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Saudi Arabia and Israel: Know Thine Enemy

July 20, 2018,

Ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel have reached new heights in the past two years, culminating in a recent report that a meeting had taken place between Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israelis should exercise caution, however, before they read too much into this relationship. Riyadh continues to foment hatred of Israel at home.more

DEBATE: What’s Next for Turkey?

July 19, 2018,

Turkey’s fate has been associated with that of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ever since 2002. After having won multiple elections and referenda and surviving an attempted coup d’état in July 2016, he is consolidating power in an unprecedented manner. The elections of June 24, 2018 were his most recent test, and he passed it successfully. Despite divisions within Turkish society and criticism in the West, Erdoğan continues to steer Turkey by holding greater power than any other Turkish leader in decades. The full impact of this development on Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy remains to be seen. BESA joins the debate by asking: Now that Erdoğan has passed his most recent electoral test, what is next for Turkey?more

The Impact on India of the Collapse of the Iran Nuclear Deal

July 18, 2018,

The withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal is likely to deal a blow to India’s strategic investments in energy-rich Iran and land-locked Afghanistan as the Chinese strategic footprint there grows. Maintaining good relations with both Riyadh and Tehran will also become more challenging for New Delhi. The Iran dilemma materialized at the wrong time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as India is preparing for parliamentary elections in less than a year. The pressure being exerted by the Trump administration on the Modi government to stop all oil imports from Tehran is set to complicate India’s diplomatic ties with Iran. It remains to be seen how India will secure its interests in Afghanistan and Central Asia without Iranian support.more

Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean Alliance

July 17, 2018,

The Eastern Mediterranean Alliance (Israel, Greece, and Cyprus) is emerging at a time of increasing global instability. All three states are firm democracies that promote peace, security, and environmental stability in the region. The tripartite alliance is strategically the most significant anchor of Greek security and economic progress.more

Have Putin and Netanyahu Struck a Grand Bargain?

July 16, 2018,

On July 8, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike in Syrian territory that struck once again at the T4 base near Homs. Interestingly, Israel did not conduct any airstrikes to stop the concurrent advance of Syrian and Hezbollah forces southward. This might suggest that a grand bargain has been offered by Russia to Israel – one in which Moscow assures Jerusalem of an Iranian withdrawal in return for Israel’s acceptance of the consolidation of the Syrian state. This might explain Israel’s passivity, but it is by no means certain that Moscow will prevail on Tehran to withdraw from Syria.more

Why Russia Needs Israel

July 16, 2018,

Why has Russia under Putin acknowledged Israel’s need to prevent the buildup of an Iranian military presence in Syria?  Putin’s vision is to cement an alliance of minorities against the Sunni majority in the Middle East. Israel could be a valuable participant in making that vision a reality – but only if Moscow works to rid Syria of the Iranian presence, joins forces to topple its Islamist regime, and weans the Alawite regime in Damascus away from Tehran.more

The Kim-Trump and Kim-Moon Summits

July 15, 2018,

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s summits with US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in were important milestones in solving the Korean Peninsula crisis, but they are only the first step in a long negotiation process that will take at least two years and might face several obstacles. more

Palestinian Sovereignty after Abbas

July 13, 2018,

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s recent illnesses have again raised the matter of his successor. This brewing issue highlights contradictory aspects of Palestinian political culture. The leaders create chaos and then blackmail Western powers in exchange for containment of the unrest. Their next step is to internationalize the conflict by demanding unconditional support. Both tactics create dependency and fundamentally undermine Palestinian sovereignty. Trusteeship schemes for the West Bank illustrate the pattern of dysfunction. Only a concept of Palestinian sovereignty free of blackmail and internationalization would allow for a successful state, but this is thwarted by the concept of Palestinian national honor, which demands a return to an imaginary status quo ante.more

Israel’s Active Defense Campaign in Syria: The Next Phase

July 12, 2018,

Tehran’s recent decision to attempt direct clashes with Israel resulted in a resounding defeat on May 10, when the IDF destroyed 50 Iranian military targets in Syrian territory. Iran is now shifting gears back to its traditional proxy approach. While it appears reluctant to mobilize Hezbollah against Israel right now and risk a full-scale regional war, it is continuing to work on securing a military position in Syria to use for future aggression. Israel must maintain its flexibility and responsiveness in order to prevent the creation of a second Iranian mass missile front on the border.more

