“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.
Main topics covered in this Publication:
- Israel and Lebanon Agree on the Maritime Border
- Final Sprint to Election Day
- The Clashes in the West Bank Continue
- Selection of Articles
Israel – Lebanon pending maritime border deal is a win win
(…) both sides will receive a fair deal. Lebanon will be able to claim it made no substantial compromise on the border line (…) the Qana gas field will remain mostly within the economic waters of Lebanon, and Israel will receive its share of the proceeds, should the field prove to be economically viable, from the French drilling company that will extract the gas. Israel therefore will lose some of the potential income from the Qana field but will gain security. (…) Lapid was too quick to celebrate the agreement which has not yet been signed, no doubt eying the upcoming elections. Too much bravado runs the risk of undermining the rare consensus reached between Nasrallah and the Lebanese government. (…) Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (…) has already announced, that should a deal be signed, he would not be bound by it should he succeed in forming the next government. This is a dangerous precedent in Israel’s international ties. The Likud leader is also endangering Israel’s security because Lebanon could use his remarks to back out of the deal until a new government is established and by then, many things could change both in Israel and in the region.
Ron Ben Yishai, YED, 02.10.22
To Boost His Campaign, Netanyahu Incites War With Hezbollah
Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has finally found a branch it can cling to for the election campaign – or more precisely, a gas rig: staunch opposition to the maritime border deal that Israel and Lebanon are close to completing (…). The disputed maritime areas, which most Israelis showed no interest in a few days ago, have suddenly become part of our sacred patrimony, to be defended at all costs, including a needless war with Hezbollah. Soon outposts will be built on rafts, with young people splashing in the waves, asking to be connected to the national power grid. (…) the agreement isn’t really about economics, it’s a diplomatic-security agreement. The value of all diplomatic accords is, of course, to find a solution by diplomacy, which includes geographic and economic compromises to prevent a violent conflict where everyone loses. In the case of the maritime dispute, the agreement with Lebanon aims to agree on a border and ensure Israel’s national security interests, which include stabilizing Lebanon, reducing the risk of an escalation with Hezbollah, and securing international guarantees. And, yes, also ensuring Israel’s economic interests. But not at any price, because that’s the nature of a compromise. (…) Netanyahu can promise that he’ll get Israel a better agreement, but it’s an empty promise. (…) Hezbollah’s goal was to turn the dispute into a permanent pretext for escalation. The agreement is designed to reduce the security tensions surrounding Karish without any connection to the question of sovereignty. (…) Israel has a critical diplomatic and security interest in economic stability in Lebanon, in committing Hezbollah to a border that it has already welcomed, and to ensuring peace, employment and profits at Karish. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is waging war with Hezbollah in the name of another centimeter of fake national sovereignty in the middle of the sea, and another shekel of theoretical profits that won’t exist if war breaks out there. Above all, Netanyahu seeks to ride the national ego to the polls, instead of supporting a strategic move that promises to bring a rare instance of mutual well-being to the region.
Noa Landau, HAA, 04.10.22
Netanyahu ought to look at himself before blasting Lapid over maritime deal
(…) According to various publications, it seems Jerusalem made significant compromises to ensure Beirut signs the deal. Some would say Israel “caved in.” It is very likely that the fear of a conflict with the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah was part of the decision-making process in Israel. As a result, the Jewish state is expected to lose a considerable amount of money. But one must also point out the benefits: The deal will stabilize the ties with Lebanon and will allow the Karish gas rig to operate in a quiet environment to provide a boost to Israel’s economy. In addition, it will form a Lebanese dependence on the gas fields and even serve as a faux peace deal – which is a major step. It is also likely that Hezbollah, which since 2006, has been very cautious about being dragged into an armed confrontation with Israel, will be even more mindful now. And yet, it is Israel that was forced to compromise again – out of the understanding that economic and security peace is better than dangerous principles. Lapid is not the first to give in to enemy’s demands. Former Israeli governments capitulated to terror groups’ demands and made compromises when human life was at stake. In the maritime deal case, no human life was at state, only money. And yet no one, including Netanyahu’s supporters, would want to see the State of Israel enter a military confrontation with Hezbollah, which would result in hundreds, if not thousands, of dead and severely damage the Israeli economy – far worse than any deal.
