Fallout of Halting Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia

(Defense News) – UK asserted that cluster bombs used in Saudi Arabia against Houthi rebels in Yemen were restricted to purely military targets, and that no civilians were targeted. Nonetheless, the outgoing Obama administration is halting a planned weapons sale of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabia due to its concerns over civilian casualties while paradoxically continuing to refuel Saudi-led coalition planes.

This is a reversal of the US Congress’s decision in November 2015, to sell smart bombs to Saudi Arabia to limit civilian casualties. Other sales included laser guided munitions such as Guided Bomb Unit (GBU 10) Paveway II, UAVs, JADAM and as well as air to ground precision guided missiles used on the American built Saudi F15 fleet.

For Saudi Arabia, avoiding collateral damage is central to effectively countering the Houthis. Brigadier General Ahmad Asiri, a spokesperson for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defense expressed that Saudi Arabia’s strategy in Yemen is imitating the US-led coalition’s strategy in Mosul and Riqqa of avoiding civilian casualties by relying upon local intelligence while relying upon air power rather than ground troops. This however creates a problem as Yemen’s National Army intelligence that Saudi Arabia relies upon is poor. To avoid civilian casualties Saudi Arabia and the UAE are in need of a greater intelligence network on the ground. This requires Saudi Arabia to reverse its doctrine that relies heavily upon airpower and commit to greater ground troops.

Human Shields

It is not only Saudi Arabia’s usage of air power that has contributed to civilian casualties. Houthi rebels along with units loyal to Saleh have launched rockets and shells from residential areas and constituting human rights violations. On November 10 2016, General Al-Asiri asserted that Houthi militias held up 34 humanitarian aid ships carrying urgent medical assistance for over six months. The UN Security Council’s established Panel of Experts on Yemen reported to the UN Security Council that in the Taiz province, the Houthis had violated international humanitarian law by concealing fighters and equipment in or close to civilians in Al Mukha in the Taiz Governorate “with the deliberate aim of avoiding attack”. Houthi-Saleh forces in Aden and Taiz were documented attacking “medical facilities, schools and other civilian infrastructure, and using snipers positioned atop buildings to target people seeking safety, medical care or food.”

A Human Rights Watch report in January 2016, similarly accused Houthi forces of placing its armed fighters in a school for the blind in Sanaa, saying this placed vulnerable children “at grave risk”. Echoing this, Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri revealed that on Nov 9, 2016, Saudi Arabia killed 30 Al Qaeda operatives in the Eastern side of Al Mukalla where numerous Al Qaeda operatives had embedded themselves in the densely populated areas.

For this reason in 2014, when Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah condemned the war in Gaza, he but did not criticize Israel’s military operations against Hamas’s usage of human shields. Israel has accused Iran’s proxy Hamas from storing and firing rockets from schools, hospitals and mosques in order to raise the prospects of collateral damage. Iran’s Al Quds force along with Hezbollah are training Houthi militias to conduct the same tactics in densely populated areas.

Military Assistance

In early 2016, the U.S. military significantly reduced the number of US military personnel coordinating with the Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign resulting in increased likelihood of the usage of cluster bombings which would increase civilian casualties. Such measures also provides Iran the initiative to increase its support to the Houthis with impunity.

Both the US and UK can assist Saudi Arabia to dramatically lower civilian casualties in Yemen by increasing its intelligence cooperation with Saudi Arabia combined with offering precision guided munitions and pilot training. Reversing Houthi advances and Iranian involvement in Yemen can only be achieved with increased UK and US involvement leading to a greater humanitarian outcome.

Read Full Article: Defense News

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

U.S Counter-Terrorism Strategy

(Janes Islamic Affairs Analyst) – Having extended its strategy to the broader Muslim community, the US government’s approach to counterterrorism has become inconsistent. Barak Seener examines the consequences of some of the US administration’s foreign and domestic policy decisions.

The current United States administration’s approach to counterterrorism has been inconsistent. On the one hand, following its domestic policy review in December 2009, the White House extended its Afghan strategy to the broader Muslim world in order to “intensify regional diplomacy to enable a political process to promote peace and stability”. However, this move coincided with an increased number of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against Al-Qaeda’s and its affiliates’ leadership in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. President Barack Obama’s administration also ordered a troop surge in Afghanistan and reduced its armed forces in Iraq. The government engagement with the Middle East is marked by numerous strategies ranging from more frequent UAV attacks to increased intelligence sharing with states in the Middle East, and diplomatic engagement with Iran.

