Strategic Survey for Israel 2019-2020

Edited by Itai Brun, Itai Shapira, INSS, January 2020

With permission read full article at INSS.

At the core of the strategic assessment for 2020 stands the tension between Israel’s evident strength and its success in various fields, and the possibility that this positive state of affairs will prove temporary and fragile. This tension stems from a series of factors that in the coming year could lead to a large-scale conflict and even to war, and involves Israel’s approach to a series of substantive national security challenges: Iran’s increasing audacity – on the nuclear issue, in its efforts at force buildup in Syria and other arenas, and in its efforts to station operational capabilities against Israel; Hezbollah’s efforts to achieve large-scale precision attack capabilities; and Hamas’s efforts to ease the pressure on Gaza and influence the parameters for an arrangement with Israel. The targeted killing of Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani by the United States in early 2020 lends added weight to the assessment regarding the potential for escalation. The event creates a new context and might become a strategic turning point. These and other challenges are unfolding against the backdrop of an ongoing political crisis in Israel and strategic competition between the world powers, which in turn generates functional difficulties in the international system. The unequivocal conclusion from these developments is the need for Israel to formulate a new strategy.Contents

2020 Strategic Overview: Growing Challenges to Israel’s Current Strategy/ Itai Brun and Itai Shapira 2

Chapter 1
The International System: Superpower Competition and Functional Difficulties/ Assaf Orion, Eldad Shavit, Shahar Eilam, and Rotem Oreg 14

Chapter 2
The Regional System: Struggling for the Shape of the Middle East/ Sarah Feuer, Itai Brun, Gallia Lindenstrauss, Oded Eran, Yoram Schweitzer, Ofir Winter, Yoel Guzansky, Remi Daniel,
Eldad Shavit, and Ari Heistein 18

Chapter 3
Iran: Defiance and Audacity, alongside Internal Challenges/ Sima Shine, Raz Zimmt, and Emily B. Landau 26

Chapter 4
The Northern Arena: Toward a Large-Scale Conflict/ Udi Dekel, Carmit Valensi, and Orna Mizrahi 31

Chapter 5
The Palestinian System: Weakened and Close to Escalation/ Udi Dekel, Noa Shusterman, and Anat Kurz 37

Chapter 6
Israeli Society: Challenges to Societal Resilience/ Meir Elran, Carmit Padan, Pnina Sharvit Baruch, Sason Hadad, Zipi Israeli, Shmuel Even, and Yehuda Ben Meir 44

Chapter 7
The Operational Environment: New Capabilities of the Radical Shiite Axis/ Itai Brun and Itai Shapira 49

Conclusion: Net Assessment and Policy Recommendations for 2020/ Amos Yadlin 54