The 10th annual INSS conference

The Strategic Environment of 2017

The year 2017 has much symbolic significance. It marks:

  • 100 years since the signing of the Balfour Declaration and the recognition of the Jewish people's right to self-determination and a national home in the Land of Israel

  • 80 years since the Peel Commission proposed the partition of the Land of Israel into two states – one Jewish and one Arab

  • 70 years since the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of the partition plan

  • 50 years since the Six Day War, control of Judea and Samaria, and the unification of Jerusalem

  • 40 years since Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem

This year also marks 10 years since the launch of INSS in its current form and its drive to outline the current and future security challenges facing the State of Israel.


The INSS 10th annual conference coincides with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, which will have major implications for the winds of new leadership that are sweeping across the globe, and for relations between Israel and the United States. At the conference, we will examine in depth the future of strategic relations between the United States and Israel, with the help of many guest speakers from the US who will address this issue from various angles.

We will look at the global changes influencing the public in many countries, reflected in the disappearance of social solidarity and mutual responsibility in various societies. We will discuss the search for absolute truths, strong leaders, and new social frameworks and how they facilitate the renewed prevalence of extremist movements, such as Salafi jihadism. We will attempt to outline the directions these trends are taking, and the ramifications of these developments. We will also consider the information revolution and social media that have helped to undermine the existing political order in many countries, and we will present voices from the Arab world about the situation in Arab countries and attitudes toward Israel.

A number of sessions will be devoted to the diverse challenges shaping Israel's internal and external strategic environment, which we believe require reexamination of national security objectives. In light of the decline of external military threats to the State of Israel and the rise of internal disputes and disparities, the conference will point to the need to change priorities in favor of addressing domestic challenges affecting Israeli society – led by the ability to reduce inequality and promote social cohesion and cooperation among various social sectors, particularly between the Jewish and Arab populations.

Against the external backdrop of regional changes and developments, terrorism, and increased violence, we will address the need to adopt an appropriate approach toward an ongoing multi-dimensional and multidisciplinary campaign that includes military efforts alongside other efforts that express Israel's "soft" power. In addition, we will continue to look for ways to resolve the Palestinian issue.

Speakers from Israel and abroad will participate in this diverse discourse: decision-makers, researchers, current and past members of the military and government, journalists, and intellectuals. The public is invited to participate (space is limited) or to view the live broadcast of the conference.

The program is available 

תכניית הכנס זמינה



The list of speakers is not final, and is subject to change

In the presence of His Excellency, Mr. Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, President of the State of Israel

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

His Excellency

President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin

President of the State of Israel

INSS Executive Team 

Amos Yadlin
Moshe Bogi Ya'alon
Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Amos Yadlin

Director of INSS

 Frank Lowy AC

Chairman of the Board of Directors, INSS

Udi Dekel 

Managing Director of INSS

Keynote Speakers

Shlomo Avineri 

Prof. Emeritus of

Political Science,

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Naftali Bennett

Minister of Education

Amir Eshel

The Israeli Air Force Commander 

*Subject to Approval of the IDF Spokesperson

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Yoav Galant

Minister of Construction and Housing

Zehava Gal-On

 Chairwoman of Meretz

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

 Isaac Herzog

Member of the Knesset,

 Leader of the Opposition

Yisrael Katz

 Minister of Transportation and Minister of Intelligence

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Yair Lapid 

Member of the Knesset

Tzipi Livni

 Head of Hatnuah,

Zionist Union

 Ayelet Shaked  

Minister of Justice 

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Avigdor Liberman

Minister of Defense

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Moshe Ya'alon

Senior Fellow, INSS


Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

 John R. Allen  

Co-Director, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, The Brookings Institution 

Liran Antebi

Research Fellow, INSS  

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

 Moshe Arens

Chairman of the Board of Governors of Ariel University

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Jacob Baime

Executive Director, 

Israel on Campus Coalition

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

 Omer Barlev

Member of the Knesset

Isaac Ben-Israel

Chairman, Israel Space Agency; Head of the Yuval Ne'eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, TAU

Benedetta Berti

Research Fellow, INSS

Gili Cohen

Military Correspondent, 

Haaretz newspaper

Demetri Dollis 

Former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Greece

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Robert Danin

Senior Fellow,

Council on Foreign Relations & Harvard Belfer Center

Meir Elran

 Senior Research Fellow INSS

Oded Eran

Senior Research Fellow, INSS

Michèle Flournoy

Co-Founder & CEO,

Center for a New American Security (CNAS)