Moreover, the US government adopted a unique feature of engaging with local actors, despite the latter’s extremist Islamist ideology. This applies to the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The US, caught by surprise by the Arab Spring, found itself drawing spurious distinctions between political and terrorist wings of extremist organisations. This approach was aggravated by cuts in defence expenditure. As a result, policymakers preferred to politically co-opt rather than confront Islamist organisations. Co-opting Islamist organisations abroad has its roots in the flawed counter-narrative to domestic Islamism that the US and the United Kingdom propound.

Read Full Article: US CT Strategy

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

US Approach Towards the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

(ICT) – Presented at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) Twelfth World Summit on Counter-Terrorism, Herzliya, Israel 10-13 September 2012

Have there ever been examples of despots and autocrats being moderated by being incentivised to do so by the international community? Can you think of any? The tides of tyranny have never been reversed by financial incentives.

On the contrary this has merely emboldened them and hardened their insatiable desire to maximise power. The Obama administration is in the process of emboldening the Muslim Brotherhood by finalising a $1-billion bailout for the Muslim Brotherhood, almost a third of its total burden. The Obama administration is also working with the (IMF) to secure a $5-billion loan for the regime. On top of that, U.S. officials are in the process of creating multiple funds and programs worth almost $500 million to help U.S. and Egyptian businesses connected with the regime. This would be in addition to the regular “security” and “foreign aid” packages. The State Department is also preparing to lead a delegation of dozens of U.S. companies to encourage investment in Egypt. The Obama administration was offering almost $500 million in loans and guarantees to Egyptian businesses.

Note these measures are not being advanced with an independent secular civil society, but with the regime. As such, the Obama administration is repeating the mistaken approach of successive US administrations. That is conducting a top-down approach that empowered autocrats at the expense of investing in a secular liberal civil-society. The Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan is ‘Islam is the Answer.’ Thus the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme leader, Muhammed Badi in Sept 2010 exhorted in a sermon that Muslims ‘need to understand that the improvement and change that the Muslim nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death, just as the enemies pursue life.’ Well let’s see whether the Koran alone has the ability to raise the Muslim world out of social and economic stagnation. Turkey has already cheated by combining Mohammed with Adam Smith. So much for the Koran superseding everything including the state. However, the US is enabling Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to cheat and not make ideological compromises by offering it freebies.

On the contrary, the US has stoked the fires of despotism in Egypt that has entailed alleviating the Muslim Brotherhood of the responsibility of fostering good governance and a coherent economic plan. Martin Kramer has expressed, ‘The Brotherhood has a so-called “Renaissance” plan for the overhaul of the Egyptian economy. I won’t pretend to judge its feasibility. Could modernization of tax collection double or triple tax revenues? Can Egypt double the number of arriving tourists, even while contemplating limits on alcohol and bikinis? Can a renovation of the Suez Canal raise transit revenues from $6 billion a year to $100 billion? Can Egypt’s economy surpass the economies of Turkey and Malaysia within seven years? These are all claims made at various times by the economic thinkers of the Muslim Brotherhood, who trumpet Egypt’s supposed potential for self-sufficiency.’ Plan B, Kramer outlines is a shakedown in what is termed as ‘Reparations’ from the West for its geo-strategic position. Martin Kramer was so right in his prescient assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood’s shakedown of the West which we already see in motion.

Read Full Article: ICT

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

Beyond the bid The PA’s move towards statehood

(Janes Intelligence Review) – Although the Palestinian Authority’s application for full statehood to the UN General Assembly was celebrated vociferously in Gaza and the West Bank, little is expected to change. Barak Seener examines the strategy behind the bid and Israel’s reaction.
On 23 September, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas for- mally presented the PA’s application for full statehood to the UN General Assembly. This bid, which was greeted by celebrations in Gaza and the West Bank, followed months of speculation about whether Abbas would make the bid and how it might be received.

Abbas’ move came despite last-ditch efforts by Israel and the United States to prevent the formal application, with the US warning that such action could serve to undermine the long-running peace process. However, with the bid now having entered a protracted evalua- tion process at the UN, the focus has shifted back to events on the ground. In particular, the 18 October release of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldier Gilad Shalit – who had been held by Hamas since June 2006 – in exchange for Palestinian prisoners has drawn a clear line of comparison between the approaches of Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah, and raised questions about which may prove more effective.

Underlying these different approaches is the long-term disjunction in terms of perception of the aims of the various actors in the peace process. While the common understanding, and generally that of various Western interlocutors in the process, is that the conflict centres on territory and nationalism, this is only part of the issue. If it were simply about territory, the peace process might have been resolved decades ago. Instead, a complex web of ideology and identity, often even within the PA, continues to drive efforts at dialogue. It is these two separate cur- rents within the negotiating process that have led to the dual-track approaches of Hamas and Fatah, and which will dictate the evolution of the peace process.

