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Area C is Strategically Vital for Israel

The proposed transfer of significant parts of Area C to the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) will be detrimental to Israel's national interest, if only because these territories are almost completely devoid of any Palestinian population. As such, they afford not only a strong security grip but the possibility of extensive Jewish settlement without threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic character. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s meticulous and detailed demarcation of Area C in the Oslo Accords underscores the great importance he accorded to Israel's continued retention of this territory.more

“Sharp Power”: Hamas’s Dirty War Against Israel

April 17, 2018,

In the so-called "March of Return," Hamas is utilizing a new kind of power in international relations called "sharp power." This term originally referred to the subversion, manipulation, distraction, and lies authoritarian governments employ to undermine liberal democracies. The concept can now be applied to terrorist organizations like Hamas.more

Enhancing the IAF’s Qualitative Edge: The Air-Launched Cruise Missile Option

April 16, 2018,

The acquisition of advanced air and air defense systems by existing and potential adversaries presents the Israeli Air Force (IAF) with a new qualitative challenge. To maintain its technological edge, the IAF is investing considerable resources into upgrading its fourth-generation platforms, acquiring new fifth-generation F-35I multi-role fighters, and developing other relevant capabilities. These actions will secure the IAF’s position as the dominant air force in the region. However, the IAF’s fourth-generation fighters – its F-16s and F-15s –will be exposed to significantly greater risk than before. By acquiring and integrating stealthy, long-range air-launched cruise missiles on one or more of its fourth-generation fighter types, the IAF can greatly minimize the risk to their crews while allowing them to tackle a wide range of targets in highly contested environments.more

Israel’s Intelligence “Factory”

April 16, 2018,

In the 11 years since the Israeli strike on Syria’s nuclear-weapons production site, a quiet revolution has taken place within the Israeli defense establishment. Today, the IDF’s ability to detect, analyze, and use intelligence regarding emerging threats is substantially more developed than it was in 2007.more

The Strategic Goals of a Restored Russia

April 15, 2018,

The Soviet “deep state” survived the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It is back with a vengeance.more

Despite His Victory, Putin’s Problems Will Grow

April 15, 2018,

On March 18, Russia elected Vladimir Putin for a fourth presidential term, making his rule the longest since Joseph Stalin’s. But this next term will be a new experience for both Putin and the Russian people. In terms of foreign policy, Moscow face increased Western challenges. Internally, Putin will have to decide whether to prolong his rule in 2024 or pick a successor – a process with significant foreign policy reverberations that will involve reshuffles and elite infighting inside the Kremlin.more

Saudi Moderation? Prince Muhammad Is on Shaky Ground

April 12, 2018,

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has dazzled international media and public opinion by lifting some restrictions on women’s rights and holding out hope for the abolishment of others, vowing to return the kingdom to a vague form of moderate Islam that many believe is defined by the social reforms he has already implemented, and curbing the powers of the country’s ultra-conservative leadership. But his top-down approach to social change, which brushes aside Saudi history, rests on shaky ground.more

Should the US Stay In Iraq or Pull Out?

April 11, 2018,

It takes only a quick read of the main articles featured in al-Wifaq, the Arabic language mouthpiece of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to grasp the complexity of US involvement in Iraq and the question it raises on whether the US presence abets or hinders Iranian control over Iraq.more

Russia’s Toxic Legacy

The recent poisoning on British soil of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for the UK's intelligence services, and his daughter Yulia with a very rare nerve agent of the Novichok type appears almost certainly to have been conducted by the Russians. While the attack is part of a long chain of similar incidents, it was an overwhelming event diplomatically, politically, practically, and in terms of intelligence. Two similar incidents in London exhibited common elements linking them to the Skripal attack. Together, they shed light on the apparatus that might be responsible.more

If Confirmed, Pompeo Will Face Tough Challenges

April 10, 2018,

On March 13, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he was replacing US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Pompeo, a former Republican congressman from Kansas (2011-17), is an outspoken critic of “the Iran deal” – as is John Bolton, who has since been named General H.R. McMaster’s replacement as National Security Advisor. Pompeo’s confirmation hearing will take place on April 12. Like Bolton, he is likely to face a tough battle for a difficult position.more

The Test of the March of Return: Violence in the West Bank

April 9, 2018,

The real test of Hamas’s March of Return campaign in Gaza lies in its ability to mobilize mass violence in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and other parts of the West Bank. So far, most of the Arab inhabitants of those areas are content to watch the events on their screens rather than in the streets while confronting Israeli troops.more

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New at BESA Center

In Memoriam

April 12, 2018

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and its Director, Efraim Karsh, mourn the passing of the mother of our colleague Dr. Eitan Shamir.

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?

Conflicting Interests: Tehran and the National Aspirations of the Iraqi Kurds

December 14, 2017

The national aspirations of the Kurdish minority in Iraq pose a challenge to the four countries that have a large Kurdish population. It is not by chance that the decision to hold a referendum provoked furious reactions among the leaders of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. According to the received wisdom, the success of Iraq’s Kurdish minority in realizing its national self-determination will serve as a catalyst for separatist tendencies among the Iranian Kurds.

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.