Avi Issacharoff, YED, 06.10.22
The maritime deal is a win-win, but Israel must be respected
The Israel-Lebanon maritime deal is in the interests of both countries. A maritime deal can help unlock energy security for both states at a time when the world needs new and secure natural-gas supplies due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. (…) Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has opposed Lapid’s decisions and has openly said the deal, which he views as surrender to Hezbollah threats, would not bind a new government that he seeks to establish after the November election. This could create another strange situation in which one Israeli government accepts the deal and the next tears it up, the way the US shifted tactics on the Iran deal. This would lead to tensions and accusations that Israel is then “crossing” the line and give Hezbollah an excuse to “resist” by firing rockets. Hezbollah lives on this fake “resistance” narrative, just as it pretends to need to fight for Mount Dov in the North. Now it will have a reason to exist to “defend” the coastline. Israel must be careful not to create a situation where it concedes too much and then the next administration goes back over the line and creates a possible conflict. We are a strong nation and must be respected. Lebanon should not think it can throw endless small hurdles up just before the deal is agreed to. (…) We should make a deal, but Lebanon should stop letting Hezbollah and Iran hold its hand all the way to the table. We can have secure borders and economic prosperity that will benefit Lebanon and ourselves.
Editorial, JPO, 07.10.22
Israel-Lebanon Deal Is No Peace Accord, but Could Strengthen Regional Stability
The impending signing of the maritime border agreement between Israel and Lebanon is shaping up to be a significant event in the two countries’ relations. While Lebanon carefully avoids any contact with Israel, and this is of course not a peace agreement, there is an opening here for a certain stabilizing of relations, while reducing the danger of the outbreak of another war between Israel and Hezbollah, a threat which has been hanging over the region for long years. (…) the deal in essence outlines a future in which two valuable gas rigs stand opposite each other, in the Israeli Karish field and the Kana field in Lebanon, with the arrangement backed by American guarantees. In Middle Eastern terms, that’s a fairly solid support structure. (…) The Lebanese side has committed itself to the agreement, without further reservations. Jerusalem will be sending a message in the following spirit to the U.S. and Lebanon: We are committed to the agreement, but there are still procedural steps required that may push ratification to the end of the month. (…) Should the matter be postponed till after the elections in Israel, the chance to sign may be missed, as the term of Lebanon’s president also expires at the end of the month and it is unclear how long the appointment of his successor, whose signature is required to ratify the treaty, will take.
Amos Harel, HAA, 12.10.22
Israel-Lebanon Agreement A Harbinger Of Stability
Israel’s maritime boundary agreement with Lebanon (…) is expected to stabilize relations between warring neighbors. (…) it demarcates exclusive economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, offers financially broke Lebanon a golden opportunity to eventually extricate itself from its grave economic crisis, and defuses the threat of an armed clash between Israel and Hezbollah. (…) European countries, eager to find alternatives to Russian gas supplies since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, will be pleased to buy gas from the Israeli and Lebanese sites. This is not an agreement between Israel and Lebanon — which have been in a technical state of war since Israel’s creation in 1948 — but rather separate but related agreements between Israel and the United States and Lebanon and the United States. Lebanon preferred this approach because it is far from politically or psychologically ready to normalize relations with Israel due in large part to Hezbollah’s opposition. (…) Until very recently, in the absence of an Israeli agreement with Lebanon, Hezbollah threatened to disrupt drilling at Israel’s Karish field. Had this scenario unfolded, Israel would have reacted harshly, and a third war in Lebanon may well have erupted. (…)
Sheldon Kirshner, TOI, 13.10.22
Israel’s maritime deal with Lebanon is a crucial security move
(…) the deal being signed by the Lapid government directly opposes the interests of numerous parties in the opposition – interests that are, simply put, against any sort of diplomatic effort that would make the current coalition emerge victorious. Prime Minister Yair Lapid pushed back against criticism from the opposition, calling it “poisonous lying propaganda… meant for political means from people who never saw” the agreement. (…) Despite Lebanon not recognizing the State of Israel, the deal – in its sideways manner – creates a clear maritime separation between the two states. That creates the potential for some form of understanding between the two in the future. (…) The US, however, is expected to send Israel a letter of guarantee that, in addition to committing to the details of the agreement, will say the US will ensure Lebanon’s income from the reservoir will not reach Hezbollah in accordance with US sanctions. (…) With all of this taken into account, it becomes clear that the opposition to the deal with Lebanon is not one based on policy, but rather rooted purely in politics ahead of the November election. This deal will benefit Israel from an economic, security and diplomatic standpoint. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 14.10.22
