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IMAGO / IPON

Israel's regional foreign and security policy

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.

IMAGO / UPI Photo

Israel's Judicial Reform

Despite massive opposition, the Knesset passes a core element of the controversial judicial reform

On July 24, the right-wing coalition government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, voted to abolish the so-called “reasonableness clause”. Until now, the clause allowed the court to declare government decisions, or even the appointment of ministers, as "unreasonable" and thus prevent them. The opposition boycotted the vote and left the plenary amid loud protest - symbolically the vote went 64:0. Now, the passed law, which is a core element of the controversial judicial reform, restricts the Israeli Supreme Court's ability to act.

IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Israel Between Uproar and Paralysis

A part of the controversial judicial reform has been approved by the Israeli parliament following the first reading

In the early hours of Tuesday, 11 July 2023, a part of the controversial judicial reform – the Reasonableness Standard Bill” – has been approved after its first reading at the Knesset. Supporters of the now-initiated bill are hopeful that this will end what they deem an unjustified and undemocratic interference of the Supreme Court in government decisions. Critics, however, consider this step a threat to the separation of powers. Protests erupted inside and outside the Knesset as a result of the first reading of the bill. It should be noted that the demonstrations against the policies of the government, especially the judicial reform, now continue into their 27th week. A vibrant civil society consisting of different societal sector and political streams has been taking to the streets every single week since the beginning of this year to peacefully demonstrate for democratic values. Over the course of the past few weeks, these protests have been taking on a new dimension in the form of substantial road blocks and with tyres being burned. The response of the security forces, on the other hand, is growing increasingly firm. However, the protests shed light on other aspects as well. While the judicial reform might be a primary factor, these events also indicate the extent to which Israeli society is divided.

The Latest Publication of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation Is Out

The document sheds light on an inseparable part of society.

This poll is a product of the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation at Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University.

Middle East and North Africa: The New Evolving Security Architecture

A publication by KAS and the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University

A product of our long-standing and close collaboration with the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University and a natural continuation of our joint Hiwar Forum for Intra-Regional Dialogue, this special Spring 2023 issue of Orbis focuses on the new evolving security architecture in the Middle East and North Africa. This volume brings together researchers from Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Israel, the United States and Europe. These scholars provide insights into the key developments in the MENA region in the context of waves of popular uprisings, toppled regimes, regional competition, violence, suffering, power shifts in the region, the repercussions of the pandemic but also the Abraham Accords, a decisive step towards ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. The contributors include Joshua S. Krasna, Brandon Friedman, Omar Al-Ubaydli, Farah Bdour, Hadar Lasry, Mohamed Chtatou, Cinzia Bianco, Corrado Cok and Lindsay J. Benstead.

Environmental Challenges: Catalysts for Regional Conflict & Cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean

A publication by KAS, HMS and the University of Haifa

The Eastern Mediterranean region has been gaining in geopolitical significance in recent years. This is reflected in overlapping claims of sovereignty and other aspects creating preconditions for further conflict in the region. Just like other parts of the world, the Eastern Mediterranean will have to address the challenges of climate change such as rising sea levels, extreme temperatures further exacerbating regional water shortages, droughts and forest fires along with water pollution. All of this will require increased cooperation, which has already occurred over the course of the past two years through dialogue and careful rapprochement.

Reuters / POOL New

Israel im Schatten der Justizreform - aktuelle Herausforderungen für die Demokratie

Steht die Gewaltenteilung auf dem Spiel?

„We are no longer in a political debate, but on the brink of constitutional and social collapse“ - Israel am Rande eines verfassungsrechtlichen und gesellschaftlichen Zusammenbruchs - so der israelische Staatspräsident Jitzchak Herzog in einer emotionalen Fernsehansprache vom 12. Februar, die die Dramatik der aktuellen innenpolitischen Situation in Israel verdeutlicht. Anlass dieser - für israelische Staatspräsidenten eher ungewöhnlichen - Rede an die Nation war die andauernde Debatte um die von der Regierung Benjamin Netanjahu geplante Justizreform. Diese hat das Land in eine historische Verfassungskrise und Krise der inneren Verfasstheit gleichermaßen gestürzt und stellt die Demokratie vor große Herausforderungen.

