Situated in a region of uncertainty and changing allegiances, Israel is well positioned to thrive in 2018. However, that potential is not without risks and obvious challenges.
The Institute for National Security Studies [INSS] is addressing Israel’s opportunities for advancement in the region and beyond, as well as being the target of hostility at its 11th annual conference, being held now in Tel Aviv.
In his notes to conference participants, INSS executive director Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin wrote that there is “now a window of opportunity that must be seized in order to shape the future of the state.”
The former head of IDF intelligence referred to Israel’s strategic balance being largely positive, aided by the country’s cutting-edge technology and innovation, coupled with its expanding global political and economic ties. Israel’s warming relationship with the Trump administration in the United States has altered almost beyond recognition, compared with the rather frigid personality clash between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US president Barack Obama.
In addition, Israel has been able to reach out to formerly hostile countries – such as Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf States – and they have begun to cooperate against mutual threats, particularly a militant Iran and its regional aspirations. Furthermore, Israel’s defensive position is also bolstered by the IDF – an advanced military force, with superior intelligence, combat and cyber capabilities.
The conference will, through presentations of highly acclaimed experts and political officials, discuss topics germane to both Israel’s domestic and foreign policy realms. Some panel discussion highlights will likely include: A “Jewish and Democratic” State and Issues of National Security; Israel’s Stability in the Coming Decades; Friend or Foe? Regional Perspectives on Israel; What Lies Ahead for the Middle East? Strategic Implications for Israel; and The IDF: Preparing for Challenges of the Future and Violence in the Arab Sector.
It is subjects such as these that will highlight the dichotomy that Israel faces – opportunities for advancement and cooperation, coupled with significant challenges within its strategic environment.
In Yadlin’s view, “The most immediate threat concerns Israel’s northern front, where the proliferation of long-range and precise weaponry and the Iranian military presence pose considerable risks; in its efforts to contain these threats, Israel is faced with the possibility of uncontrolled escalation to full-scale war.”
The uncertainty regarding the future of the Iran nuclear deal; US plans for containment; and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) form part of the framework in which these issues will be discussed. The conference will tackle topics related to the internal and external difficulties caused by the continuing diplomatic impasse with the Palestinians and the prospects for rebooted peace talks.
Keynote speakers include Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman; Education Minister Naftali Bennett; Public Security Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan; leader of the Israeli Labor Party Avi Gabbay; NATO assistant secretary-general for political affairs and security policy, Alejandro Alvargonzález; acting assistant secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, US Department of State, Ambassador David Satterfield; German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel; head of the Hatnua Party in the Zionist Union Tzipi Livni; and other Israeli political figures.
Other speakers include former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon; Baka al-Gharbiya Mayor Morsi Abu Moch; CEO and founder of Darkenu, Polly Bronstein; New York Times
columnist Thomas Friedman; Israel Supreme Court Judge Salim Joubran; chairman of KKR Global Institute, former director of the CIA, David Petraeus; and leader of the Arab Community Program at Yad Hanadiv, Shuruk Ismail.
The conference promises to be an invigorating two-day investigation into the opportunities and challenges facing not only Israel on a domestic and international front, but also the wider region and outside actors invested in its potential success. The impressive list of speakers is also testament to the INSS’s growing influence in the realm of strategic affairs.
Watch the conference live on the INSS website www.inssconference.com, and on the INSS Facebook page. For more information on the conference visit: www.inssconference.com
This article was written in cooperation with the INSS