Drivers of Israeli Security Strategy
Satria, Clara K.
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis seeks to identify the drivers of Israeli national security strategy and to identify whether or not Israel has a coherent, long-term security strategy. Understanding what drives Israeli strategy is vital for understanding how Israel will act in the future, and will help to predict potential causes of conflict in the Middle East and to shape US policy. Specifically, this thesis analyzes what factors influenced Israeli action in Egypt, Lebanon, and Gaza using an analysis of previous literature, and the writings, policies, and speeches of Israeli leaders. The conclusions drawn in this portfolio may help to predict future strategic Israeli action in the region. The first chapter shows that the combination of three factors – the legacy of the Yom Kippur War, the balance of power, and US pressure and incentives – all heavily influenced Israel’s strategy to make peace with Egypt. Israel has enjoyed nearly 40 years of peace with Egypt, and despite the two political revolutions in Egypt, peace with Egypt has formed the foundation of Israeli security in the region. The second chapter analyzes Ariel Sharon’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza in 2005, concluding that a combination of internal and external factors influenced his decision, and that demographic pressures and a distrust of Palestinian leadership were the most influential factors. Israel’s unilateral action in Gaza set a precedent for how Israel chooses to approach problems it sees as unsolvable with a Palestinian partner, and it is likely that Israel will continue to act unilaterally in the future to protect its interests. The third chapter demonstrates how public opinion drives Israeli security strategy in Lebanon by examining the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war and the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, concluding that poor domestic opinion constrains leaders’ actions and operational effectiveness, but does not stop the war from happening altogether. This portfolio concludes that Israel is more sensitive to internal rather than to external pressures, and that Israel’s desire to avoid Israeli causalities is a major driver of Israeli security strategy.