World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Security and Peace in the Middle East: The US, Israel, Iran and its proxies (370) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU 22, 2.30 pm-4.30pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Bar-Ilan University (Israel)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Jonathan Rynhold

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Two of the central strategic issues in Middle East are the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Iranian drive for nuclear weapons. There has been much speculation as to the relationship between these two issues and correspondingly on how the international community should deal with them. This panel will address various elements of this situation. Three papers will focus on the Arab-Israeli arena; two on the role of the U.S. in peacemaking and one on the settlements issue. The remaining two papers focus on strategic aspects of the relationship between America's ally Israel, and Iran's proxies Hamas and especially Hezbollah. The Hexbollah case is especially pertinent, for it is in Lebanon that the Arab-Israeli conflict has become most intertwined with the strategic challenge posed by Iran.

Chair:Jonathan Rynhold,Bar-Ilan University (Israel)

Paper presenter: Dr Jonathan Rynhold, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, “Is the ''Pro-Israel lobby'' a Block on Reaching a Comprehensive Peace Settlement in the Middle East”
It is often argued that the key to strategic stability in the region is the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and that the U.S. can and should impose a comprehensive settlement on Israel and its neighbors. The paper addresses this question in light of recent claims that the reason the U.S. does not do this is because of the power of the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington. It argues that this cluster of propositions is wrong. The main reason that the U.S. does not seek to impose a settlement relates to the 'balance of interests' between the U.S. and the parties to the conflict. For the parties themselves the details of any agreement are of much greater importance than they are for the U.S., hence they are willing to pay greater costs than the U.S. is willing to impose in any confrontation over the core permanent status issues. For the U.S, maintaining a pro-American balance power in the region, especially in the Gulf where is Iran is a major force, is its most important interest, not the details of any Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Paper presenter: Boaz Vanetik, Ben-Gurion University, Israel, “The March of Folly: The White House Middle East Policy in 1973, as a Catalyst for the Breakout of the Yom Kippur War”
This paper will focus on the part that was played by the Nixon administration in the failure of efforts to bring about an Israeli-Egyptian settlement before the Yom Kippur War. Documents recently declassified in the United States and in Israel support the possibility that the behavior of the White House in 1973 not only failed to prevent war, but catalyzed its outbreak. Kissinger's ‘stalemate policy’ undermined any peace initiative that surfaced if it was not in accordance with Israel’s position. Consequently, the Egyptians understood that the US was not interested in promoting a peace process, pressuring Israel to withdraw from the Sinai and perhaps also from other territories occupied in the Six-Day War. This assessment prompted the Egyptians to abandon diplomacy and attack Israel (together with Syria) in October 1973.

Paper presenter: Professor Zaki Shalom, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, “The Implications of Jewish Settlement in the West Bank on the Realization of the Two States for Two Peoples vision”
This paper examines the nature of Jewish settlement in recent years beyond the Green Line, the factors that shape its dimensions, and its political-strategic implications. The primary question is whether and to what degree the continuation of Jewish settlement in its current format is likely to foil the establishment of two states for two peoples. The disengagement process explicitly proved that political-military and internal Israeli circumstances can bring about dramatic decisions on radical changes in the Jewish settlement map in the West Bank, and in this regard, massive evacuation of settlements and their residents. But if settlement expansion continues at its present pace, let alone broadens beyond today's projection, prospects will begin to collapse for realizing a political accord between Israel and the Palestinians in the spirit of President Bush's vision of two states for two peoples, which in recent years has also been embraced by Israeli governments.

Paper presenter: Dr Shlomo Shpiro, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, “Sub-state intelligence: Hezbollah's Intelligence Power in the Middle East “
In summer 2006 the world was surprised to see how the Hezbollah, a small, lightly armed militia in southern Lebanon, withstood the assault of the mighty Israeli army for five weeks and was able to keep northern Israel under barrage of rockets right up to the last day of fighting. Hezbollah intelligence possessed accurate and extensive information on Israel’s military forces and infrastructure, Israeli forces groped in the dark as to Hezbollah's positions and plans. Hezbollah’s intelligence arm developed from humble beginnings in the early 1980s to an extensive and sophisticated collection and analysis mechanism. This paper explores the development of Hezbollah intelligence with special focus on its activities against Israel and the United States, and its close relationship with Iran. It assesses the role of intelligence in the organization's military and political success.

Paper presenter: Clive Jones, Professor of Middle East Studies and International Politics, Leeds University, UK, “Keeping the Bomb in the Basement: Israel and the emergence of ''Holistic'' Deterrence”
Tensions with Iran have led to a renewed interest surrounding Israeli conceptions of existential deterrence, conceptions that all too often remain informed by Cold War paradigms based on constructs of bounded rationality. By contrast, this paper argues that existing models of deterrence remain limited in their explanatory power when examining how links between sub-state actors and the state determine deterrence postures. In the case of Israel, this paper argues that the perception of Hizbollah and Hamas as integral to Iranian conceptions of extended deterrence increasingly deny a distinction to be made between current sub state security challenges and ''existential threats''. Accordingly, this paper argues that amid the furor surrounding the Goldstone Report, the massive use of firepower by Israel in Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (2008/9) cannot be seen in isolation from the wider Iranian challenge: rather it is symptomatic of the emergence of an instrumental or ''Holistic'' approach towards deterrence that seeks to deny operational space to Tehran's regional ambitions.