Colonel (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
Vice President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and SecurityEmail: email@example.com
Dr. Lerman was deputy director for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. He held senior posts in IDF Military Intelligence for over 20 years. He also served for eight years as director of the Israel and Middle East office of the American Jewish Committee. He teaches in the Middle East studies program at Shalem College in Jerusalem, and in post-graduate programs at Tel Aviv University and the National Defense College. He is an expert on Israel’s foreign relations, and on the Middle East. A third-generation Sabra, he holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, and a mid-career MPA from Harvard University.
Vice President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.
Strong Security, Social Change, and Ideological Warfare: A Three-Pronged Strategy for Defeating Islamist Totalitarianism
Defeating Islamist totalitarianism requires a three-pronged approach: Hard power (destroying Salafi Jihadist forces, preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and undercutting avid supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood such as Turkey and Qatar); Social and economic leverage; Conduct of an aggressive war of ideas that would de-legitimize the Islamists in Islamic terms. Israel can play a discreet role by extending its hand to moderate Muslims, while taking a firm stance against the totalitarian perversion of Islam.
The Keystone: Sisi, Egyptian Stability and the Future of the Eastern Mediterranean
Egyptian President Al-Sisi's greatest challenges are combatting terrorism in Sinai and beyond, spurring economic growth, capitalizing on the country's energy opportunities, carrying forward great national projects, solving the Nile waters challenge posed by Ethiopia, and addressing critics in Europe and the United States. Given the alternatives, it is very much in the interest of Israel and regional allies to assist Sisi, while simultaneously encouraging him to curb some his regime’s most repressive characteristics.
Israel’s Remarkable Diplomatic Achievements in 2017
Over the course of 2017, Israel has secured a series of remarkable and even unprecedented diplomatic achievements. This reflects a growing global and regional recognition of a shared threat from totalitarian Islamism, as well as an appreciation of Israel's capacity to contribute to its partners in a variety of fields. Israel must act to build on these gains, and nourish the conditions which allow for them. This includes developing shared interests with several key Arab countries, and prudent management of the conflict with Palestinians.
Israeli Sovereignty in Jerusalem as a Key to Regional Stability
Israeli sovereignty in united Jerusalem serves as a vital anchor for the regional “Camp of Stability.” This explains Israel’s decision to take Jordanian and Palestinian interests into consideration when restoring the status quo ante following the July violence on the Temple Mount.
Israel Should Maintain its Mediterranean Alignment, Despite Signals from Ankara
It should be made clear to Israel's partners in the eastern Mediterranean that any (unlikely) improvement in Israel’s relations with Turkey will not come at their expense. Despite some recent positive signals, Erdogan's basic orientation as an Islamist is bound to remain hostile.
Iran Must Not Be Allowed to Win the Nasty War in Yemen
Many have raised understandable moral qualms (and practical questions) about conduct of war in Yemen. Indeed, the coalition fighting the Houthi uprising should be more attentive to the loss of innocent lives. But allowing Iran’s proxies to win the war in Yemen would have dangerous political and far-reaching strategic consequences for Israel, the region, and US interests.
Biden’s Eastern Mediterranean Agenda
Establishing coherent US policy regarding brewing conflict in the eastern Mediterranean should be a Biden administration priority. By restraining Erdogan's ambitions, the US can add to stability and rebuild bridges with key European players and traditional US allies. The governments of Israel and Greece, in consultation with Egypt, should work together to advance this perspective in Washington.
Restoring American Bipartisan Commitment Towards Israel: A Moral Duty and Strategic Necessity
It is possible to restore American bipartisan backing for Israel. Therefore, it is important to avoid being too identified with President Trump, despite Israeli gratitude due to him for many of his policies. Bonds between Israel and American Jewry should be bolstered; bridges should be built to both sides of the aisle in Congress; and US defense establishment support should be solicited. All this, in view of Israel's need to influence decisions in Washington on matters vital to its future.