Ideological backdrop

Despite the ongoing emphasis on the need for Israel and the PA to return to negotiations, the long history of such talks suggests that dialogue is less a means to resolve the conflict than a flawed attempt to manage it. At root, the aim of resolving the conflict founders on the incompatibility of issues of ideology and nationality, rather than territory, as illustrated by the long- standing issue of recognition. It had been a long time coming when Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recognised a potential Palestinian state in a June 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University. In recognising a two-state solution, Netanyahu opened himself up to vehement criticism from within his own Likud party, as well as his right-wing and religious coalition partners. Conversely, Abbas has said to the international community, “Do not order us to recognise a Jewish state.

We will not accept it.” Netanyahu must also contend with coalition partners, some of whom are religious nationalists who refer to the Jewish legal prohibition on ceding any territory of the land of Israel. The non-negotiable approach to the conflict is expressed in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s phased approach of 1974, which was to establish an “independent combatant national authority” over any territory that is “liberated” from Israeli rule through the “armed struggle” (seen by Israel and the international community as terrorism). (Article 2 of the constitution). Articles 4 and 8 respectively establish a sequence of destroying Israel using a Palestinian national territory as a springboard for operations leading the provocation to war that could attract the surrounding Arab states to attack Israel.

Negotiations have often contributed to the ongoing stalemate. The PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Feisal Husseini called the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 and establishing a definitive framework for negotiation, a Trojan Horse. In an interview given to Egypt’s Al-Arabi newspaper in 2001, Husseini said: “Had the US and Israel not [thought], before Oslo, that all that was left of the Palestinian national movement and the Pan-Arab movement was a wooden horse called Arafat or the PLO, they would never have opened their fortified gates and let it inside their walls… The Oslo Accords were a Trojan Horse; the strategic goal is the liberation of Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” It is this approach that frames both Abbas’ decision to bid for Pales- tinian statehood and Hamas’ prisoner exchange agreement, although the two appear very differ- ent on the surface.

Read Full Article: JIR_Palestine

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

The Obama Middle East Speech and Israel’s Reaction

(RUSI) – For Israeli policymakers, President Obama’s major Middle East speech on 19 May 2011 has been met with alarm. An American president has for the first time broken with the traditional US approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The end result may harden attitudes on both sides of the conflict.

The Obama administration has dramatically shifted from the United State’s traditional approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian talks since 1993 when President Clinton presided over the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords. For the first time, President Obama shifted US policy by being the first president to call for Israel to return to the 1967 borders.

His predecessors, President Bush and President Clinton purposely refused to refer to the 1967 borders. President Obama’s pronouncement is certainly a departure from the position outlined by President Bush’s 2004 letter to then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -endorsed by a bipartisan majority, including ironically Hilary Clinton. The letter had referred to the fact that both parties would have to agree to any swaps of territory. The letter further declared, ‘in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.’ Similarly, the Clinton Parameters which was withdrawn by President Clinton before he left office, while referring to land ‘swaps and other territorial arrangements’, failed to mention the 1967 borders.

This traditional approach towards the conflict was in line with UN Resolution 242 of November 1967 that did not make its calls for Israel’s return to a ‘secure and recognised’ border as synonymous with the 1967 borders. This was due to its aim that the borders would result from negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Britain’s foreign secretary at the time, George Brown underscored this saying: ‘The proposal said ‘Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied,’ and not from ‘the’ territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories.’ This principle in fact had already been reiterated by the main author of Resolution 242, the British ambassador to the UN in 1967, Lord Caradon, who decades earlier admitted on PBS: ‘We didn’t say there should be a withdrawal to the ’67 line….We all knew – the boundaries of ’67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier.’ The cease-fire Lord Caradon was referring to was in 1948, when the five Arab armies were prevented from invading the newly created state of Israel and which legally formed an armistice line, not a recognised international border.

Read Full Article: RUSI

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

How Moderate is the Muslim Brotherhood?

(RUSI) – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has blindsided the West, and appears as a pluralistic movement. As a result, the US National Security Council has emphasised that the US has not ruled out ‘engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood as part of an orderly process’.1 Yet the Brotherhood is locked in endless debate between those who aspire to instant jihad − citing Mohammed’s small armies defeating much larger ones as in the battles of Badr and Uhud − and others who advocate a multi-generational process of ‘da’wah’ (persuasion via example and preaching), as well as deception. Some analysts look to Islam’s past traditions to prove this point. Strategies can involve the use of concepts such as ‘taqiyyah’, a process that includes lying to enemies to conceal one’s true intentions, which Raymond Ibrahim claims is widespread in the Islamic world. Forms of taqiyyah can include collaboration with the enemy or ‘hudna’, a ceasefire that provides organisations like Hamas time to replenish their weapons stocks. The ultimate objective is the attainment of power.