Reuters / Ronen Zvulun

Netanjahus Tanz auf dem Vulkan

Israel nach den Wahlen

Wahlen werden am Wahltag entschieden - eine simple Tatsache, die sich in Israel mit den Parlamentswahlen bewiesen hat. Alle Umfragen und Prognosen hatten auf ein knappes Wahlergebnis gedeutet oder gar eine politische Pattsituation vorausgesagt. Das Resultat der Parlamentswahlen vom 1. November ist allerdings deutlicher, als viele Experten vermuteten. Benjamin „Bibi“ Netanjahus Likud und seine ultraorthodoxen und rechtsextremen Wunschkoalitionspartner konnten eine stabile Mehrheit von 64 von 120 Knessetsitzen erringen. Insbesondere das rechtsextreme Wahlbündnis „Der Religiöse Zionismus“ konnte seine Mandate verdoppeln. Das Wahlergebnis überrascht nicht wirklich, hält man sich die demografischen und gesellschaftspolitischen Veränderungen Israels der letzten Jahre vor Augen. Allerdings ist das Ausmaß des Wahlsieges des ultrarechten Bündnisses - gekoppelt mit dem signifikanten Absturz der politischen Linken durch das Ausscheiden der grünen Meretz aus dem Parlament - ein Schock und Weckruf zugleich. Kann „Bibi“ die Geister, die er rief, kontrollieren? Diese Frage ist entscheidend, wenn es darum geht, den Charakter der israelischen Demokratie zu bewahren und Schaden vom Ansehen Israels in der Welt abzuwenden.

Reuters // Ronen Zvulun

Wahlen in Israel

Demokratie auf dem Prüfstand

In Israel finden am 1. November 2022 erneut Knesset-Wahlen statt. Es sind die fünften Wahlen zum israelischen Parlament innerhalb von nur drei Jahren. Diese politische Instabilität ist Resultat einer Überlagerung des ohnehin zerklüfteten politischen Systems durch die Frage, wie man sich zum Langzeitpremierminister und derzeitigen Oppositionsführer Benjamin Netanjahu positioniert. „Wie hast Du’s mit Bibi [Netanjahu]?“ bleibt die politische Gretchenfrage in Israel. Übergangspremierminister und gefährlichster Gegner Netanjahus, Yair Lapid, versucht indes den Nimbus des Staatsmännischem, den ihm sein Amt verleiht, für den Wahlkampf zu nutzen. Über die politische Zukunft Israels dürfte die Wahlbeteiligung entscheiden – nicht zuletzt die der arabischen Israelis oder Palästinenser mit israelischer Staatsbürgerschaft. Der Wahlkampf wird mit kompromissloser Härte geführt und die politischen Führungsfiguren stehen nicht nur vor der Mammutaufgabe, eine Koalition zu schmieden. Auch die Risse innerhalb der israelischen Gesellschaft treten immer deutlicher zutage und wo Kompromiss und Annäherung geboten wäre, scheinen sich Abgrenzung und Ablehnung durchzusetzen.

Kemal Aslan, Reuters

Different and Yet the Same?

Prospects for a New Start in Israeli-Turkish Relations

Relations between Turkey and Israel are thawing. Historic visits by foreign ministers and Israel’s president have highlighted the desire of both countries for rapprochement. However, this process may be impeded by domestic politics and the Middle East conflict. Turkey, as the driving force, has a strong interest in an energy partnership, whereas Israel is approaching the Turkish charm offensive with a degree of caution. However, if the rapprochement succeeds, both Brussels and Berlin should be supporting this process.