From the Ocean to the Gulf: Normalization takes Hold
Morocco has maintained open channels with Israel for many years, and it values the unique Jewish contribution to its heritage. A new pattern of normalization with Israel now extends from the Atlantic to the Gulf. Morocco’s coordination with the US also is a vital part of the emerging alignment of forces of stability in the region. Israel now should give this breakthrough a firm grounding in policies beneficial to both peoples.
The Collapse of Palestinian Grand Strategy
The Palestinian quest for an internationally imposed “solution,” which would not require them to negotiate a compromise deal with Israel, has failed. Palestinian leaders may attempt this again after Joe Biden becomes US president, but this will fail yet again, since the collapse of their past strategy is due to much more than the policies of the Trump Administration. Indeed, evolving regional and global realities allow for a new Israeli peace initiative, which can preserve the underlying principles of the Trump outline for peace.
A strategic event with a message to Iran and Biden
The taking out of the senior Iranian nuclear scientist is a blow to the Iranian leadership as much as the killing of Qassem Suleimani was. But it is also a signal to the next administration in Washington. The president-elect will not be able to deal with the Iranian nuclear project like just another diplomatic issue.
Israel’s Role in Helping the Biden Administration Set Policy Towards Iran
Israel should seek to persuade the Biden transition team not to offer Iran any premature concessions; it should outline what would constitute an acceptable, "stronger and longer" deal; find other international actors to support the policy suggested by Israel (possibly France and even Russia); and prepare a viable military option, both to strengthen America’s negotiating hand and as an option in the case of failure to reverse Iran's present course.
The Beirut Disaster: A Chance for a Systemic Change in Lebanon?
The current political situation in Lebanon is very problematic. Hizbullah enjoys full freedom of action in a country which long ago became dysfunctional. Hence the importance of lending support to the French effort to bring about systemic change in the Lebanese confessional order. Further descent into chaos and/or growing intervention by Turkey would be even more dangerous for Israel.
Israel, Greece, and the Turkish Challenge: Acute Testing Lies Ahead
Israel is unable to get directly involved in eastern Mediterranean hostilities, should they erupt. But it can and should cooperate closely with Greece in intelligence matters and arms acquisition and coordinate political action with Greece in Washington. The US stance largely will determine the practical scope of Erdogan’s ambitions.
Security Considerations and National Unity Require Jordan Valley Sovereignty
The American peace plan provides a historic opportunity to break the futile paradigm based on the 1967 lines and ensure Israeli national security for the long term. In terms of security – protecting Israel, stabilizing Jordan, and preventing a terrorist takeover of a future Palestinian entity – and given the supreme importance of national cohesion, it is imperative to focus on the Jordan Valley and the Jerusalem envelope.
Phased Territorial Implementation of the Trump Peace Plan
The Trump Plan is the most realistic route for progress towards the goal of “two states for two peoples.” Therefore, the Israeli national unity government should embrace the Trump plan in its entirety, including negotiations towards establishment of a Palestinian state, and at the same time act (in the first stage) to apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and strategically significant areas in the Jerusalem envelope, such as Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion. An Israeli consensus exists regarding these areas.
The Struggle for the Mediterranean: The EMGF Stake in the Libyan Civil War
Dramatic gains on the battlefield by the forces loyal to the Turkish-backed "Government of National Accord" in western Libya have given Erdogan a victory, which may endanger the future of the eastern Mediterranean. Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel must coordinate their policies in response. A tripartite Greek-Cypriot-Israeli summit should be held urgently to annul the GNA-Libyan EEZ agreement, to present an alternative map of the Mediterranean, and to encourage a robust reaction of the EU. The US must be persuaded to pressure Turkey revoke the EEZ MoU (while still letting Erdogan take pride in saving the GNA from ruin).
Implementing Elements of the Trump Plan: An Opportunity to Give New Life to the Two-State Option
Rejection of the Trump plan outright, denunciation of any steps towards its implementation, and adherence to the failed Oslo-era paradigm for peace – is certain to condemn all sides to continued conflict.
Social and Economic Reslience in a Crisis Situation: Strategic Implications
The resilence of Israeli society at a time of national emergency (the corona pandemic) has direct strategic and security implications. Despite the huge budgetary challenge, it is vital to maintain investment in advanced IDF military capabilities, because a nuclear confrontation with Iran is still possible.