Da’wah and taqiyyah were strategies employed by the Iranian revolutionary Ayatollah Khomeini in the late 1970s in his dealings with the United States. Khomeini shrewdly echoed what the international community wanted to hear and spoke of pgge4nder equality and thepvgio8 lation of human rights by the Shah. History will recall how Khomeini later proceeded to brutally purge all those who had previously constituted his coalition to advance his Islamist agenda. Thus Khomeini laid down the blueprint that has been followed by Islamist groups across the Middle East: the more distant from power, the more moderate and democratic their rhetoric. The greater their proximity, the more openly anti-Western and undemocratic their agenda becomes.

Read Full Article: RUSI Newsbrief_March_2011_Seener

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

Israel’s Geographic-Demographic Threat to Identity

(RUSI) – Mahmoud Abbas has begun galvanising the Arab world to embrace a one-state solution. He said to reporters in Saudi Arabia, ‘From a historical perspective, there are two states: Israel and Palestine. In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognise, nothing else.’ Yet a two- state solution does not reduce the Israeli-Arab challenge to Israel’s Jewish character − which calls for turning it into a ‘state of all its citizens’ or a binational state. In 2008, at the eighth annual Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, Israeli- Arab MK Ahmed Tibi accused Israel of having established an ‘apartheid state’. Thus Israel’s unwillingness to coherently identify how to maintain its Jewish identity before conducting negotiations with its Palestinian counterparts has enabled both sides to demographically challenge its existence.

Israeli-Arabs

In December 2006, the Israeli-Arab Higher Arab Monitoring Committee advanced a one-state solution in a document entitled: ‘The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel’. The report called for a ‘consensual democracy’ that incorporated the presence of both Palestinians and Jews.1 Israeli-Arabs may not accept a ptgw3o-state solution wpigth7 a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and could advance a programme for self- determination. Israeli-Arabs pose a conundrum to Israel’s political establishment: if Israel reaches an agreement with the PLO, Israeli- Arabs will proceed to challenge the PLO’s status. On the other hand, if negotiations fail, a two-state solution will be questioned, allowing in its stead a one-state solution.
A two-state solution would not necessarily prevent Israeli-Arabs taking up the cause of the Palestinians as they did during Israel’s military operations in Gaza in 2008. In 2000, a poll published by Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot showed that 66 per cent of Israeli-Arabs would support the Palestinians in any confrontation with Israel, while only 13 per cent would support their own country.2

Israel’s Strategic Deficit

Israel’s sudden fear of a one-state solution should have been anticipated for decades. It is indicative of the absence of a culture in Israel that encourages long-term strategic thinking. This in turn has polarised Israeli society vis-à-vis its territorial borders. As a result, Israel’s political establishment has maintained an incoherent approach to its demographic balance, oscillating between outright denial of the threat and expression of the urgent strategic challenge it poses.

Read Full Article: RUSI Newsbrief January 2011

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

American-European Relations

(InFocus) – During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama positioned himself as a strong proponent of diplomatic engagement. He pledged to work with Europe to solve international disputes and heed the advice of others when it came time to crafting America’s foreign policy. In practice, President Obama hoped that his approach would stand in stark contrast to George W. Bush’s “cowboy diplomacy” — the philosophy where, “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.”

It is no surprise, then, that in the aftermath of President Obama’s electoral victory, the sense of optimism in Western Europe was palpable. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitude Project conducted in May and June 2009, Germany’s favorable opinion of the U.S. more than doubled from the attitudes held in 2008 – from 31 to 64 percent. During the same period, Britain, Spain, and France also saw an increase of 16, 25, and 33 percent respectively. The belief that Obama would “do the right thing in world affairs” – which according to most Europeans means placing faith in multilateral institutions – was shown to be nearly universal in Western countries. In France and Germany, no fewer than nine-in-ten expressed confidence in the new American president, exceeding the ratings achieved by Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel in their own countries.

Indeed, the importance Europe places in multilateralism is manifest when compared to the polling data from the first year of the Bush administration. A Pew Research Center poll from August 2001 measured the confidence levels of European nations toward the Bush administration and found that much of the opposition resulted from Europe’s frustration with Bush’s unilateralist approach to world affairs. It was therefore no surprise that more than 80 percent of Europeans disapproved of Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and more than 60 percent disapproved of the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Defense Missile Development Program. Yet the question remains: Do European perceptions towards the U.S. matter?