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

 Philip Gordon

Senior Fellow,

Council on Foreign Relations

 Moshe Halbertal

Hebrew University in Jerusalem

 Michal Hatuel-Radoshitzky

 Neubauer Research Associate, INSS

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Hon. Jane Harman

Director, President & CEO, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

François Heisbourg

Chairman IISS,

Chairman, GCSP,

Special Advisor, FRS

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

 David Ignatius

Associate Editor,

The Washington Post

Zipi Israeli 

Research Fellow, INSS


Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Stephen Joachim Kramer

 President of State Agency for the Protection of the Constitution in Thuringia, Germany

Jean-David Levitte

Member of the Institut de France

Christina Lin

Fellow, Center for Transatlantic Relations,

SAIS-Johns Hopkins University

Gallia Lindenstrauss

Research Fellow, INSS

Meir Litvak

Tel Aviv University

Ibtisam Mara'ana-Menuhin

Israeli Arab screenwriter,

film and TV producer,

and media professional

Walter Russell Mead

Distinguished Fellow,

The Hudson Institute

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Amb. Yoshiji Nogami


Japan Institute of International Affairs

Gary North

Vice President for Customer Requirements,
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics

Assaf Orion

Senior Research Fellow​, INSS

Orit Perlov

Research Fellow, INSS

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

 David Petraeus

Chairman, KKR Global Institute, Former US Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Amb. Itamar Rabinovich

President of The Israel Institute, and Vice Chairman of the INSS Board of Directors

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Visiting Professor,

Kings College, London

Former UK Foreign Secretary and Minister of Defence 

Moomen Sallam

Editor & Co-Founder, Civic Egypt 

Pnina Sharvit Baruch   

Senior Research Fellow, INSS

David Shedd

CEO, Faith Without Borders, LLC

Former Acting Director,

Defense Intelligence Agency

Gilead Sher

Senior Research Fellow, INSS

 Sima Shine 

Senior Research Fellow, INSS

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Michael Singh

Senior Fellow & Managing

Director, The Washington Institute

for Near East Policy

Moshe Bogi Ya'alon

Abdullah Sawalha


Center for Israel Studies, Amman

Ofir Winter

Research Fellow, INSS

Einat Wilf

Former MK

Amos Harel

Military Correspondent and Defense Analyst, Haaretz 

Panel Discussions

Combat Ethics, Fighting Spirit, and Public Opinion: Complementary or Conflicting?

The extensive public discourse over the past year about the values IDF soldiers should embody when carrying out their missions has been joined by a debate on how the military establishment should enforce the law and bolster IDF values while also supporting and backing the soldiers performing what they have been tasked to do. This controversy involves issues that are part of the basic IDF ethos and affect relations within the army – between commanders and soldiers; and relations outside the army – between the IDF and its commanders and the general public. These issues have a direct impact on IDF performance, civilian resilience, the legitimacy of military activity, and national security. This session will deal with the ethical foundation of IDF policy and the significance of the public debate for the army and Israel’s security. Ethical, legal, historical, and social aspects connected to the issue will be examined. We will also attempt to consider the strategic consequences of the tensions related to these value-based issues that have emerged in Israeli society and the IDF.

Regional Powers in Flux: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey

The Middle East is mired in one of the most severe global crisis since the end of WWII. At the same time, states have weathered the turbulence differently. Some of the countries in the region are in the midst of a prolonged civil war, some have managed to regain    relative stability after a deep internal crisis, some have experienced tumultuous events, and some have remained stable. Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia comprise an important triangle among the stable countries. Iran and Saudi Arabia, however, have witnessed escalating tensions in their bilateral relations, in recent years, and Turkey clearly prefers to avoid choosing sides. While these three powers face difficult respective internal challenges, they will influence events and developments in the region, particularly the course, duration, and outcome of the region’s conflicts.

