Center for Global Affairs

Israel in Its Region: Politics and Society, National Security and Foreign Policy

In the past decade, Israel has undergone a revolution in its relations with its region. From a state looking West towards Europe and the U.S., and seeing itself as a ¿villa in the jungle¿ in its immediate neighborhood, it has developed new, overt relationships with several states in the region, including regional powers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, through shared strategic and economic interests. Relationships with Egypt, and to a lesser degree with Jordan, its long-time peace partners, are increasing, including in the wake of the discovery of significant offshore gas deposits, which have fostered energy interdependence with these neighboring states, as well as between them and their other neighbors in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and Greece. Strategically, Israel is in the best strategic position since its inception. However, security challenges still abound. Israel has not been able to reach decisive victory in its ¿Thirty Years Wars¿ with Hizballah or Hamas, and the hybrid conflicts with these two enemies continue, with varying degrees of intensity, to challenge the national security system and disrupt normal life. The political process with the Palestinians is moribund, with little appetite or political ability on either side to move forward in the near future, but is still the main national security and political challenge in the long run. After twenty years of intense effort, Iran has been slowed in its path to a military nuclear capability, but is closer than ever; it also continues to threaten the stability of Israel¿s regional allies. But perhaps most importantly, Israel continues to be, even more than ever, a politically and socially divided country, with a politically engaged and active citizenry, a reality which is expressed in a dysfunctional and unstable polity.
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