Studies in national security and diplomacy by Israeli and international experts. These studies advance a defense and diplomatic discourse that is realist, Zionist, and based on the best conservative strategic intellectual traditions.
The US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue and Israel’s Security
Iraq is ripe for a nationalist, public-service driven politics where good governance is more important than identity. If Iraqi leaders, with US support, can move the country in a new direction, Iran’s ability to take advantage of Iraqi state weakness to threaten Israel will be drastically curtailed.
Coronavirus in the Middle East: A Review and Assessment
This paper reviews the responses of Middle Eastern countries to the spread of the coronavirus and highlights diplomatic and defense implications stemming from the situation. The assessment of JISS fellows is that the coronavirus crisis will not fundamentally change power dynamics in the region or alter the prevailing ambitions and policies of key countries.
Egypt’s Strategic Balancing Act between the US and Russia
Since 2014, Sisi and Putin have brought Egyptian and Russian interests into closer alignment. While Egypt wants to maintain its strategic relationship with the US, it desires to diversify its sources of support. It is in Israel's interest that America maintains its influence in Egypt, and that the common Egyptian and Russian effort in Libya will prevail over Turkey's influence.
The Situation in Iraq: Policy Implications for the West
A key aspect of the ongoing political crisis in Iraq is the anger directed at foreign meddling, and specifically, at the role played by Iran and its proxies. The IRGC Qods Force has penetrated deep into Iraqi power structures over the last 15 years. Weakening and possibly reducing this Iranian grip, through an appeal to Iraqi nationalism, will not solve Iraq's profound problems. Among other challenges, the Islamic State still has influence in some Sunni areas. Nevertheless, countering Iran's power is still an achievable goal, worth pursuing.
The Relationship Between Iran and Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Palestinian Islamic Jihad is ideologically, financially and militarily dependent on Tehran, and it plays an important role in Iran's war against Israel. The IRGC makes use of a range of institutions and charitable foundations that support PIJ. It is important that these be sanctioned by the US.
Rearranging the Board: Regional Power Dynamics after the Killing of Qassem Soleimani
Most of the regional players are wary an escalation between the US and Iran, a conflict which would be conducted across the Middle East and will have wide implications. If Iranian miscalculation leads President Trump to commit to a significant campaign against Tehran, countries wary of Iranian influence could change their posture, and become more explicitly in line with American positions and interests.
The Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty at 25: A Slightly Tarnished, but Still Important, Silver Anniversary
Twenty-five years after the signing of the Jordan-Israel peace treaty, the bilateral relationship is in a challenging phase, but nothing should obscure the crucial benefits strategic and security cooperation affords to both sides, and the centrality of the relations to each side’s national security.
Armed Opposition Groups in Iran
Armed opposition groups emerging from the Kurdish, Baloch and Ahvazi Arab minorities have stepped-up attacks on regime assets in Iran. Tehran is responding by acting against these opponents, in Pakistan and Iraq and further afield. But these insurgencies are not capable by themselves of calling the regime’s viability into question, because of their relatively narrow bases of support.
What Happens after the “Deal of the Century” is Tabled?
Whatever paradigm for peace is tabled by the Trump administration, no end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in sight. Managing the conflict for the long term – a somewhat fuzzy approach in need of constant reevaluation – is the only realistic way to do some good in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.
The Rise of Iraq’s Shia Militias: An Emergent Threat to Israel
The Iraqi Shi'ite militias form a single, numerous and increasingly able component of the military and paramilitary assets available to Iran in its efforts. They substantially increase the scope for Iranian disruption in the region, and may significantly increase Iranian capabilities in the event of a war on Israel’s northern front
Foreign Actors in eastern Jerusalem: A Challenge to Israeli Sovereignty in its Capital
Foreign actors have stepped-up their subversion of Israeli sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem. This includes covert and overt activities, both legal and illegal, ideological and concrete, in the civilian and security spheres. In response, the Israeli government must devise an integrated, inter-ministerial approach to this challenge; prevent illegal activities, especially illegal foreign financing; revise and rigorously implement the law which bars the Palestinian Authority from governmental activity in Jerusalem; and provide enhanced and accessible municipal services to Jerusalemite Arabs, instead of the foreign actors.