Israel’s Technological Superiority: Future Directions

Since Israel gained independence and David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, formulated the country’s defense concept, technology has been a principal way to overcome the quantitative gap between the IDF and its enemies. While Israel is regarded as the “startup nation,” and the IDF is recognized as one of the world’s most technological militaries, questions arise about the means Israel should employ to maintain its standing in this aspect – for example, given that Israel now confronts many sub-state enemies that are clearly technologically inferior. This session will examine the future of Israel’s technological military edge, including the role of civilian technology in Israel’s technological superiority; Israel’s reciprocal relations with the US and American companies with respect to weapons procurement, as in the case of the F-35 stealth fighter; the state’s role in maintaining Israel’s standing as a leader in technology; the importance of engagement in other challenging areas, such as outer space; and the role of unmanned technologies in Israel’s technological standing in the civilian and military theaters.

BDS and the Delegitimization Challenge to Israel

The session will discuss BDS and the efforts around the world to delegitimize Israel, and will attempt to characterize the ongoing campaign against Israel’s political and public status in the international theater and its legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic nation. An effort will be made to map the theaters of activity and analyze the campaign’s various dimensions, manifestations, trends, and effects on Israel’s national security and the security of Jewish communities throughout the world. The first part of the session will be devoted to an assessment of the situation, including the main INSS insights on the issue and policy recommendations for action and capability building. The second part will highlight three current perspectives concerning the phenomenon and ways to cope with it: government preparation and activity; the ideological challenge in the framework of a struggle between rival narratives; and a status report on developments in the field on college campuses in the US. The session has two purposes: to present the INSS research activity on delegitimization and BDS; and to enhance the professional and public discourse concerning delegitimization of Israel in the international theater, while pointing out the potential risks it involves and preferred ways of dealing with it, with an emphasis on the importance of continued research on this subject in the long term.

Settlements: Assets or Liabilities?

There are two conflicting approaches in Israeli society concerning the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. One holds that the settlements are the main obstacle to a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians. The other regards the settlements as an expression of the Jewish people’s right to return to its homeland. The international community is increasingly inclined to accord significant weight to the existence and continued construction in the Jewish settlements as the main obstacle to a two-state solution – more than other core issues. This session will try to consider whether the settlements are in fact the main issue that should be on Israel’s agenda regarding the Palestinian issue. It will also come to grips with questions about the security and civilians aspects related to the settlements by presenting diverse views and perspectives.

Should Israel’s National Security Concept be Revised?

The upheavals in Israel’s strategic environment and the changes in the nature of the conflicts, threats, and enemy actors involved require a reexamination of the national security concept, so that it can help Israel navigate its strategic situation, formulate policy, and devise the correct response to current challenges. The national security concept, which has never been officially published, is an essential element for Israel as it plans its strategy for the coming years. It serves as a conceptual basis for formulating policy in confronting the changes and developments in the global, regional, and internal environment. The session will discuss possible changes to the relative weights assigned to the traditional elements of the security concept and whether new elements should be included; how the change in the nature of the threats should affect the tasks, composition, and character of the IDF; the effect of civilian society on national security; and the addition of “soft” efforts, such as economics, consciousness, lawfare, and other areas, to military power in designing the foundations of Israel’s national security concept.

War without End: The Crisis in Syria and Iraq

The long war that has continued for over a decade in Iraq and the war in Syria, ongoing for nearly six years, have become a regular feature of the Middle East reality. No formula has yet been found for ending the worst humanitarian disaster of the 21st century. The Assad regime and its supporters have won the crucial battle of Aleppo, and the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria continues. There is a new President in the White House, and this will affect the development of the Iraqi and Syrian “syndrome.” This session will attempt to assess how these wars will develop, the dynamic between the global and regional powers, the implications for Israel, and what means and efforts should be made to deal with the possible developments.

In the Eye of the Storm: Voices from the Arab Middle East

In view of the upheaval in the region in recent years, new voices in Israel and the Arab world are emerging, asserting that progress toward peace requires reciprocal rapprochement that starts from a grassroots, bottom-up initiative featuring increasing involvement of civilian society forces. The potential of building civilian bridges between Israelis and their neighbors raises a series of questions, including:

  • Which social organizations in the Arab world are likely to become partners in promoting connections with their counterparts in Israel?

  • Is the Arab world ready for this type of relationship?

  • What opposition and barriers still stand in the way of “normal” civilian relations?

  • To what degree can technological tools, such as the internet and the social networks, make it easier to create informal connections between civilians in the Arab world and Israel?

  • What measures by governments and civilian organizations in Israel and the Arab world are needed to encourage existing civilian connections and the formation of new ones?

The members of the panel, among them civilian social activists from Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority, will address these questions in the framework of a rare civilian Israeli-Arab dialogue.  

