Perspectives Papers

Perspectives Papers provide analysis from BESA Center research associates and other outside experts on the most important issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East.

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A Turkish-EU Opera Buffa

No. 562
| August 17, 2017

Turkey says it wants to join the EU, but has no intention of complying with membership rules. The EU says it wants Turkey to join, but is fully aware that it does not qualify. Turkey pushes forward in the hope that the EU might someday change its rules; the EU pushes forward in the hope that Turkey might someday qualify. Neither will happen.

Russia Feels American Pressure

No. 561
| August 16, 2017

Russian-US relations have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.  President Donald Trump has signed a new package of anti-Russian sanctions into law and increased the US military presence across former Soviet territory and eastern Europe. He also sent VP Mike Pence on a tour of Estonia, Montenegro, and Georgia – a trip viewed by Moscow as western encroachment on an area it considers a buffer zone. This standoff does not mean the two superpowers will not be able to find common ground in other areas, but the potential for cooperation is limited. Former Soviet territory will likely remain a major confrontation line between the US and Russia.

Russiagate: Another Watergate?

No. 560
| August 15, 2017

Just as occurred during the Watergate crisis of 1973-74, America – the world’s indispensable power – is again facing a constitutional crisis, with a paralyzed president writhing beneath the Damoclean sword of Russiagate.  New evidence sheds fresh light on the origins and making of both “gates,” as does a closer exploration of the Nixon-Brezhnev and Trump-Putin bromances.

The Potentially Existential Threat to Israel from “Palestine”

No. 559
| August 14, 2017

“Palestine” could present a far greater threat to Israel than a third intifada or persistent terrorism. This threat, which would further exacerbate the area’s correlation of forces, is potentially existential. Under certain circumstances, Palestinian statehood could meaningfully enlarge the prospects of both mega-terror attacks and regional nuclear war.

Is China Intervening in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

No. 558
| August 13, 2017

On July 18, 2017, PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to the media, the meeting was productive. “Beijing will create a dialogue mechanism between Israel and the Palestinians, with China being the mediator, and later this year China will hold a peace conference and try to resolve the conflict”, according to Xi. This sounds good, but Beijing has more pressing priorities. It is not interested in forging deals with little chance of success.

It Is Time for Abbas to Take Positive Action

No. 557
| August 10, 2017

Is Mahmoud Abbas, like Yasser Arafat before him, stalling the peace process out of fear that no agreement would be sufficiently maximizing? By now he should have learned that the best deals are those signed with confidence, in mutual trust and good will; and that he stands to gain a great deal through constructive action rather than destructive antics. Those who lead know that decisive journeys start with a risky first step.

Don’t Dismantle UNRWA; Reform Its Policies

No. 556
| August 9, 2017

The desire of Prime Minister Netanyahu to dismantle UNRWA, while understandable in light of the agency’s egregious history of collusion with Hamas, is not a practical proposition. Israel can, however, demand that funding to UNRWA be conditioned on the agency’s reform in multiple areas.

India-US Counterterrorism Cooperation: The Way Forward

No. 555
| August 8, 2017

Narendra Modi’s visit to the Trump White House in June was his fifth visit to the US since becoming PM of India in 2014, but his first encounter with an American president who does not seem to share his immediate predecessors’ positive view of India. Since Trump’s election on an “America First” platform, there has been apprehension in New Delhi that it might fall off Washington’s radar.

North Korean Brinksmanship on Trump’s Nuclear “Red Line”

No. 554

Pyongyang uses the buzz that accompanies its ballistic missile and nuclear tests, as well as the obscurity that conceals the extent of its infrastructure for weapons grade fissile materials production and nuclear weaponization, as tools with which to challenge Washington. Trump is not Obama, however. Kim Jong-un will need to tread carefully to avoid provoking an American preemptive strike.

Recurring Patterns: The Temple Mount Riots

No. 553
| August 6, 2017

Major Palestinian riots erupted in response to the placement of metal detectors at the entrance of the Temple Mount, with the Palestinian inciters falsely claiming that the al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger. This form of action might serve as a model for future riots even if Israel signs a peace agreement with the Palestinians. As Israel’s concessions in such an agreement would be irreversible, the threat of easy-to-incite riots makes the prospects for peace even more remote.