Between Domestic Volatility, Regional Frictions and External Threats
Just days after Israel's President Isaac Herzog reassured the Biden administration about the state of democracy in Israel and praised the importance of bilateral relations with the US in his speech before the US Congress, the Knesset passed a portion of the controversial judicial reform shortly before its parliamentary summer break in late July. The debates surrounding the reform, which its opponents view as a threat to the democratic nature of the state, along with protests from various groups, have significantly heightened societal polarization in Israel over the past few months.
Additionally, security experts have increasingly warned of risks to Israel's internal and external security. These concerns were seemingly confirmed when, in the course of the last few weeks, more and more reservists declared their refusal to serve - in protest against the government's plans. Fears of a progressive erosion of social cohesion and consequently diminishing national resilience, which is considered by Israelis as an essential component of both internal and external security, are finding their foreign and security policy equivalent in the tense security situation on Israel's northern border, an escalating spiral of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a more aggressive settlement policy under the current government, as well as closed doors for Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington and in the Arab Gulf.
Israel's Prime Minister, who in the past was attested by supporters and opponents alike to have an excellent sense of foreign and security policy – often referred to as "Mr. Security" – has propelled himself into a predicament in this area as well; his hardline political coalition partners have played a not inconsiderable role in this. An overview of the current regional foreign and security policy developments highlights the various areas of tension.