Obama promised hope and change, and that optimism was to extend to his diplomacy with Europe. The question, from a U.S. standpoint, was which path to Europe offers the highest probability of success? Should the new administration reach out to individual European nations — that is, the bilateral approach — or is it best to engage with collective bodies, such as the European Union (EU) or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)? And how different would Barack Obama’s approach be in reality from that of George W. Bush?

Read Full Article: InFocus

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

Targeting Israelis via International Law

Barak Seener - Strategic Intelligentia

(The Middle East Quarterly) – Based on principles derived from the Hague and Geneva conventions, individuals have been brought to trial for war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity. The outstanding examples of such trials were those held at Nuremberg after World War II where numbers of leading Nazis were brought to court for some of the many crimes committed by Germany under the Third Reich. The shadow of those trials is still visible today. In July 2009, John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian accused of crimes while working for the Nazis as a concentration camp guard was deported from Canada to Germany to stand trial. On a smaller but significant scale, cases have been brought against individuals responsible for the genocide that took place during the Bosnian war of 1992-95. More recently, however, individuals and organizations with political grievances have started to make use of war crimes legislation in order to pursue a variety of officials from states equipped with well-run courts and tribunals, notably the United States, Great Britain, and—most of all—Israel. Should this matter to us? Aren’t war crimes clear and cut; shouldn’t those who commit them be pursued with the full force of the law? This essay tries to answer those questions and others

The poster of Dan Halutz, former IDF chief of staff and Israeli air force commander, is an example of attempts to delegitimize Israel and present its officials as war criminals for conducting antiterrorist actions.

Again and again attempts have been made to indict Israeli soldiers and civilians as war criminals when their only crimes have been to thwart terrorist actions or punish those responsible for murder.[1] A boost was given to this gambit when speeches at the Durban Conference on Racism in 2001 branded Israeli antiterrorist actions as “war crimes” and condemned Israel as “an apartheid state” that has committed ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide. This has set the tone for a series of attempts to summon Israelis before foreign courts, from Ariel Sharon and Amos Yaron (particularly with regard to the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, which had already been investigated by Israel’s own Kahan Commission),[2] to Avraham (Avi) Dichter for the assassination of a Hamas leader while he was director of the Israeli security service, Shin Bet, to Doron Almog, an Israeli general accused of mass murder in 2002, and Moshe Ya’alon, former head of Israeli military intelligence (and later chief of staff), indicted for bombings in Qana, Lebanon, in 1996.
The sweep of charges is wide. The individuals charged have been important figures in Israeli life and major contributors to Israel’s security. Attempts to charge them with crimes against humanity have never been matched by calls to indict Palestinian terrorist chiefs. The bias is very clear, and it is inspired not by humanitarian concerns or a desire for justice but by political motives.

(for all references see the source article)

Read Full Article: The Middle East Quarterly

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.

The Threat From Israel’s Arab Population

v

(InFocus) – While Iran and Syria, along with their proxies Hamas and Hizbullah, are often cited as Israel’s primary security concerns, Israeli Arabs are a growing strategic threat. What began as hostility toward the Jewish identity of the state has evolved into a growing identification with Palestinian nationalism and Islamism. Thus, the challenge posed by Israel’s Arabs to the security of the state is now characterized by religious ideology as well as political identity, making rapprochement increasingly less likely.

Israeli Arabs in Context

Despite allegations that Israel cleansed itself of its Arab population, Arabs have lived in the state of Israel since the founding of the state. Approximately 150,000 Arabs elected to live in Israel after the armistice of 1949. In accordance with Israeli law, the state took measures to ensure that Israeli Arabs enjoyed the same rights and privileges as Jewish Israeli citizens. Over six decades, however, the Israeli Arabs have developed a unique political identity, distinctly separate from the Israeli political identity, and often hostile to it.

In 2000, a poll published by the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot revealed that 66 percent of Israeli Arabs would back the Palestinians in any confrontation with Israel, while only 13 percent would support their own country. Similarly, a 1999 survey by the Institute for Peace Research at Givat Haviva found that 32.8 percent of Israeli Arabs believed that only “Israeli” was “appropriate to their self-identity.”

At the beginning of 2001, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) reported that 18.7 percent of Israel’s population, including East Jerusalem, was Arab. Today, the Israeli Arab population centers and political hotbeds outside of Jerusalem are found in an area known as the “Triangle” in Northern Israel, where the majority of the Israeli Arabs live.

Read Full Article: InFocus

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.