Changing Identities in Arab Society in Israel

The 1.7 million Arabs in Israel constitute about one fifth of Israel’s total population. The majority are Muslim, with a small minority Christian and Druze. The issue of "who we are" is an important one in the social discourse in Israel in general and within the Arab community in particular. It is also a sensitive issue in the complex relations between the Jews and Arabs in Israel, as to a great extent it represents the degree of alienation, if not animosity, between the majority and the minority. The session aims to identify and analyze the new perceptions of identity within the Arab society in Israel. We shall try to understand if there is a trend, particularly among the young and educated Arabs, of an identity that centers on their distinct characteristic as Israeli citizens by choice.

From Ideas to Influence: How Think Tanks Can Make an Impact

The most significant challenge for defense and diplomacy think tanks today is addressing trends and developments – both risks and opportunities – under conditions of frequent change in the rules of the game and in the balance of power among international leaders. Researchers who are partners in the work of think tanks must formulate analysis and assessment tools that suit the dynamic changes in technology, traditional media, social media, civil society, and political culture. In a world in which the traditional media and social media rely on simple, catchy messages, the role of policy-oriented think tanks is to provide assessments based on informed analysis and to present policy findings and recommendations that will prove beneficial over time. In this session, directors of think tanks will discuss how to translate research findings into practical recommendations, and consider ways to help expand the influence of think tanks over decision makers and other target audiences.

China: A Rising Power

In 2017 China will be occupied with several major issues, including its internal leadership over the next decade, and decisions taken in the second half of the year will have an immense impact on domestic and international affairs. Like other major actors, China is watching the entry of Donald Trump into the White House with great concern. Tensions in the Pacific Ocean may increase and the global trade and financial markets may witness instability if the new US President translates his campaign rhetoric about China into practice. Israel, continuing to develop close economic ties with China and hoping to strengthen its alliance with the US during the Trump presidency, may be caught in a dilemma as it pursued its relations and interests with these two giants.

The Future of Europe: Security, Economics, and Relations with Russia

In the past year Europe endured multiple interconnected crises in the spheres of security, politics, and economics. These crises strained European unity and prompted questions over the future of the European Union. In parallel, relations with Russia have deteriorated, contributing to the difficulty of resolving these same crises. Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections added yet another layer of complexity, due to his controversial statements questioning US commitments to European security. This nexus of acute challenges raises several questions: How would Trump’s attitudes affect European security? Would the EU endure the new pressures and stresses? Will there be a wave of electoral victories in Europe resonating of Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory? And how would Russia fit in with the new European order?

Security in an Age of Instability

In recent years, decision makers who deal with defense policy have had to cope with new challenges, as well as changes in the primary characteristics of familiar challenges. The upheavals and instability in various global arenas require particular awareness of the changes underway, and the need to formulate an adequate response - sometimes through new and innovative means - whose impact is not always clear in advance. The challenges currently facing decision makers include: the threat of global terrorism, threats along borders, the need to handle waves of migration and refugees, the rise of non-state actors, and changes in the rules of the game. Another challenge is the increased use of social media, which enables more powerful and immediate civilian involvement and popular criticism than in the past. In this session, leaders and decision makers from abroad will share what they have learned from dealing with existing and developing challenges, along with their thoughts on courses of action that are applicable to Israel's strategic environment.

Making the Relationship Great Again? United States–Israel Ties under the Trump Administration

2017 brings with it a new US President who promises a new policy in international affairs. He and the new Secretaries of Defense and State will have to rebuild American leadership and deterrence in global affairs and in regions around the world. One such region is the Middle East, where the decline of US involvement and influence has had many negative ramifications. The new US President will have to review the policies regarding Russia and its behavior in Europe and the Middle East. His tough stance on China during the campaign, and his identification of the Islamic State and the nuclear deal with Iran as the major problems in the Middle East, will be juxtaposed with his actions as President. The US conduct on these issues and its approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a major impact on Israel's strategic balance, which underscores the need for a renewed genuine strategic dialogue between the two nations.