The New Emerging Energy Hub in the Eastern Mediterranean
The projected gas pipeline between Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy confirms that Israel's regional partnership has shifted from Turkey to Greece and that a new energy hub is emerging in the eastern Mediterranean. Yet this welcome geopolitical change has many opponents. Israel will need to act proactively and assess energy-related power struggles within the EU in order to actualize the pipeline.
Arab Neighborhoods Beyond the Security Fence in Jerusalem
A Challenge to Israeli National Security Policy.
The construction of the security fence around Jerusalem in 2005 created a civilian, sovereignty, and security challenge in the form of "no man's land" Arab neighborhoods located within Jerusalem but outside the security fence. No law and order obtains in these areas, and they bases of terrorist activity. This paper proposes establishing a joint administration of the IDF, Israel Police, Jerusalem municipality and the national government to increase governance and security in these neighborhoods, involving investment in education, culture, welfare and employment.
The Buildup of Forces for IDF Underground Warfare
Israel’s successful response to the underground threat has significantly limited the strategic abilities of its enemies, just as Israel has severely hampered the efficiency and purposefulness of rocket launches by terrorist organizations. This affords Israel room to maneuver if and when it decides to launch a wide-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip or Lebanon.
Memo to the Incoming Mayor of Jerusalem: Policy Guidelines for Eastern Jerusalem
Advice for Moshe Leon, the incoming Mayor of Jerusalem: Exercise maximum sovereignty and maximal fairness, while seeking to strengthen the unity of Jerusalem; implement Government Decision 3790 to invest NIS 2.1 billion in Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem; advance plans for Jewish and Arab building beyond the 1967 lines in one package; and make higher education and high-quality employment for eastern Jerusalem residents a priority.
Israel and the Gulf States: Some Things Change, Some Stay the Same
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Oman, the first overt visit in over twenty years by an Israeli prime minister to an Arab country that does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, is extremely significant. However, formal diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab states will not develop without an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. While it may view positively the steps of other Gulf states to increase the visibility of their ties with Israel and it may even encourage them, Saudi Arabia itself will not formal ties with Israel in the foreseeable future either.
The Iranian Policy Debate over the JCPOA: Assessing the Impact of Renewed Sanctions by the US
Sanctions could drive a wedge between Iranians who focus inwards and hardliners committed to Iran’s bid for regional dominance. It is clearly in the interest of those who seek to bring about a drastic change in Iranian behavior to drive this wedge deeper by supporting the sanctions and raising the costs of revolutionary adventurism.
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 “Moderate Sunni Camp” – Does it Really Exist?
In recent years there has been much talk in Israel and the US about the “moderate/pragmatic Sunni camp” as a potential regional ally for dealing with Iran and even for pursuing a “creative” solution to the Palestinian issue. However, this “camp” is not really a unified player, but more an expression of Saudi and Emirati aspirations for hegemony. There is also a lack of identity of interests and agendas between these states and Egypt and Jordan, which have long been important strategic partners of Israel. Although Israel should pursue any opportunity to strengthen ties with Arab and Muslim states,
The Logic of Israel’s Actions to Contain Iran in Syria and Lebanon
Israel’s opposition to Iranian entrenchment in Syria and Lebanon is twofold: To prevent Iran from building a beachhead against Israel through its proxies on Israel’s borders, and to impede development of Iran’s nuclear and long-range missile capabilities. Israel is absolutely determined and prepared to act forcefully against Iran, which could lead to a full-scale war. Israel must win this struggle against Iran, one way or another.
On Developing a Coherent US Regional Strategy Towards Iran, and Iran’s Likely Response
The US can and should develop a coherent region-wide strategy, involving US allies including Israel, to impede Iran’s ability to continue developing in ways detrimental to the region’s security. However, Iran is proficient in the practice of using proxies and paramilitary methods, as well as in the combination of paramilitary and political struggle. Its response to a US-led strategy to contain and roll back their influence is likely to focus on these areas.
