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.

July 13, 2015 - The Iran nuclear deal; Israelis who entered Gaza

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This week, Alpher discusses what are the issues that bear the most intense scrutiny regarding the upcoming nuclear deal with Iran; why is there a commotion in Israel over two Israelis that decided of their own free will to cross the border into the Gaza Strip; how could they have entered unhindered? What was the reason that that the authorities initially acted indifferently to Mengistu’s flight in terms of their contacts with his family? And what will happen now?

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July 06, 2015 - The growing Sunni Islamist threat

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This week, Alpher discusses the strategic significance for Israel of last week’s sweeping Islamist attacks on Egyptian army installations in Sinai, near the border with Israel; the regional implications, shared by Israel with some of its neighbors and with Europe, Russia and the United States; defines Israel’s dilemma in strategic terms, and what the ramifications are; how West Bank-based Hamas and lone-wolf terrorism affect Israel’s relations with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas; and what this portends for the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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June 29, 2015 - Gaza

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This week, Alpher discusses the key dynamics from Israel’s standpoint of the ten-year anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from the Strip and a low-key interception and thwarting by Israel of a flotilla trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza; regarding the publication of a UN report on human rights aspects of last summer’s Gaza war, whether there is anything that Israel can constructively build on as it looks to future conflicts; whether it made sense that the Netanyahu government refused to cooperate with the Human Rights Commission and refused to allow the latest flotilla to approach the Gaza coast; and why the Gaza Strip is relatively quiet, with Hamas seemingly collaborating with Israel by pursuing the occasional more extreme Islamists who fire isolated rockets at Israel.

 

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June 22, 2015 - Oren, Netanyahu, and widening the gaps between strategic partners

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This week, Alpher discusses whether former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren is just trying to sell his new book, or are his attacks on President Obama part of some sort of larger plan to widen the gap between the two countries; if Obama knowingly and deliberately violated previously sacred bilateral principles of “no daylight” and “no surprises;” what the American Jewish angle is; what the likely ramifications of Oren’s attacks for US-Israel relations are at the current juncture.

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June 15, 2015 - Israel and the Syrian Druze

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 This week, Alpher discusses why Israeli Druze leaders are lobbying the government to help the Syrian Druze; does Israel have any special reason to get involved; if the Syrian Druze friendly to Israel; what Israel should do; and if there are other minority issues in Syria that should concern Israel.

 

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This week, Alpher discusses whether the past week’s BDS developments are a “strategic tsunami;” what does it mean for Israel that a pro-Kurdish party in Turkey has won enough votes to prevent the ruling AK Party from gaining a majority in parliament and President Erdogan from changing the constitution to give himself extensive executive powers; why the death of Tareq Aziz, foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Saddam Hussein, is a significant milestone in today’s Middle East; whether Assad’s regime is really threatened.

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This week, Alpher discusses Israel's near-suspension last week from FIFA and what are the broad strategic ramifications of this phase in the global BDS campaign against Israel; how the new right-wing Israeli government, with its heavy pro-settlement bias, can successfully confront this campaign; whether Tony Blair’s departure is a turning point and who will coordinate economic and infrastructure aid to the Palestinians and state institution-building in his absence; whether last Tuesday's firing of a rocket by Islamic Jihad from the Gaza strip towards Ashdod was a blip on the radar screen or an event with strategic ramifications; and the possibility of an Israel-Hamas dialogue.

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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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