2. Final Sprint to Election Day
The Real Difference Between Netanyahu and Lapid
For many years the ultra-Orthodox, the Haredim, have refused to teach their children the core curriculum. The issue took on a political twist when Yair Lapid announced in Rosh Hashanah interviews that he wouldn’t give the ultra-Orthodox an exemption, even if it cost him the premiership. Benjamin Netanyahu, in contrast, promised to increase school funding for the Haredim even if the community’s children didn’t study math, English, science and civics. The difference between the two is clear. Netanyahu doesn’t care what happens to Israel, neither economically nor socially. He only cares about himself. He aims to return to power at any price to get his corruption trial canceled. If the price means keeping the ultra-Orthodox illiterate and unemployed, endangering Israel’s future, so be it. Lapid, on the other hand, wants the things every normal prime minister wants: the good of the country, stability and a future. So he won’t give in on core studies. This is a critical issue. The ultra-Orthodox community’s percentage of the population is increasing, but most Haredi men don’t work. (…) Every secular working family, via the taxes it pays, carries on its back an ultra-Orthodox family that doesn’t work. (…) Taxes will be raised to finance the additional yeshiva students, and good secular people will move abroad. They simply won’t agree to pay the high taxes. This process will get worse and worse until the economy collapses and Israel declines into dark poverty characteristic of the developing world. (…) Judaism supports general education and work (…). They’re doing it out of self-interest. They want money, prestige and power. They want the entire community to vote as one for the ultra-Orthodox parties, and this can happen only when everybody is ignorant, illiterate and dependent on the funding that the Haredi officials obtain. The rabbis and officials realize that the moment ultra-Orthodox young people acquire an education they’ll be able to work, make a good living and become self-sufficient. They’ll no longer depend on the officials’ graces, so they’ll vote for other parties. (…)
Nehemia Shtrasler, HAA, 01.10.22
Israeli parties prepare for crucial battles ahead of November 1 elections
(…) These are the messages the various parties intend to convey in the hopes of winning over voters – and perhaps bringing an end to what seems like a never-ending political turmoil in Israel: The Yesh Atid party, led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, intends to implement what it calls “a campaign of hope” to counter opposition’s “campaign of fear, hate, and incitement.” (…) The party’s campaign is expected focus on tackling the cost of living, violence against women, and building a safety net for senior citizens. (…) The slogan Netanyahu plans to promote in this election camping is – “It’s either right-wing or Palestine.” This refers to Lapid’s alleged willingness to join forces with the Arab parties. The National Unity Party, led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, is (…) expected to continue its attempts to convince the public that only Gantz is capable of putting together a stable government. The National Unity Party’s slogan is set to focus on warning the public against a “November nightmare,” alleging a situation in which Netanyahu returns to power and brings with him far-right lawmakers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich to the government. Yisrael Beytenu, headed by Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, is constantly reminding us it will join forces with neither Netanyahu, nor the ultra-Orthodox parties in the formation of the next government. Liberman himself claims he has no problem with the Likud as a party, but as long as it is led by Netanyahu – he will refuse to align with it in any way. (…) Besides its loyal secular Russian-speaking voters, Yisrael Beytenu will likely target other sectors of the Israeli society: high-tech workers, soldiers, new immigrants, senior citizens, and those seeking to become first-time homeowners. The campaign focuses on governmental stability, restoration of personal security, a free market economy, and reduction of social gaps. The Labor Party, with Merav Michaeli at its helm, has adopted the slogan “Fighting for the truth,” using masculine and feminine conjugations of the verb. (…) Among the issues Michaeli will likely promote are running the light rail train in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area on Shabbat, a reform to keep women protected from violence as well as aid packages for young families. The Jewish Home, headed by Ayelet Shaked, is not expected to pass the electoral threshold, but will call on the right-wing voters to help form a more moderate coalition. The campaign will push to address the issue of the loss of governance in Israel and call for Shaked to return to head the Justice Ministry. (…) Left-wing Meretz, led by Zehava Gal-On (…) will emphasize the faction’s importance in the battle for stopping Netanyahu from returning to power. Gal-On, according to the party, has the ability to unite anti-Netanyahu factions and make sure they form a stable and functioning government. (…) The United Arab List, led by Mansour Abbas, seems to have won over many in the Arab sector with the help of their slogan “The closest to influence,” and