, navy and marines, the UK military colleges, and in the IDF.

Prof. Efraim Karsh’s new book Debunks Orientalism

January 7, 2016
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In an important new book, The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East (Bloomsbury), BESA Center senior research associate Prof. Efraim Karsh debunks the Edward Said’s “Orientalist” notion that the agonies of the Middle East are traceable to the rough handling of the region by Western powers – first European colonialists, then American cold warriors.

Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman Joins the BESA Center

January 5, 2016
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Dr. Lerman: “False Palestinian narratives of victimhood and blatant lie-telling reveal just how far the Palestinian leadership is from accepting the premises necessary for true peace with Israel.” Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman has joined the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies as a senior research associate.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen Joins the BESA Center

January 3, 2016
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General Hacohen: “Israel must reacquire sufficient ideological determination to persevere, progress, repulse, and overwhelm its adversaries.” Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen has joined the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies as a senior research associate.

New Publications

The Return of the Russian Bear to the Middle East

June 5, 2016
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This study looks at the aggressive new posture in Russian foreign policy under President Vladimir Putin, in the wake of its intervention in Syria and the Crimean peninsula.

Why Israel Should Not Adopt Unilateral Initiatives

The moribund state of the peace process has prompted the suggestion of two opposing unilateral “solutions”: either Israeli withdrawal from, or the annexation of, parts of the West Bank. Neither would be wise policy.

Trends in US Congressional Support for Israel

June 6, 2016 and
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While congressional support for Israel has historically transcended the partisan divide, Republicans and Democrats are growing less cooperative with regard to the means by which to express that support. The authors term this development as “congressional dysergia.” Tensions between the executive branch and Congress are growing as well, as exhibited in conflicts between the Republican-dominated Congress and President Obama.

Chemical Weapons Could Change the Game in Syria

The Syrian regime unleashed full military grade chemical weapons against IS several weeks ago, a move that occasioned little response from the wider world. The assault demonstrated that the dismantling of the Syrian chemical arsenal has not been fulfilled. If repeated, the attack might precipitate a dangerous escalation of the conflict in which IS accelerates its own pursuit of WMDs.

No One-Shot Solution to the Hamas Challenge

June 30, 2016
0

The use of massive force in a “once-and-for-all” military operation cannot purge Hamas from Gaza because it has deep roots in Palestinian society. Israel’s only sensible option is to continue to employ a militarily modest and politically calibrated “mowing the grass” strategy, which is designed to occasionally knock back Hamas military capabilities and enhance deterrence for an admittedly limited period.

Occupation Is Not the Problem

July 4, 2016
0

The proposition that “occupation” is to blame for Palestinian terrorism defies history, reality, and logic. Israel’s control of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza has been virtually nonexistent for twenty years, ever since the 1995 interim agreement and the 1997 Hebron redeployment. Palestinian terrorism has increased not in response to the “occupation,” but in response to its ending.

Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Israel’s Five Policy Options Regarding Judea and Samaria

March 29, 2016
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When Mahmoud Abbas departs from his post as leader of the Palestinian Authority, Israel will have to make strategic choices. This paper discusses five possible policy approaches, none of which is ideal. They are caretaker conflict resolution, creative friction, constructive chaos, unilateral withdrawal, and unilateral annexation. The caretaker option is probably the most feasible; unilateral withdrawal is the least. In every case, however, Israel will have to maintain a military presence in Judea and Samaria.

Occupation Is Not the Problem

July 4, 2016
0

The proposition that “occupation” is to blame for Palestinian terrorism defies history, reality, and logic. Israel’s control of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza has been virtually nonexistent for twenty years, ever since the 1995 interim agreement and the 1997 Hebron redeployment. Palestinian terrorism has increased not in response to the “occupation,” but in response to its ending.

Israel's Palestinian Dilemmas

May 3, 2016
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Israel has gradually come to realize that the Palestinians are neither a partner for peace nor capable of establishing a viable state. Therefore, Israel's recent governments have adopted a de facto conflict-management approach, rather than a conflict-resolution strategy. This prompts several questions. Should Israel speak explicitly about the dim prospects of a two-state solution, or play along with the illusory preferences and pretensions of the international community? Should Israel apply more “stick” than “carrot” to the hostile Palestinian Authority? Would the collapse of the Palestinian Authority serve Israel's interests? And how diplomatically active should Israel be on the Palestinian issue?

The ABCs of Judea and Samaria: Towards Breakdown?

April 8, 2016
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The three types of area jurisdiction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) – A, B and C – were meant as a short-term fix until a real Israeli-Palestinian peace accord could be crafted. More than 20 years later, both sides have broadly infringed on these parameters. Israel regularly penetrates Area A for security reasons, while the PA (with EU support) is building illegally and dangerously in key parts of Area C that are critical to Israel. Israel should halt this encroachment with determination.

Confronting Iran

The Vienna Accord Only Postpones Confrontation with Iran

The Vienna agreement has made the situation more complex and dangerous, not less so. The conflict that will ensue will take place in conditions far worse (from a Western perspective) than before the agreement, pitting the West (and/or Israel) against a much-stronger Iran.

