Middle East Briefing

New Israeli Government: More Convergence Than Division

This week we would like to share with you an article written by David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Project on the Middle East Peace Process. The article can also be found here.

The opinions expressed in the Middle East Briefing do not necessarily convey those of JCPA


On March 31, Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu will be sworn in as Israel's next prime minister almost a decade after the end of his first premiership. Although American media has focused on the cabinet inclusion of Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, the more important policy news is Ehud Barak's continued tenure as defense minister. While Barak and Netanyahu come from different sides of the political aisle, they appear to share common views on Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Barak, a familiar figure to senior U.S. officials, may also help Netanyahu avoid escalating tension with Washington.

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Operation Cast Lead and International Law

This week we would like to share with you an article written by Robbie Sabel of the Institute for National Security Studies. The article can also be found here.

The opinions expressed in the Middle East Briefing do not necessarily convey those of JCPA.


A combination of factors has led to particular interest in issues of international law in the study of Operation Cast Lead. These factors include the amorphous political status of the Gaza Strip; the problem of application of the rules of war to asymmetrical warfare between a modern military and urban guerrillas; the role of the UN Security Council; the involvement of European and other states in attempts to resolve the dispute; the intensive involvement of NGOs in Gaza; the widespread coverage by the international press and particularly Arab TV; the increasing involvement of judicial discourse in Israeli society and the IDF; and attempts by Palestinian organizations and their supporters to brand Israel's campaign and tactics as illegal. The article that follows reviews several international law issues that are particularly related to the operation in Gaza.

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Israeli Elections Result: Implications for Middle East Peacemaking

This week we would like to share with you commentary from Michael Oren and David Makovsky from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Michael Oren is a renowned scholar of Middle Eastern military and diplomatic history, a visiting professor at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, and a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. David Makovsky is a senior fellow and director of the The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Project on the Middle East Peace Process. The article can also be found here.

The opinions expressed in the Middle East Briefing do not necessarily convey those of JCPA.


David Makovsky:
Israel is entering uncharted waters. For the first time in Israeli history, the next prime minister may not be the leader of the party that won the most Knesset seats. Although the centrist Kadima Party, led by Tzipi Livni, won the most seats, she is unlikely to cobble together the necessary sixty-one seats to form a center-left coalition. If Binyamin Netanyahu -- leader of the Likud Party, which garnered the second most seats in the elections -- can show President Shimon Peres that he can form a coalition and Livni cannot, then Netanyahu may become prime minister. Netanyahu's prospects appear better because right-leaning parties have a ten-seat advantage over the left-leaning bloc. Other configurations, however, cannot be ruled out, such as a rotation agreement between Kadima and Likud for the premiership, as was the case with Labor and Likud between 1984 and 1988.

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Preliminary Assessment of Israel's Operation Cast Lead

This week we would like to share with you an article written by David Makovsky, senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The full article can also be found here.

The opinions expressed in the Middle East Briefing do not necessarily convey those of JCPA.


On January 18, Israel announced its military withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, following the three-week offensive Operation Cast Lead. Although no definitive judgments can be made at this point -- post-conflict arrangements are concluding while scattered gunfire is still occurring -- Israel has made several tangible gains during the Gaza campaign in contrast to the inconclusive outcome of the 2006 war with Hizballah.

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Middle East Briefing Archive 2008

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Middle East Briefing Archive 2006

Middle East Briefing Archive 2005

Middle East Briefing Archive 2004

Middle East Briefing Archive 2003

Middle East Briefing Archive 2002