Iran’s Strategy for Control of Syria

February 18, 2019

Recent statements by a number of Israeli officials have claimed a degree of success in Israel’s efforts to contain and roll back Iran’s entrenchment in Syria. But while Israel’s tactical successes are certainly notable and impressive, the big picture is that Iran’s influence and strength in Syria continues to deepen and expand. Iran’s efforts are taking place at three levels: below the official Syrian state structures – in the arming and sponsoring of Iran-controlled paramilitary formations on Syria soil, within the Syrian state – in the control of institutions that are officially organs of the regime, and above the state, in the pursuit of formal links between the Iranian and Syrian regimes.

Civil War? The rift between Fatah and Hamas, as seen on social media

February 15, 2019

Michael Barak surveys the online discourse surrounding the ongoing feud between the Fatah and Hamas movements, which has been characterized by public disputes between supporters of the respective movements. The tension is causing public concern about the possibility of further deterioration into civil war.

Arab Politics in the 2019 Election Campaign

February 13, 2019

Arab society in Israel is not a homogenous political or ideological community, but rather — a mosaic made up of four main streams: Arab-Israeli (Zionist); Arab-Jewish non-Zionist (communist); Islamic, and Nationalist. The Arab-Israeli stream is represented in Jewish– Zionist political parties (on the Right and Left), and the other three are currently represented by the Joint List. The latter three streams all emphasize the Arab community’s Palestinian identity, but differ in certain aspects of their world views. Whereas the nationalist stream stresses the Palestinian nationalist component of the Arab minority’s identity, the Islamic stream stresses the religious (Islamic) component, and the Arab-Jewish stream believes in Arabs and Jews joining forces in social activism.

The Middle East economy in the last decade

February 11, 2019

The population of the Middle East has increased by nearly over 100 million, or 22 percent in the ten years preceding 2017. The population of the Arab states rose by 83 million or a quarter, while the three non-Arab states increased more slowly. Israel’s population rise was close to the Middle East average. Egypt, the largest Arab state in demographic terms, experienced a rise of 20 million or nearly 26 percent. These increases, which were among the fastest in the world, placed huge strains on the economies of the region. They required more food supplies in a region that is chronically short of water, investments in the infrastructure, and fast economic growth to generate jobs.

Special Elections Survey

February 8, 2019

The Jewish public is divided over the question whether the prime minister should resign if indicted by the Attorney General, pending a hearing; 52% of the Jewish public believes that Israelis living abroad should also have the right to vote. 52% of the Israeli public (49.5% of Jews, 66% of Arabs) believes that Prime Minister Netanyahu should resign if the Attorney General recommends that he be indicted, while 35.5% believe he can continue serving as prime minister.

Strategic Survey for Israel 2018-2019: A Collection of Articles

February 6, 2019

The articles in this volume explore the primary significance of the changes in the Middle East over the past year, and focus on the areas of intensifying friction in the region and their international context. Contrary to previous volumes in the Strategic Survey for Israel series, which raised many diverse issues, even those without immediate ramifications for Israel, this volume covers domestic and external events that have a clear and immediate impact on the country’s national security.

Why Are There so Many Political Parties, and Why Does This Fragmentation Obstruct Governance?

February 4, 2019

Israeli society is extremely diverse, with multiple political divisions that run along ideological, ethnic and religious fault-lines. Israel also has an extreme proportional system of government, which grants representation in the Knesset to any party that passes a low 3.25% threshold in the election that takes place in a nationwide single district. The result of these two factors is political fragmentation. On the one hand, this is a good thing because minorities in Israel are adequately represented in parliament. However, representation comes at a price in terms of political stability and good governance.

France’s Role in Syrian Reconstruction, and the Implications for Israel

February 1, 2019

After almost eight years of brutal violence, the Syrian civil war is nearing a conclusion. The ultimate outcome of this conflict and the subsequent reconstruction of Syria are of utmost importance to Israel, which will need to rely on the actions of other parties in the arena with interests similar to its own. France is one such party. The French strategic interest in Syria spans decades, and since the outbreak of the civil war and the rise of the Islamic State, France has paid renewed attention to Syria.

Israel’s Dilemma over Syrian Reconstruction

January 28, 2019

In the coming years, Syria will focus on tending to its war wounds while continuing to serve as a springboard for strategic threats posed by Iran and its proxies against Israel. It is in Israel’s interest that Syria rebuild its infrastructure, experience economic recovery, and benefit from a stable central government. However, there is inherent tension in Israel’s position.

The Ten Leading Challenges Facing the New IDF Chief of Staff

January 18, 2019

On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi assumed his position as the 22nd IDF Chief of Staff. From a security perspective, his tenure begins in a stormy, unstable period, when the IDF’s strategic and operational environment continues to be marked by vast uncertainty.

Two Democracies for Two Peoples

January 14, 2019

If in the past, we tended to speak about tensions in Israeli society in terms of Arabs and Jews, religious and secular, or Right and Left, the findings of the Israel Democracy Institute’s 2018 Israeli Democracy Index, released last week reveal a major new split: the split over Israeli democracy. In today’s Israel, the fundamental question that defines the state—what is democracy?—is becoming an increasingly significant bone of contention.

How Israel swims against tide of worldwide water crisis

January 11, 2019

Israel has solved its water crisis! That’s a typical headline about Israel’s world-leading smart water management and advanced water technology. As I sipped freshly desalinated Mediterranean water at the world’s largest seawater desalination plant, the brilliance of Israel’s many-pronged approach was as clear as the H2O in my paper cup. But if residents, farmers and tourists in the Holy Land never worry about the tap running dry, that’s only because Israel invests huge amounts of money and brainpower to stay one step ahead of a worsening worldwide water crisis.