Converging Enemy Threats to Israel

May 28, 2015
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Israeli strategic planners must beware the converging twin hazards of Iranian nuclear weapons and Palestinian statehood.

Israel Cannot Accept the Emerging Accord between the US and Iran

An agreement that would allow Iran to maintain a full nuclear fuel cycle would be far worse than no agreement, and could force Israel to respond independently

Syrian Civil War

Chemical Weapons Could Change the Game in Syria

The Syrian regime unleashed full military grade chemical weapons against IS several weeks ago, a move that occasioned little response from the wider world. The assault demonstrated that the dismantling of the Syrian chemical arsenal has not been fulfilled. If repeated, the attack might precipitate a dangerous escalation of the conflict in which IS accelerates its own pursuit of WMDs.

The ISIS Challenge in Syria; Implications for Israeli Security

May 8, 2016
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ISIS captured the world’s attention when it routed the Iraqi army in Mosul and took control over the city in early June 2014. At one point, its advance southward reached to within 75 km of Israel’s border on the Golan Heights.

The Syrian Civil War: An Interim Balance Sheet

April 6, 2016
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The desire of the international community to end the Syrian civil war is offset by the inability of any individual party to enforce its preferred solution. The conflict, which is likely to continue for some time, has solidified the centrality of Russia and Iran in regional affairs. Israel’s options are limited.

Putin's "Sacred Mission" in Syria

March 27, 2016
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Russia's intervention in Syria cannot be fully explained by strategic or economic factors. Russian political culture, which has been permeated since the fifteenth century by a messianic vision of apocalyptic redemption, has long been a significant guiding factor in the decision-making of Russia's leaders.

New Paradigms in Peace Diplomacy

A Strategy for Peace with the Palestinians

November 1, 2012
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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.

Regional Alternatives to the Two-State Solution

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.

US-Israel Relations

The Kerry-Qatar Ceasefire Document: What it Says About American Strategy in the Middle East

August 3, 2014
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Last week’s failed ceasefire proposal by John Kerry highlights the clash between the Obama administration’s approach to the Middle East, and the strategy preferred by Israel and other American allies in the region.

Kerry: Stay Home

November 10, 2013
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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.

Kerry’s Antagonism Unmasked

November 10, 2013
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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.

US-Israel Mixed Messages on Iran

September 10, 2012
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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.

Turkish-Israeli Relations

The Turkish-Israeli Reconciliation: A Balance Sheet

The Turkish-Israeli reconciliation – while raising legitimate moral questions – yielded terms very much in Israel’s favor, compared to where things stood recently. Legal threats have been averted, Turkish pressure over the siege of Gaza has been lifted, and the prospects for full Israeli participation in NATO activities are significantly brighter. The rapprochement should have no ill effect on Israel’s relationships with other friends and allies in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Importance of Interests in Israel-Turkey Reconciliation

The Israel-Turkey reconciliation deal boils down to mutually beneficial interests; not trust, and certainly not sympathy. This deal will bolster Israel's security as well as its international standing, making the price worthwhile.

The Cold War Between Turkey and Iran

June 11, 2012
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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.

Get Tough With Turkey

July 14, 2011
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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 Deterioration in Israeli-Turkish Relations

February 1, 2011
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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.

The Future of Egypt

Egypt and the Threat of Islamic Terror

January 1, 2014,
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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.

Welcome Back to Mubarak's Egypt

July 4, 2013
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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.

Egypt’s Army Will Not Intervene

March 12, 2013
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Hopes or expectations that the Egyptian military will intervene in the deteriorating political and security crisis are probably misguided.

Morsi’s Egypt and Ahmadinejad’s Iran: Much Ado Over Next to Nothing

February 10, 2013
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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 Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Its True Intentions Towards Israel

December 10, 2012
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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.

2011 Arab Uprisings and Israel'’s Security

February 1, 2012
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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.

Confrontation Along Israel’s Borders

"Nakba Day" confrontations along Israel’s borders reflect new regional realities and a long-term weakening of Israel’s deterrence posture.

Missile Defense

Iron Dome: Has the Euphoria Been Justified?

February 25, 2013
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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.

Operation Pillar of Defense: An Initial Assessment

December 4, 2012
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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.

Iron Dome: A Dress Rehearsal for War?

July 3, 2012
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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.

Missile Warfare: A Realistic Assessment

January 25, 2012
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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.

The Lessons of Operation Cast Lead and 2006 Lebanon War

February 19, 2009
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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

Saudi-Israeli Relations: Balancing Legitimacy and Security

December 17, 2013
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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 Under Attack

December 12, 2013
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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.

Saudi Succession and Stability

November 1, 2011
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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.

Empty Words: Saudi Blustering

July 17, 2011
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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.

Is the GCC in Peril?

March 12, 2014
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Tension over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has damaged relations between Doha and its Gulf neighbors. The days of the GCC may be numbered.