*The conference program will be published soon

Strategic Assessment for Israel

The INSS 11th Annual International Conference

The 70th Year of the State of Israel


The Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) will hold its 11th Annual International Conference as the State of Israel approaches the 70th anniversary of its founding. The conference will examine the sources of Israel’s strength and weaknesses, and ask whether Israel fulfills the vision outlined in its Declaration of Independence, and where it is headed in the coming decades.

In the test of time, Israel is a success story. This achievement is especially noteworthy in view of the instability characteristic of the regional environment over the past seven decades, and to an even greater extent in recent years. Looking ahead, however, the varied challenges facing Israel, originating in the internal and external environments, require a fresh look at the state’s national security goals and the way to advance them in order to preserve this achievement.

The conference will consider whether a change in the national security priorities is necessary, and the question whether priority should be given to internal problems. Looking inward at the social and political matrices in Israel, discussions will consider the reasons for the growing attacks against the gatekeepers of democracy – the legal system, the media, the police, and even the senior IDF command, along with the factors increasing social sectorization and intolerance, if not hatred, of “the other.” In addition, the ability to reduce socioeconomic inequality in Israel and promote social cohesion and cross-sector cooperation will be examined, with an emphasis on relations between Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations. In the military-security sphere, the question is whether Israel is making optimal use of its military and “soft” power assets in handling current challenges. Similarly, Israel must consider how it can guarantee that this balance will be maintained in face of future challenges.

The Palestinian question, as a core issue, has a strong influence on the identity of the State of Israel and its international standing. At the same time, it is difficult to point to a clear policy by the government of Israel on this issue, and determine in which direction the government is channeling the country’s power. We believe that adherence to the status quo and the postponement of critical decisions that will necessarily have historic significance narrow Israel’s future. We will therefore seek and propose directions for progress toward better containment of the conflict as well as its future solution. We will present competing concepts from a comparative perspective and a new framework for promoting Israeli interests in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.

Taking a broader perspective, the conference will mark the beginning of the second year of the Trump administration, and explore the ramifications for the international and regional status of the United States and relations between the United States and Israel. Among the questions to be considered is the significance of Trump’s policy for Israel with respect to the regional processes that have matured during the past year. Chief among these are the declaration of “victory” by the pro-Assad coalition in Syria, led by Russia and Iran; the defeat of the Islamic State by the US-led international coalition; the internal Palestinian reconciliation; the enhancement of Iranian influence throughout the Middle East; and the dramatic changes in the Saudi Arabian royal house.

Another element that will be discussed at the conference is a phenomenon typical of the period – the need to address the stark difference that frequently exists between illusion and reality. The social networks make it possible for people everywhere, at all times, to express an opinion and freely influence the creation of news – not infrequently through the manipulation of facts. If public moods are what determine policy, decisions that are taken are valid for a short time only. “Fake news” fits in well with the global trend in policy management, which tends to favor the image of victory over the concrete results that have a direct and long term strategic connection to national security.     

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