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 at 70 in a Transformed Middle East: Threats and Opportunities
None of the new threats in the region constitutes a threat to the viability or continued existence of the State of Israel. Israel at 70 appears well equipped to navigate the instabilities, and even to benefit from them in certain areas.
Israel’s Defense Industries: From Clandestine Workshops to Global Giants
The growth of Israel’s defense industries is a story of success inseparable from the history of the State of Israel and the entire Zionist project. Israel's defense industries are a source of national pride – and rightfully so.
A High Price for our Blood: Israel’s Security Doctrines
In addition to the familiar military doctrine that was mainly crafted to meet the challenge of enemy states, Israel has an additional policy regarding threats that do not fit the full-scale war rubric: harassments inflicted by hostile non-state actors.
Relations between Israel and the USSR/Russia
Over the years, on and off, the Soviet Union/Russia has sought to maintain good relations both with the Jewish state and with Arab states. Today’s main Russian interest is strengthening its hold in the Middle East and boosting the restoration of its superpower status, while avoiding excessive confrontation with the West. Russia can be expected to take Israeli interests into account only to the degree that this jives with core Russian interests.
The Future of Israel Looks Good
Time is on Israel’s side. A review of the balance of power between Israel and its foes; of the domestic features molding Israel’s national power; and of Israel’s standing in the international community, validates the assessment that Israel has the dominant hand for the foreseeable future.
The Egyptian Military Buildup: An Enigma
The ongoing Egyptian military buildup is an enigma. It is an impressive effort in terms of budget, acquisition of modern weaponry, and training. But why is Egypt investing so heavily in its military? Israel has to be wary, even though a military confrontation with Egypt is not expected.
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 and the New Geopolitics of Energy
The geopolitics of energy is undergoing significant changes, because the oil weapon has weakened; Israel has emerged as a natural gas producer; and the Paris Agreement on the environment necessitates a reduction in oil consumption. To take full advantage of the situation, Israel should be export gas to Turkey and Egypt, not just to Europe.
Integrating without Changing: Military Service as a Catalyst for Haredi Integration in Israeli Society
The momentum of recent years must be capitalized upon to better integrate Ultra Orthodox Jews into the workforce and institutions of higher education. With sensitivity, Israeli institutions society and Haredi society can move towards fuller integration of the Haredi community, including in the army.
Iran in Multi-Dimensional Scrutiny
Iran is on the march, presenting a significant security challenge to Israel and to moderate Sunni countries. It is investing blood, figuratively and literally, in realizing its aspirations for a Shiite corridor to the Mediterranean Sea, in strengthening its influence in the region via militia forces, in building a nuclear option, and in threatening Israel.
Eastern Jerusalem: End of an Intermediate Era
The struggle for sovereignty in Jerusalem has transitioned from the "Jerusalem of Above" – in the sense of the political summits of Oslo and Annapolis – to the "Jerusalem of Below," in the sense of daily life in the city. Governance and sovereign rule in eastern Jerusalem requires a quantum leap in the level of services provided by Israel, alongside effective community policing efforts.
The Strategic Importance of Jerusalem
Israel’s control of Jerusalem provides strategic depth for the coastal plain; vitally links the coast to the Jordan River as Israel’s eastern security border; and ensures the city’s vibrancy. Maintaining a united Jerusalem is a national mission of existential significance.
Israel’s Security Dilemma: Prepare for Full-Scale War or a Series of Limited Wars?
Which type of war should Israel prepare for: Full-scale war against state armies, or a continued series of limited wars where the home front is the main target? Each of these two types of conflict requires a different force-building strategy and different economic investments.
After the Debacle: Obstacles and Opportunities for Kurdish Independence
The recent referendum on Kurdish statehood is an unmitigated failure and seems to have set the Kurds back once again. The Kurds have fundamental issues to sort out, both at home and abroad, before anyone will take a bid for independence seriously.