Breaking the ‘everybody knows paradigm’
Even if the Palestinians reject Trump's peace plan, it still serves their long-term interests. False, undeliverable expectations – based on the assumption that "everybody knows" what Israel will be forced to concede – eventually need to give way to a more realistic paradigm, which in turn may lead to a better life for both sides.
The Struggle for the Eastern Mediterranean: Israel’s Role following the Berlin Summit on Libya
Everything short of a military confrontation needs to be done, though, to deter Erdogan from establishing a barrier diagonally across the Mediterranean, barring Cyprus, Egypt and Israel from connecting their gas infrastructure to Greece and hence to Europe.
Escalation with Iran and its satellites is not an empty threat
If it weren't for the Iranian regime's distress, it might decide to tread water until US President Trump was out of office. But its resources are limited, and the possibility that the ayatollahs might attack Israel out of desperation is very real.
Erdoğan is Not Invulnerable
The US, Europe and Israel can force a modification in Erdoğan's conduct on a wide range of issues, including his duplicity on Iran, support for Hamas in Gaza, subversion in Jerusalem, intervention in Libya, aggression towards Cypriot gas explorations, threats to Kurds of Rojava, and repression at home.
Towards an Eastern Mediterranean Security Alliance
Beyond Elounda, Beersheba, Cairo and Jerusalem.
The emerging informal alliance in the eastern Mediterranean is becoming increasingly significant. Egypt’s role, Erdogan's ambitions, energy resources, joint military exercises and coordinated emergency responses contribute to the alliance.
Crisis between Iran and the US: Implications for Israel
Israel needs to be prepared for potentially dramatic consequences, including rapid deterioration towards confrontation on all Israel’s borders. Resilience and readiness to act can serve to deter provocations by Iran’s proxies. Ultimately, only a credible military threat from Israel will indicate to friend and foe alike that in a showdown, Iran will be forced to back down.
Egyptian mediation in Gaza is a strategic asset by its own right
It is in Israel's interest to solidify the Egyptian role in Gaza, in the context of "conflict management" as a governing policy concept. Egyptian participation in the efforts to stabilize the situation in Gaza serves as an important component in the vital Egypt-Israel relationship. It also helps erode Hamas' pretensions of Jihad.
Reasserting Israel’s Deterrence in Gaza
It is necessary for Israel’s political and military leaders to readjust their conceptual framework concerning deterrence, and to engage the public in an open and effective dialogue on the deterrence equations. Also needed is a more specific and accurate capacity to strike fear into Hamas leadership by signaling both willingness and ability to destroy the assets that they value most.
Not Quite that Close: Israel’s Policy towards China
Israel's strategy toward China doesn't conflict with American interests; rather, it serves and reinforces them. Partnering with Beijing can help stabilize the Middle East. Partnering with Asian nations threatened by Beijing can help build a counterbalance to Chinese power.
In Praise of Conflict Management
Amidst violent events, it is easy to be tempted to seek decisive "solutions" to the Palestinian problem(s) – in both the PA areas and in Gaza – through drastic military action, or through equally dramatic concessions. But given the lessons of recent history, as well as the unpredictable nature of regional events, it makes sense to adhere to "conflict management" and piecemeal arrangements. This is not as a cowardly choice by hapless political and military leaders, but as a rational choice in irrational circumstances; even more so when the Iranian challenge looms larger than ever on Israel's immediate horizons. Patience has its own merits.
Gaza and the Middle East “Camp of Stability”
Israel's actions (or at times, inaction) concerning the future of the Gaza Strip cannot be isolated from the broader context of the struggle over the entire region's balance of power. Gaza’s dependence on Egypt, and perhaps Cyprus, constitutes a common interest of the “camp of stability” in the Middle East, to curb the influence of both Turkey and Iran, and to deny Abu Mazen the baneful position of a spoiler.