is expected to win as many as seven seats. Still, the party is aware that it will need to work hard in order to convince the Arab citizens to go out and vote, with the turnout in the sector is predicted to be one of the lowest in history. The Hadash-Ta’al List, recovering from the break-up from the Balad faction, are going with the motto “Influencing with respect,” and aiming to gain support from the Arab youth. The alliance, headed by Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi, is promoting extreme stances towards the current Israeli leadership and emphasizing Palestinian nationalism – as part of their attempt to differentiate themselves from the United Arab List. Shas and the United Torah Judaism party are both expected to focus on two central topics during their campaigning – the cost of living and the state’s Jewish identity, which they claim has taken a significant hit during the Bennett-Lapid administrations. (…)
Sivan Hilaie, Elisha Ben Kimon, Kobi Nachshoni, Einav Halabi, YED, 02.10.22
The far-left is no better than the anti-Zionist Arab parties
One campaign mantra of the camp of Israeli opposition and Likud leader Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu ahead of the Nov. 1 Knesset election is that interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid will not be able to form a coalition without the Arab parties. (…) But there’s another party that warrants at least as much, if not more, negative attention: Meretz – without which Lapid also has no chance of coming even close to a 61-mandate majority. Like Ra’am, Meretz is polling at four-to-five seats. In other words, each is straddling the electoral threshold. Meretz, too, moderated its rhetoric when it became part of the now-defunct coalition. This is probably why its members (…) elected Zehava Gal-On to replace Nitzan Horowitz as party leader. It was an ironic turnaround. Horowitz brought the party out of backbench exile and into the glory of government, serving for the past year and a half as health minister. Gal-On, on the other hand, resigned five years ago from her post as chair of the far-left party, reappearing on the scene to resume her coveted spot. (…) She’s never been one to hide her aversion to Jewish settlement and sympathy for the “plight” of Palestinian terrorists “under Israeli occupation.” (…) having Meretz in a position of power in the Jewish state is far from amusing. It’s time for Likud to spend a little less time targeting Ra’am for derision and invest a bit more in reminding undecideds of this particular peril.
Ruthi Blum, IHY, 11.10.22
Whatever happened to electoral reform?
(…) Israel has a long history of attempts to reform the electoral system (…). There were proposals to have, what has become known as the most common electoral system throughout the world, a mixed electoral system, in which some of the Knesset members would continue to be elected from national lists, while others would be voted through a constituency system – a multi member constituency system – not a single member system such as that in the UK (…). There were arguments about whether the Knesset representation should be half-half (…) or two thirds from the constituencies and only a third from the national list; whether politicians could stand for both the national lists and the constituencies, or only for one of them (…); how groups such as the Haredim or the Arab communities would preserve their interests (…). Academic think tanks simulated the outcome of elections (…) under these different conditions. Despite the intense debate at the time, nothing came of it. But in two areas there has been electoral reform, the raising of the minimum electoral threshold, and the attempt at direct elections of Prime Minister. (…) Even today, the lower threshold of 3.25 percent is much lower than in many other democracies but at least it means that no party can gain access to the Knesset with fewer than five seats, which explains why the splinter parties of the right or the left are encouraged to form pre-election coalitions and run together if they want to ensure that they will be elected. (…) Netanyahu has occasionally recommended going back to the direct elections system, but he does not have the support of the Knesset lawmakers, not even the majority within his own party – somewhat reminiscent of the Labour Party of the time refusing to support Ben Gurion’s proposals for electoral change back in the 1950’s. For the best part of twenty years, electoral reform has been off the agenda. One would have thought that given the present situation of five elections in just over two years, and the possibility that if no clear coalition block of at least 61 results from the ballot box, there could even be a sixth round of elections, that a new national debate would have emerged concerning the need for electoral reform. (…) It is about the need to produce a result which will create a clear majority and which, in turn, will stabilize the government and allow it to manage the affairs of the nation for 4-5 years without the leaders having to devote all their time and energy to holding the coalition together. (…) Israel is a highly opinionated democracy and that is definitley a good thing. But its’ political system remains immature for as long as it does not provide for long term (4-5 years at a time) stability of government. It is time for the topic of electoral reform to return to the public agenda and for the think tanks to come up with proposals which will allow us to enjoy a system of governance which provides greater stability in the long term.
