Hard Questions, Tough Answers

Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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This week, Alpher discusses what was the new Netanyahu government thinking, trying to introduce segregated buses in the West Bank; President Obama’s critical remarks to journalist Jeffrey Goldberg and at a DC synagogue regarding Netanyahu’s attitude toward Israeli Arabs and his signaling that there would be no peace process initiative in the near future, as well as the US taking Israel’s side at a UN nuclear treaty review conference; whether we should categorize the Pope’s Middle East diplomacy as a form of Europe-based pressures; and US and UK proposals to deploy western ground forces to augment weak and fragmented Iraqi forces against IS - are there alternatives?

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This week, Alpher discusses whether Netanyahu’s new right-wing governing coalition-of-61 survive, or if it is possible that it will expand to include the center-left; why Labor leader Isaac Herzog angrily condemned the new coalition as a “circus;” how the US and the Palestinians are dealing with the fact that this new government is almost certainly not a candidate for a peace process; were US efforts to smooth ruffled Middle East feathers regarding Iran last week (when President Obama hosted Arab leaders from the Persian Gulf at a Camp David summit and he reassured them about American intentions toward Iran and offered more security coordination) in any way significant; and whether Palestinian economic progress promotes peace.

 

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 This week, Alpher discusses what is the core problem that prevents Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu putting a government in place, even one with only 61 ministers; assuming that within a few days Netanyahu manages to field a narrow right-religious coalition, what his political options are; how the Europeans and the region are reacting to the emerging new coalition; given repeated battlefield advances in Syria in recent weeks, what might an opposition victory by Islamist and other rebels in Syria over the Assad government and its Iranian and Hezbollah supporters look like, and is it realistic?

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This week, Alpher discusses Israel's next government, due for confirmation by Wednesday of this week; recent concerted warnings by high-level US officials that the new Israeli government must adhere to the two-state principle; do the violent mass demonstrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv by second-generation Ethiopian immigrants, protesting Israeli racism have any connection to Ferguson and Baltimore;

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This week, Alpher discusses whether there is any chance former US President Jimmy Carter will succeed in generating Palestinian unity where everyone else has failed when he arrives in the region this Thursday to mediate between Hamas and Fateh, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia; if Israel’s northern front is heating up or if recent incidents are connected to events in the Syrian civil war; how US involvement in the Saudi-led effort in Yemen, directed against Iranian intervention squares with the US-led nuclear talks with Iran; why Israel couldn’t observe the centenary of the Armenian genocide on April 24.

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This week, Alpher discusses when Israel will have a new government and what will it look like; how bad the regional situation could get given the increased chaos in the Middle East, with Russian missile supply to Iran and territorial gains by al-Qaeda in Yemen; where do the external powers fit in: the US, Russia, the EU and China; and why Israel is so concerned about the Russian sale of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

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April 13, 2015 - The region and the Palestinian issue

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This week, Alpher discusses how religious and tribal wars in Iraq, Syria, Egyptian Sinai, Yemen and Libya, and Obama and Netanyahu being at loggerheads over the Iran nuclear deal affects the Palestinian issue; how these events serve as a legitimate distraction, including the current fighting in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus; how they serve as an excuse for Israel to do nothing on the Palestinian issue; what is Qatar doing that should command our interest, including the Gaza aspect; why, despite these tensions, the IDF is facilitating the expansion of PA security forces’ area of responsibility; and April genocide memorials of the HOlocaust and the Armenian genocide, and the exploitation of Israeli fears.

 

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April 6, 2015 - The Iran nuclear agreement

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This week, Alpher discusses the positive aspects of the agreement announced in Lausanne last week from Israel’s standpoint; Netanyahu's response; what the agreement’s drawbacks are where Israel can make a case for a tougher approach; if the Iran agreement could affect Netanyahu’s coalition calculations; and is Netanyahu more likely now to be pressured by Obama and Kerry on the Palestinian issue.

 

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This week, Alpher discusses how significant is it that Saudi Arabia has put together a ten-nation Sunni coalition to fight Iran-backed Zaidi-Shiite forces in Yemen; how does one explain Saudi and Egyptian alarm, given that Yemen is a poor, dysfunctional backwater parts of which are virtually unconquerable due to geography; what is unusual about the participation of Turkey, Qatar and Sudan in the Saudi-led coalition; if a joint Arab army is a serious proposition; what the Saudi-led war effort has accomplished thus far and what strategic challenges remain; if a Saudi-Iranian proxy war could spread elsewhere in the Middle East; if there is really solid evidence of Iranian participation on the side of the Houthis in Yemen; the Israeli angle to the Yemen struggle; and if there is a Palestinian angle.

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March 23, 2015 - Israeli election aftermath: US-Israel relations

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This week, Alpher discusses lessons learned by Israel's center-left following its defeat to Netanyahu; Low likelihood of a Netanyahu-Herzog unity government; The state of US-Israel relations following Netanyahu's statements on the two-state solution and on Arab citizens' voting. 

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