After Ahvaz: Iran’s Regime Faces the Consequences of its Subversive Campaigns
While Israel should steer away from overt identification with internal challengers in Iran, this is the time to urge the US. and other like-inded nations to ratchet up the pressure on the regime, explaining to the Iranian people the growing cost of their leaders' ambitions.
Netanyahu’s Visit to Amman: A Timely Reminder of Jordan’s Strategic Importance
Israel's national interest, and the broader patterns of cooperation among key regional partners in the "camp of stability," require close attention to the needs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. For decades, it has been, and remains, part of Israel's strategic depth.
Will Israel Once Again Turn its Back on Those Who Have Been on its Side?
Israel may soon face a dilemma. The "arrangement" with Russia as to the future of Syria may stave-off an Iranian presence but will pose an existential danger to the groups of rebels near the border – groups which have worked closely with the IDF to prevent direct friction with hostile elements on the line of contact. It is vital that the solutions to this challenge demonstrate to future partners that Israel does not turn its back on those who have assisted it facing a common threat.
Sensing a shift in power dynamic, Iran steps up shadow war with Israel
Col. Eran Lerman: Tehran and Hezbollah are trying to get a read on Israel’s new leadership. Bennett and Lapid are being tested.
Frustrated by Israel’s Refusal to Allow Qatari Cash Into Gaza, Hamas Threatens Violence
Col. Eran Lerman: New Israeli government has a different strategy for dealing with Hamas, and as things stand it will not allow suitcases of Qatari cash to enter Gaza.
In DC, Israel’s top spy and security wonk face a mission impossible on Iran
Dr. Eran Lerman: They can move the needle a bit, but their trip is unlikely to prevent the Biden administration from barreling towards a deal with Tehran.
Israel, Iran on collision course as Iran vows revenge for alleged Israeli cyberattack on nuke facility
Col. Eran Lerman of JISS: The premise among Israeli defense officials is that there may come a time when Israel will enter a major war. This is a risk Israel is willing to take if there will be no other way to stop Iran.
With gas alliance moored to Turkey tensions, Israel tacks toward energy security
Dr. Eran Lerman: The direction is to bring the Egyptians in, which will them resistant to Turkish blandishment, which seems to be increasing. Dr. Eytan Yanarocak: Erdogan is trying to mend the fences with Joe Biden.
Why can’t Netanyahu free Israelis from Gaza as easily as from Syria?
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: Russian President Putin has strong relationships with both Netanyahu and Syrian President Assad, whereas Hamas has unrealistic demands.
Rare visit to Israel by Egypt’s oil minister sends signals to Biden, Erdogan
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: The trip, following similar delegations of Greek and Cypriot leaders, is intended to show that regional allies are united and coordinated when dealing with foes and friends, including President Biden.
What signals is Biden sending about his Middle East policy?
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: Early signals have been “a mixed bag,” with some of the actions and statements very worrisome and others more positive.
The EastMed Dispute & its Implications for Israel, Part I
Dr. Eran Lerman and Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak of JISS analyze the factors roiling the Mediterranean region: the newly discovered gas resources in contested Exclusive Economic Zones, and the assertive policy of Turkey under Erdogan.
Israeli general calls for closer cooperation with Egypt against Turkey
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: Egypt and Israel are annoyed by Erdogan's ambition to establish a neo-Ottoman era, which is increasingly dangerous.
Hezbollah is coming under increased scrutiny in wake of Beirut blast
Dr. Eran Lerman of JISS: Hezbollah as too mired in domestic tumult to be able to be interested in a conflict with Israel at this point.
With UAE-Israel normalization, Trump's plan finally lifts off
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman of JISS: The UAE-Israel agreement is not simply of only bilateral interest, but, rather, significantly strengthens one of the regional “camps” over the others in their struggle that reaches across the length and width of the Mideast, from Yemen to Lebanon, Iraq to Libya.
West Bank annexation ends logger jam for peace, former NSC official says
Dr. Eran Lerman: Israel should move forward on annexation even though there are reasons not to act now, such as COVID-19, the growing Iranian crisis and the new challenge from Turkish intervention in Libya.
Do the benefits of annexation outweigh the costs?