David Newman, TOI, 14.10.22
3. The Clashes in the West Bank Continue
The Next Yom Kippur War Is on the Way
(…) the next Yom Kippur is on the way. It will cost us blood, it could take generations, but believe me, the day will come. After 75 years of wars and victims we haven’t stopped a moment to ask: Maybe we are wrong? Maybe there’s another way? We didn’t ask. The arrogant don’t ask, they’re sure of the rightness of their path. They enjoy wallowing in the righteous excrement of their existence. It stinks, but it’s familiar and pleasant. And if they move – it’s to the right, to the abyss. (…) how little has changed between us and the Arabs: the same sickening self-justification, the same childish mistakes that go from generation to generation like an ancient sacred tradition. The reasons can be summarized thus: We are stronger, more moral and more right. They are primitive and we are high-tech. Period. And so we deserve it. We deserve that “they don’t like us.” We deserve it because “six million,” because “God promised,” because we’re the “few against the many,” and because they neglected the land and we built it. Those same claims that haven’t changed for decades. And why should they change? What did we do for them to change? After all, this is what we heard at home, we learned in school, we were instructed in the army and we saw on television. We are so brainwashed that it is beneath our dignity to learn their language and to know their culture. Those who try to understand are traitors. Rabin, who tried to understand, paid with his life. We won’t change our stand even if reality proves that we should. In 1973 the lookouts saw the Egyptians training to cross the Suez Canal dozens of times. Dozens of times they warned, dozens of times we answered that it was “just an exercise.” That was our arrogant concept (“they wouldn’t dare”). Even when the Egyptians were already climbing the fences we didn’t move. A thousand articles can be written about the powder keg we’re sitting on. It won’t help. The concept is the concept. We forgot everything and we learned nothing.
Yossi Klein, HAA, 04.10.22
The answer to Palestinian terrorism: elections
Settler leaders have a solution to the increased disputes in Judea and Samaria: Operation Defensive Shield II. For them, it is clear that the other side only understands force and that only this will bring calm to the region. Wrong. Operation Defensive Shield did not stop Palestinian terrorism in 2002. The scope of terrorism right after the operation was similar to the scope just before it. The Second Intifada was only stopped after Mahmoud Abbas was elected as president of the Palestinian Authority in early 2005 and under his explicit order. The return of the prospect of a peace process might contribute more to calming the area (…). Israel holds the key to returning to the process but it is currently being pulled towards a magnet of Palestinian violence, initiated by extreme Palestinian forces. (…) Abbas will have no choice but to call for elections, in which he will not necessarily be the winner. Following these elections Israel will be able to examine which direction the Palestinian leadership is facing. The consent of the chosen leadership to open political talks with Israel would have to be accepted by us with open arms. A Palestinian decision not to do this and even possibly to annul the Palestinian commitment to the Oslo Accords, might lead Israel into a unilateral move that will release it from direct control over Judea and Samaria and over the one million Palestinians who live there. The current situation, where our sons are returning to the refugee camps, to the city centers and markets, and clashing with young Palestinians, must stop. Operation Defensive Shield 2 will only exacerbate the violence and its price might be extremely high. (…)
Yossi Beilin, IHY, 07.10.22
Broad West Bank operation won’t nip terror wave fueled by social media
(…) Social networks — and especially TikTok — encourage youths to take action, sometimes even without any ideological background or affiliation with extremist groups. Among other things, this is the result of the loss of parental authority and trust in the leadership — the institutional (Palestinian Authority) or that of the terror organizations (Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad). The frequent terror attacks are also a result of the large availability and distribution of firearms in the West Bank. The Lions’ Den, a new Palestinian terror group is an example of that. Several local young criminals obtained firearms, carried out attacks, and became a source of inspiration and imitation to other young Palestinians. And when interrogated by Shin Bet, they often admit they didn’t act out of ideological, political, or religious motives, but rather from the desire to become a social media star. (…) Israel refrains from calling this an “Intifada” and prefers using such terms as “terror wave” or “escalation” since most of the Palestinian population is not involved nor encourages it because it interferes with their daily lives and harms their livelihood. (…) Unlike previous escalations in the West Bank, flooding the region with IDF soldiers won’t dispirit the Palestinian youth from carrying out attacks. On the contrary, the constant clashes with the Palestinians only result in more casualties on their side that only serve to further fuel the conflict, which may ultimately lead to a real Intifada. On the other hand, there is some truth to the claim that if the IDF were to halt its daily operations and nighttime raids, Palestinian militants — who have already experienced clashes