Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman

Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman

Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman

(Ph.D. London School of Economics) Member of Faculty, Shalem Academic Center. Former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office. Held senior posts in IDF Military Intelligence for over 20 years. Also served as Israel director of the American Jewish Committee.
Mobile: 972-50-620-5354

The “Game of Camps” Revisited: Why Qatar? Why Now?

In the Middle East “game of camps”, the Qataris have been playing a dangerous game for years. They have provocatively supported the Muslim Brotherhood and actively promoted the destabilization of existing regimes, using huge sums of money as well as the pernicious influence of Al Jazeera TV. The dramatic steps taken against them over the past few days are thus hardly surprising, but they shed some light on the present stage in the struggle for regional hegemony.

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Strategic Consensus: DOA in 1981; Resurrected in 2017?

President Trump’s efforts to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table are taking place against the background of a broader effort to recast US policy in the region. The memory of Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s failed effort, back in 1981, to put together a regional “strategic consensus” against the Soviets may have faded, but the idea behind it is making a comeback. Facing the Iranian revolutionary regime and its proxies on the one hand and radical Sunni versions of Islamist totalitarianism on the other, key regional players are now more open than ever to an informal US-led alliance against their common enemies. The semblance, perhaps even the substance, of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front can facilitate this; but even more important would be a firm policy on Iran.

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The New Hamas Policy Document: Same Old Same Old (Mostly)

The new Hamas policy document, which is meant to complement, rather than replace, the Hamas Covenant of 1988, does not in any way depart from what the movement believes to be the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to a state “from the river to the sea”. The document declares both the Balfour Declaration and the UN Partition Resolution of 1947 “null and void”, and makes clear that the Palestinian state – to be achieved piecemeal if necessary – is to be created at the expense of the very existence of the Jewish State. While the text is not by any means a breakthrough, it does contain a few indications that pressure on Hamas can eventually bear fruit.

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Mahmoud Abbas Goes to Washington: What Is at Stake?

The preparatory visit to Washington now underway by a Palestinian delegation, headed by Saeb Erekat, underscores the importance attached to the forthcoming visit early next month by Mahmoud Abbas. The indications that Abbas is now willing to contemplate a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu under Trump’s auspices may seem surprising, given the latter’s firm stand on issues important to Israel. But it should be considered in the context of the broader consolidation of the pro-western forces in the region, who felt on unstable ground during the Obama years.

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West Bank Construction Can Help Solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The understandings reached between the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government, and approved by the Israeli Security Cabinet (despite some protests), show that a reasonable program of settlement construction is not the root of all evil in the region. In fact, a peace deal is more likely if space is given to the mainstream settler community. The new understandings overturn the language of UNSCR 2334 and the “purist” interpretation of “international legitimacy.” Such a return to the recognition of existing realities – which was granted in the exchange of letters between Bush and Sharon in April 2004 – would help all sides come closer to a realistic compromise.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm About the Trump Administration

| February 15, 2017

One cannot blame Israelis for their sense of euphoria following the change of government in the US, but a less simplistic view of events in the US reveals a more complex picture. It is in Israel’s interest to approach the new administration with a degree of restraint.

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Know Thine Enemy: From GWOT to CVE to DIT?

| February 12, 2017

To fight an enemy effectively, that enemy must be clearly defined. George W. Bush spoke of a war on terror, but conducted a crusade against tyranny. Barack Obama gave lip service to the freedom agenda, but employed a “realist”, non-interventionist policy on most issues, was reluctant to speak of “enemies” beyond al-Qaida and IS, and never called the enemy by name. The Trump administration is reportedly planning to scrap the conceptual framework of Obama’s “CVE” – Countering Violent Extremism – and focus more explicitly on the Islamist threat, but it remains to be seen just how he defines that threat.

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How Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem Can Improve Prospects for Peace

| January 18, 2017

In contrast to the recent “Stop Trump” conference in Paris, a decision by the next US administration to move the US embassy to Jerusalem might be conducive to the cause of peace. It will remove the air of delusional unreality surrounding all aspects of the Jerusalem question, and modify what the Palestinians should legitimately expect to achieve at the negotiating table. It will send a message of credibility and of stern refusal to bow to threats of violence. It would still need to be packaged carefully, above all in terms of policies the key Arab players now hope to see instituted; such as the restoration of US support for traditional allies and the willingness to back them against the Iranian and Islamist threats.

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The Libyan Tragedy and Its Meaning: The Wages of Indecision

| January 8, 2017

Overshadowed by the Syrian tragedy, the collapse of the Libyan state had dangerous consequences for Mediterranean security. It also demonstrated the cost of a hastily organized intervention followed by disastrous neglect and the rise of Islamist forces. Still, its latest chapter – the successful campaign to eradicate IS in Sirte – proves that when carefully chosen, limited military means can achieve strategic goals: and in that basis, measures should be taken to satisfy General Hiftar and his Egyptian backers.

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UNSCR 2334: A Disservice to the Cause of Peace

| December 26, 2016

In four respects, UNSCR 2334 undermines the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and threatens what little regional stability is left.

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