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With the assistance of
the Embassy of the USA

Contents from the Conference


Monday, January 23rd, 2017


יום ב' ה-23 בינואר, 2017

His Excellency, Mr. Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, President of the State of Israel
Panel Discussion: Clashing Values? Military, Morals, and Public Opinion
Panel Discussion: Is Israel's National Security Concept Out-Of-Date?
Prof. Shlomo Avineri, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Challenges of 2017: Israel in a Changing World
כבוד נשיא המדינה, מר ראובן (רובי) ריבלין
מוסר לחימה, רוח לחימה  ואווירה ציבורית – משלימים או מתנגשים? דיון בפאנל
תפיסת הביטחון הלאומי של ישראל - יציבה או מאותגרת? דיון בפאנל
פרופ' שלמה אבינרי, פרופסור אמריטוס למדע המדינה באוניברסיטה העברית בירושלים,
"אתגרי 2017: ישראל בעולם משתנה"
INSS National Security and Public Opinion Polls: Latest Findings
Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin,
Head of the IDF Planning Directorate:
IDF – Strategy and Force Buildup
Coming soon
Panel Discussion:
From Ideas to Influence:
How Think Tanks Can Make an Impact
מדד הביטחון הלאומי - מחקר דעת קהל של המכון למחקרי ביטחון לאומי
האלוף עמיקם נורקין, ראש אגף התכנון, צה“ל, 
”צה"ל – אסטרטגיה ובנין כוח“ 
מרעיונות לפעולה: איך מכוני מחקר יכולים להשפיע? דיון בפאנל

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

יום ג' ה-24 בינואר, 2017

Keynote Speaker: MK Tzipi Livni,
Head of Hatnuah, Zionist Union
Keynote Speaker: Minister of Education, Mr. Naftali Bennett, HaBayit HaYehudi
Keynote Speaker: Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya’alon, Former Minister of Defense; Senior Research Fellow, INSS
ההתנחלויות - נכס או נטל לביטחון הלאומי?
דיון בפאנל
יו"ר "התנועה", חה"כ ציפי לבני, "המחנה הציוני"
שר החינוך, מר נפתלי בנט, "הבית היהודי"
רא"ל (מיל.) משה (בוגי) יעלון, שר הביטחון לשעבר; עמית מחקר בכיר, המכון למחקרי ביטחון לאומי
Keynote Speaker: 
Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel,
Commander of the Israeli Air Force
Panel Discussion:
Israel’s Technological Edge:
Future Directions
Keynote Speaker:  MK Zehava Galon, Head of Meretz
Coming soon
האלוף אמיר אשל, מפקד חיל האוויר הישראלי
העליונות הטכנולוגית של ישראל: כיוונים לעתיד,
דיון בפאנל
יו"ר מפלגת "יש עתיד", חה"כ יאיר לפיד
Panel Discussion: Europe: A Continent in Search of Direction
Panel Discussion: Regional Powers in Flux: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey
Coming soon
 Panel Discussion: The Changing Identities of Arabs in Israel
Coming soon
עלייתה של סין והסדר העולמי המתהווה,
דיון בפאנל
אירופה: יבשת מחפשת כיוון, דיון בפאנל
זהויות משתנות של ערבים בישראל,
דיון בפאנל
מעצמות אזוריות בהתנגשות?
סעודיה, איראן ותורכיה,
דיון בפאנל
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin speaking with Minister of Defense
Avigdor Liberman
Coming soon
Keynote Speaker: Minister of Justice, MK Ayelet Shaked, HaBayit HaYehudi 
Coming soon
Keynote Speaker: Minister of Transportation and Minister of Intelligence, MK Yisrael Katz, Likud
Coming soon
Keynote Speaker: Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party, MK Isaac Herzog, Zionist Camp
Coming soon
Keynote Speaker: Minister of Construction and Housing, Maj. Gen. (ret.) MK Yoav Galant, Kulanu
Coming soon
Panel Discussion: Making the Relationship Great Again? Israel-U.S. Ties under the Trump Administration
האלוף (מיל.) עמוס ידלין משוחח עם
שר הביטחון, מר אביגדור ליברמן
שרת המשפטים, חה"כ איילת שקד, "הבית היהודי"
שר התחבורה ושר המודיעין, חה"כ ישראל כץ, "הליכוד"
יו"ר האופוזיציה ומפלגת "העבודה",
חה"כ יצחק הרצוג, "המחנה הציוני"
שר השיכון והבינוי, אלוף במיל', ח"כ יואב גלנט, "כולנו"
עידן חדש? יחסי ישראל-ארה"ב בפתח ממשל טראמפ, דיון בפאנל