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Middle East
By Udi Dekel and Noa Shusterman

The Abraham Accords will ostensibly serve to inspire peace and normalization agreements between Israel and additional Arab states. Indeed? Which issues are included in the agreement, and why? Why did the UAE and Bahrain decide to establish official relations at this time? What are the implications for the Palestinian arena? And what new challenges are likely to emerge? Insights from a discussion of experts held following the festive signing ceremony at the White House (Full Story)

Palestinian reading Quran at Al Aqsa Mosque. Wikpedia.
By Ephraim Lavie, Khader Sawaed, Maisalon Dallashi, Mora Deitch and Meir Elran

There has been a significant rise in COVID-19 infection rates in Arab communities in Israel.The month of Ramadan, which is commonly celebrated with large public gatherings, demands sharpened awareness and particular preparations regarding information dissemination, enforcement of health regulations, and urgent provision of health services and assistance to the Arab citizens. The positive engagement of the Arab public in the campaign against the pandemic highlights the need for a basic change of approach toward the Arab community, which is entitled to equal access to the social and health services enjoyed by Israel’s Jewish public. (Full Story)

By Amos Yadlin

The timing of President Donald Trump’s invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Chairman of the Blue and White alliance and Knesset opposition leader Benny Gantz to meet with him in Washington as part of the launch of the “deal of the century” was driven by the current political circumstances in both Israel and the United States. Beyond the political considerations, however, at issue is a key item on Israel’s national security agenda: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For this reason, it is important to analyze the plan’s potential significance, assess its implications for the political process, and weigh its prospects for advancing a resolution to the conflict. (Full Story)

Iranian pilgrims in Damascus. 
By Ephraim Kam

Against the backdrop of its military involvement in Syria, Iran has taken a series of steps since 2014 to reinforce its standing in Syria and Lebanon and enhance its military preparedness there, as well as that of its proxies – first and foremost Hezbollah. These steps are of two types. One consists of steps designed to influence Syria’s internal situation and bind it to Iran for the long term, including economic agreements on reconstruction, resettlement of Shiites in Syria, introduction of Iranian religious and cultural values into the country, and establishment of Syrian Shiite militias modeled on Hezbollah in Lebanon. (Full Story)

By Amos Yadlin and Yoel Guzansky

Saudi Arabia is challenged in nearly every dimension, on both domestic and external levels. Therefore, the recent turmoil in the kingdom, reflected in an unprecedented number of arrests of hundreds of officials, including key leaders of the economic, communications, and political sectors, may prove to be a development of historic magnitude. Will the political upheaval be perceived by Riyadh’s enemies as a window of opportunity to intensify pressure?Is the kingdom facing an era of instability? (Full Story)

By Udi Dekel 

The current race for control of territory in Syria now appears to be a competition between Iran and the United States, which have established two respective axes – with a vertical American (north-south) effort on the one hand, and a horizontal Iranian (east-west) effort on the other hand. In practice, this is another stage in the shaping of Syria in preparation for the day after the Islamic State. (Full Story)

By Phil Gordon, Amos Yadlin, Executive Director of  INSS and Ari Heistein, 

The recent dispute between Qatar and some of its neighbors is the most serious dispute among them in years, and has the potential to further destabilize an already turbulent region. But the crisis also presents a potential opportunity. If a united front that includes the United States and the leading countries in the Arab world can induce Qatar to contain its support for organizations that promote extremism and threaten regional order, it could help stabilize the region, limit the reach of the Islamic State, and isolate Iran. The United States, which maintains close relations with both sides, should play an active role in trying to bring its quarreling partners together. (Full Story)

 by Amos Yadlin

 Amos Yadlin

International attention has recently been diverted from the civil war in Syria and the global struggle against the Islamic State by the escalation in the confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The recent actions by Saudi Arabia in the international arena – including an energy policy that is in sync with the drop in oil prices, the war in Yemen, declaration of the establishment of a coalition of Muslim countries to fight the Islamic State, hints of measures in the nuclear realm, and the attempt to create a Sunni Arab coalition in the present confrontation with Iran – are indicative of an assertive foreign policy in all areas, against anyone perceived as threatening Saudi interests and national security. Saudi Arabia has become an active player, departing from the cautious and passive policy that characterized it until the outbreak of the Arab Spring.  (Full Story)

by Yoel Guzansky and Ephraim Kam

It has been a long time since Arab countries managed to unite for the sake of taking substantive action, especially military, in order to defend their own interests. However, Iran’s efforts to penetrate various arenas and expand its influence throughout the region are an ominous threat to at least some Arab states. (Full Story)

By Ephraim Kam

It was only a matter of time before the debate began about who was responsible for the failed strategic assessment about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Less than a year ago, few people knew about ISIS and the risks it represented. Suddenly, within just a few months, ISIS leads the list of threats of a long line of nations, beginning with the United States, and is considered a threat so severe that exceptional steps must be taken in order to confront it. (Full Story)

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