Dr. Lerman and Prof. Inbar of JISS: Extend Israeli law to areas that Israel deems to be of strategic importance, like the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem envelope. extending Israeli law to areas that Israel deems to be of strategic importance, like the Jordan Valley
Major upheavals due to coronavirus pose challenges for US-Israel relationship
Dr. Eran Lerman of JISS: The next Israeli government will need to heal some
of the wounds to the best of their ability while sustaining bipartisanship.
Will annexation destroy Israeli-Jordanian peace, set kingdom aflame?
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: Annexation will not destroy the Jordanian and Egyptian governments, nor will it harm the peace treaties with Israel.
Attacks on Iranian targets in Syria serve Russian interests.
Col. Lerman of JISS: Down the road, what the Iranians want to do in Syria and what the Russians want to do in Syria are two totally different things.
Did Trump's Jerusalem Embassy Move Help Peace Prospects?
Trump moved the embassy under the pretense that the Palestinians had to recognize 'a reality' — one which dictates that the city belongs to Israel. Did this move help advance the peace process in the long run? Mitvim Institute Director of Development Gayle Meyers and Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security founder Eran Lerman debate.
Interview with Dr. Eran Lerman on Iran crisis.
With Israelis closely watching developments between the US and Iran, as well as Iran’s actives through its proxies in the Persian Gulf, TIP spoke with Col. in reserves, Dr. Eran Lerman, for his assessment of the situation.
'Israel, IDF decided to cross threshold not crossed before'
IDF Colonel (Res.) Dr. Eran Lerman tells Arutz Sheva 'Israel is trying to rewrite the rules of the game, with one clear emphasis.'
What’s the deal with the Gaza Strip?
The Israel Project interviews Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman of JISS. He explains why Israel’s policy regarding the Gaza Strip needs to change significantly.
Gaza rocket hits Israeli home injuring seven; Netanyahu cuts short Washington trip.
Dr. Eran Lerman of JISS: “When there was intensive rocket fire on the southern area that borders Gaza, Israel found a workable modus vivendi, involving transfer of Qatari money to Hamas. If Netanyahu now reacts aggressively, then people will say the blood of those in the center of the country is thicker than in the south. If he does not respond, then he’ll be criticized for not doing anything in the face of brazen provocation.”
Political Dynamics Raise Risk for Israel-Hamas Clash.
Dr. Eran Lerman of JISS: “The anti-Hamas demonstrations that indicate a level of frustration and anger not seen before. (The missile fire on Israel) is a familiar tactic to refocus the tension on the real enemy.”
So in Israel's election, who are the Russians for?
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: Nobody should fall off their chair at the thought of a foreign country trying to influence another country’s elections. It happens all the time.
Syria in Gaza, Without the Russians.
Dr. Eran Lerman: The Gaza Strip is a microcosm of what is happening throughout the region - a reflection of the broader conflicts throughout the Middle East.
After Hamas: Why Israel Fears A Power Vacuum in Gaza.
Dr. Eran Lerman: Israel’s reticence to cross the fine line between a “proportional response” and complete invasion is compounded by a lack of desire to re-occupy Gaza, which would be a huge political and economic burden and undoubtedly generate a major diplomatic backlash.
Israelis Reflect on Gaza: ‘I Hope at Least That Each Bullet Was Justified’
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: The death toll has to be measured not against some ideal of a nonlethal solution, but against Hamas’s purposes and what would have happened if they had breached the fence.
‘America Is Back’: U.S., Israeli Right Plan Next Move
Fresh off Iran deal and Jerusalem embassy wins, CPAC holds an illuminating call. Lerman and Weinberg from JISS say that the US and Israel are on the same page, with a sober understanding of the challenges ahead.
Can Trump and Netanyahu get Europe to push back against Iran’s ballistic missiles? Col. Eran Lerman: “Trump and Netanyahu cannot get backing on the nuclear deal but they can get Europe to take a stand on the missiles." World Israel News, 25.1.2018
Interview with Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman: "The main negative is that there is a sense that Trump is inconsistent, and that incoherent policy decisions have reduced America's standing in the world.”