The United States is Israel’s main and sometimes only ally, and American political and security support is essential to Israel’s national security. The United States is involved in all of the main issues challenging Israel: the Iranian nuclear program, Iran’s consolidation in Syria, the political process with the Palestinians, Israel’s relations with the Arab world, and other issues.
US internal and foreign policy has undergone a major shakeup since President Trump began his term in office, and the process of shaping policy on many issues is still ongoing. In internal affairs, polarization in American society is increasing, with the administration leading significant change on several matters. Questions remain about a possible connection between President Trump and his staff and Russian intervention in the recent elections. The two main political parties, preparing for the midterm Congressional elections, will soon thereafter begin organizing for the 2020 presidential elections.
In foreign policy, the President is implementing an “America First” policy that is whittling away the traditional foundations of American foreign policy of recent years, while abandoning many international obligations assumed by previous administrations and fostering increased conflict with allies in Europe. The President’s primary goals in foreign policy are a disarmament settlement for North Korea (following the summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore), reduced tension with Russia, and following the US exit from the nuclear agreement with Iran and the renewal of sanctions, efforts to reach a better agreement and/or overthrow the Iranian regime.
Given that the American administration is the leading global influence, a research program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) aims to understand the changes in American policy and their consequences for important foreign policy issues, particularly those affecting Israel’s national security. The program is designed to formulate and present policy recommendations to the Israeli government and to parties in contact with the US administration in order to influence its emerging policy on key issues in the Middle East.
Over the coming year, the program is likely to focus on the following research issues: American policy on Iran and its consequences for United States policy in Syria; the development of negotiations for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament and its effect on the handling of the Iranian question; the “deal of the century” on the Palestinian issue – its content, its announcement date (if any), and subsequent American policy on Israel, the Palestinians, and Arab countries; the substance of the Trump-Putin connection and United States relations with Russia and its effect on the administration’s policy in the Middle East; the impact of the trans-Atlantic conflict between the United States and its Western allies on US status and its room to maneuver as a superpower; the midterm Congressional elections and the preparations for the 2020 presidential elections; the possible significance of the close connection between Israel and President Trump for Israel’s standing among groups and individuals in the Democratic Party and the consequences if a Democratic president is elected; and how the various factions in United States Jewry confront the emerging tension between their commitment to support Israel (and its new ally, Trump) and the inclination of liberal groups to oppose the Trump administration.
Strategic Survey for Israel 2020-2021
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