This update covers the progress of the Reut Institute team tasked with reassessing Israel's security and foreign policy approach.
The reassessment effort
The reassessment effort is heading to its final stages and is now being written as final draft to be published in the beginning of 2012.
Our main conclusions:
On the brink of 2012, Israel is facing a challenge of reevaluating its national security ecosystem, i.e. the interface between its basic security and foreign affairs assumption and the rapid changes in its strategic environment caused by the events of the Arab Spring.
These events have left our strategic environment in turmoil, and contesting conceptual systems are trying to leave their footprint on the region: the Arab conceptual system, from which the Arab spring erupted; the Iranian conceptual system, promoting extreme Islam; the Turkish conceptual system of moderate Islam; and liberal Western conceptual influences.
In such an evolving reality, promoting national interest is a challenging and new effort. However, in confronting this reality the Israeli system has embraced a voluntarily passive attitude, which is anchored in three major areas:
- Collapse of the peace paradigm and the 'finality of claims' aspiration - In the midst of the Arab spring, Israel is witnessing the collapse of some of its partners to peace (mainly the former Egyptian regime) and some of its addresses of deterrence (mainly the Syrian regime).
- Growing difficulty to apply Israel's military might in the background of unstable alliances - The relevancy and legitimacy of the military response is being continuously eroded, just at the time when it might be most needed.
- Israel's voluntary passiveness rooted in Israel's "villa in the jungle" mindset - The negation of ties between Israel and its neighbors is becoming the majority stand, alongside the continuous fortification of the "Israeli villa".
Designing the response: Part B
In parallel to concluding the first part of this project (mentioned above), we have already started working on part B, which is trying to identify new ways to advance Israel's interests in this new evolving Middle East.
In the past two months we have held ten meeting with key figures from the security establishment in Israel, among them chief negotiators in several political process held in the past decade, the head of the strategic planning division in the IDF and others. We also took part in one of the IDF's scenario games and in several conferences.