The Israeli Labor Party and Its Palestinian “Partner”

July 11, 2018,

The low standings of the Zionist Camp list in public opinion polls floated a new demand for change at the top. As a result, the Labor party, the Zionist Camp’s senior partner, is again challenging its newly elected chairman, Avi Gabai. Despite replacing its leaders with each election campaign, Labor has never made a comeback to govern Israel. Because it is identified with Ramallah’s demands in any future settlement, Labor has suffered electoral punishment. An analysis of Labor’s performance over the past two decades reveals that its leadership has not yet internalized that instead of replacing its frontrunner, it should replace its alleged partner for a durable peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict.more

The Illusion of Israeli-Palestinian Spatial Separation

The situation in the Gaza Strip since the 2005 disengagement debunks three fundamental assumptions that have become axiomatic in the Israeli security discourse: that total separation between Israelis and Palestinians will inevitably enhance security and stability; that the IDF will comfortably win any future confrontation in the evacuated territories; and that Israeli military activity in the previously held territories will enjoy massive international legitimacy and support.more

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New at BESA Center

The Privileged Palestinian “Refugees”

May 15, 2018

The “Palestine refugees” have been exceptionally indulged by the international community for seventy long years. This ranged from their very recognition as refugees though most of them fail to satisfy the basic criteria for such status, to the unprecedented benefit of a relief agency created exclusively for their welfare (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA), to the unique privilege of passing on “refugee” status to future generations.

Conference: Reforming UNRWA

March 18, 2018

“Palestine refugees” have been exceptionally indulged by the international community for 70 long years. Consider the ways: They should not even have been classified as refugees, they had the unprecedented benefit of a relief agency created exclusively for their welfare (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA), and they uniquely can pass on the “refugee” status to future generations.

Reframing the Middle Eastern and Palestinian Refugee Crises

March 13, 2018 and

There are two Middle Eastern refugee crises currently vying for resources and attention. One is nominally focused on Syria but in fact extends from Libya to Afghanistan. The other crisis is Palestinian and has supposedly been going on since 1948. A closer look at the causes of these crises shows the former to be primarily the result of the collapsing Arab state system and the rise of militant Islam, while the latter cannot be considered a crisis at all.

Conference: Strategic Challenges in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Gulf

February 22, 2018

Videos from the February 22 international conference on Strategic Challenges in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Gulf, convened by the BESA Center and B’nai B’rith International.

Surviving Donald Trump: Israel’s Strategic Options

February 2, 2018

While Israel has always been determinedly self-reliant on core matters of national security, this posture needs to become even more explicit in the disjointed “Trump Era.” In correctly acknowledging the unpredictability and possible incoherence of Trump’s developing policies towards the Middle East, Jerusalem will need to direct special attention towards growing prospects for “Cold War II,” and certain incrementally needed revisions of Israeli nuclear strategy.

DEBATE: What Is the Best Way to Deal with North Korea?

December 31, 2017

Q: A few weeks after the visit of US President Donald Trump to Asia, North Korea is continuing with its missile launches. While the military option is openly on Washington’s agenda, a potential diplomatic solution cannot be excluded. BESA is joining the debate by asking experts: What is the best way to deal with North Korea?

DEBATE: Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital – What Does It Mean?

December 11, 2017

Q: On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump made a statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and declaring that his administration will immediately begin the process of building an embassy in Jerusalem. What does Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital mean?

Respondents: Elliott Abrams, Daniel Pipes, Max Singer, Eytan Gilboa, Jonathan Rynhold, Hillel Frisch

DEBATE: Decertification of the Iran Deal – What Happens Next?

November 24, 2017

Q: Will the decertification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Iran nuclear agreement by US President Donald Trump pave the way to fixing it?

Respondents: Michael Rubin, Emily B. Landau, Barbara Slavin, Behnam Ben Taleblu, Paulina Izewicz, Raphael Ofek

Recent Conferences

Australia-Israel Dialogue

November 1, 2017

On November 1, 2017, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Bar-Ilan Univeristy co-hosted the “Be’er Sheva Dialogue” at the Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel. The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia, was in attendance.

Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean

February 21, 2017

On February 21, 2017, for the second consecutive year, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and B’nai B’rith International jointly held an international conference on Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean. The event, which took place at the Begin-Sadat Center, involved the participation of experts from Greece, Russia, Britain, Turkey, Albania, the US, and Israel.