Michael Herzog

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The view from Russia.

Russia’s military intervention in Syria is largely a war of choice marketed as a necessity to defeat the terror of Islamic State. It brings Russia back from the cold as an indispensable power.

Sending forces into combat allowed Moscow to muscle its way to the centre of global diplomacy on Syria, while turning the conversation away from Ukraine. Displays of new military prowess and power diplomacy have become the primary sources of popular legitimacy for the Russian leaders. Moscow launched airstrikes in Syria on 30 September with only 15% of Russians paying attention but a month of relentless TV coverage has focused people’s minds the way the Kremlin wanted.…  Seguir leyendo »

My father, Chaim Herzog, first went to Washington in 1950 to help open the Israeli Embassy. Throughout his life, he was committed to the American-Israeli alliance and did his utmost — as a general, diplomat and president of Israel — to maintain the deep bond between the Jewish democratic state and the United States.

He realized that the intimate relationship between the two countries was based not only on immense strategic interests but also on shared core values. He also knew that Israel must always be grateful to America, which has stood by us since the moment our country was born, and that support for Israel must always be a nonpartisan issue in the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

It may sound like the refrain of a sad, familiar song. But, faced with Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza firing hundreds of rockets at it, Israel had no other choice than to launch a military operation. The immediate trigger was the abduction of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, for which Israel blames Hamas, whose leaders had called for kidnappings. Israel responded with pressure on Hamas's West Bank infrastructure. Hamas pushed back by allowing a massive firing of rockets from Gaza. However, as so often in the Middle East, one should look beneath the surface for the root causes.…  Seguir leyendo »

The interim nuclear agreement with Iran, touted by its proponents as a "historic deal", has been described as a "historic mistake" by Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. How will Israel react in the months ahead? The answer is to be found in the struggle to shape the endgame deal.

The six-month deal is a mixed bag. On the positive side it stems the tide of Iranian nuclearisation by setting its clock slightly back, temporarily capping Iran's nuclear facilities, array of centrifuges and stockpile of low-enriched uranium, and improving the monitoring regime. On the other hand, Iranian enrichment has been accepted as part of the endgame; the clock in the uranium and plutonium tracks continues to tick, albeit at a slower pace; Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium (enough for at least five bombs) remains intact; Iranian concessions are all reversible; and International Atomic Energy Agency concerns about military dimensions have not been addressed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Reports of Israeli airstrikes in Syria have frequently obscured the issues that are really driving Israel's decision-making. The most important notion to dispel is that Israel has decided to play an active role in the Syrian conflict. Not so. Israel has no interest in getting drawn into the quagmire. Its target is strategic weapons destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Its actions were driven not by ambitions to shape Syria's future, but by concerns about the strategic balance between itself and the Hezbollah-Iran axis.

Israel has followed the Syrian conflict with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it appreciates the potential benefits of President Bashar al-Assad's departure, which would be a blow to Iran and Hezbollah.…  Seguir leyendo »

It has been more than two years since the confrontation over a Gaza-bound flotilla plunged Israeli-Turkish relations into a deep crisis. Left to their own devices, Turks and Israelis have been unable to overcome mutual suspicion and domestic obstacles to bridge their differences. These days, there is a degree of openness in both Israel and Turkey to the idea of reconciliation. However, there are still tensions between the parties, especially because of recent Turkish indictments against senior Israelis involved in the June 2010 flotilla episode — during which Israeli commandos attempting to enforce the Gaza blockade boarded a Turkish vessel, leading to a melee in which nine Turks were killed and many others, including Israeli soldiers, were injured.…  Seguir leyendo »