with security forces — will not lay down their weapons. Instead, they will seek confrontation with Israeli security forces in other places, such as checkpoints, the West Bank border barrier, and other flashpoints. So what can Israel do at this stage? First, impose lockdowns and blockades on Palestinian villages whose youth propagate terror and incitement on social media. In addition, lockdowns on Nablus and Jenin, and random checkpoints on roads to Hebron and other areas may result in controlled clashes with Palestinian militants. The move will probably make it hard for thousands of Palestinians to earn a living, but as we previously learned, it will also result in those uninvolved in terror at least trying to restrain the youth. At the same time, the IDF must minimize its counterterror activity to reduce clashes and Palestinian casualties. (…) Israel should also realize that as long as it insists on controlling some 2.6 million Palestinians, not only would the terror wave not stop, it will worsen. (…)
Ron Ben-Yishai, YED, 09.10.22
The Palestinians must lay down their weapons to achieve peace
(…) Just as throughout Israel’s nearly 75 years of existence as an independent state, there is a clear way to end this cycle of violence, and that is for the Palestinians to stop their campaign of terror and incitement against Israel and the Jewish people. As hard as it is to believe, sometimes it really is that simple. (…) What has been going on in the West Bank in recent weeks is an example of what happens when the Palestinian Authority neglects its responsibility and decides to allow terrorist groups to thrive, to accumulate illegal arms and to operate with impunity. (…) while the PA claims it is concerned with the ongoing violence and the activities of armed groups that do not heed its authority, President Mahmoud Abbas has not been taking harsh action to rein in those armed men. Many of the gunmen are said to be affiliated with Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian leadership is particularly worried that the current security deterioration could prompt the IDF to launch a large-scale military offensive similar to 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of gunmen in Jenin and Nablus. Israel might in the end need to launch such an operation. If Abbas truly wants to prevent that from happening, he will need to be more forceful and take more aggressive steps within the PA and the cities it controls to stop the violence. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 11.10.22
4. Selection of Articles
Nuclear Talks With Tehran
Is it time for a new approach to deal with the Iranian threat?
Tough times are ahead for decision-makers in Jerusalem. As the clock ticks in Washington, Brussels and Tehran, counting down to Iranian nuclear breakout capability and international pressure intensifies to accept a flawed and much weaker agreement than the one signed in 2015, Israel must choose between bad and worse options. On the one hand, it adheres to its policy of rejecting any agreement with Iran, on the other, it faces the growing realization that no real alternatives exist to an agreement that would halt Iran’s nuclear race. In the meantime, the futility of military measures to stop Iran’s rush to nuclear weapons is becoming increasingly clear. Lacking new ideas, and consistently harping on the same policy messages formulated a decade ago, Israel’s bargaining position and its ability to influence the state of play have been deeply eroded. (…) although Israel has won many battles, it has lost this war. (…) Iran is currently approaching the status of a “nuclear threshold state”; its ability to break through to nuclear weapons depends to a large extent on its leaders’ decisions alone, not on developing additional capabilities. Should Iran choose to leap forward and enrich enough uranium for a bomb, it can do so at its leisure. (…) The current crisis point ostensibly presents Israel with a prime opportunity to reexamine its strategy against nuclear proliferation. However, criticism of existing policy on the Iranian nuclear project and discussion of shifting realities and their future implications are strictly limited at the political level. (…) What Israel needs now is nothing short of a conceptual overhaul of the fundamental assumptions underpinning its policy on the Iranian threat. It needs a new and different strategic forum that will pose new questions we must ask even if we do not wish to do so. (…) Along with last-minute attempts to scuttle this stage, we are required to ask what changes Israel should make to its strategic policy in case of Iranian nuclearization. A political-strategic discussion on Israel’s political moves in this grim but not impossible reality is imperative at this point. (…) An essential part of the discussion should be reserved to practical steps. It should examine the potential to incorporate international and regional systems as partners in a coordinated political campaign against shared Iranian threats. (…) Israel has already begun this discussion, mainly in the field of air defense, but there is still great untapped potential for expansion. In this context, a joint strategy is vital for outlining possible scenarios, such as an increase in Iran’s regional military activity or the threat of a regional arms race. (…) The challenge facing Israel in rethinking and adapting its Iran policy to the new reality is one of the most complexes it has ever faced. (…)
Gil Murciano, JPO, 02.10.22
HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: October 2022.
Dr. Paul Pasch,
Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel