The Strategic Report identifies three key events that dominated the Israeli scene in 2006. The first was the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections, which Israel used as a pretext to impose draconian policies and unilateral measures on the Palestinian people. The second major event of the year was the Israeli elections, whose outcome signaled that the “new majority” now dominated the center of Israel’s political map. The third event was Israel’s failed war in Lebanon, which, among many other things, led Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to withdraw from the platform of unilateralism upon which he was elected.
In its executive summary and throughout its five chapters, the Strategic Report summarizes the details of Israel’s war in Lebanon, including its immediate results and implications. The report also traces the heated debate in Israel in the wake of the war concerning its planning, implementation and results as well as its strategic implications. The most salient themes of that debate focus on Israel’s deterrence capability and preparedness of the domestic front; Israel’s security doctrine and theories; Israel’s regional “files,” especially those pertaining to Iran and Syria; and the Israeli-American relationship in the context of the Iraq war.
These events and related developments have had such seismic impacts that their ripple effects have not only dominated Israeli public discourse but have also caused a widening and deepening crises in Israel’s political and military structures. Dan Haloutz, Israel's army chief of staff, was compelled to resign following the war.
Olmert’s party, Kadima, lost its raison d'etre, whereas the Labor Party, under the leadership of Amir Peretz, has experienced a difficult predicament of its own.
Israel is now experiencing a lull period as it anticipates announcement of the findings of the Vinograd Commission, which has investigated the decision-making process underlying the strategic failure of Israel’s war in Lebanon. Many politicians, with Olmert in the forefront, are anxiously awaiting the conclusions and recommendations of the commission, which could determine their political futures.
MADAR’s 2007 Strategic Report also monitors Israel’s approach to dealing with the Palestinians since their free and fair election in January 2006, the results of which Israel has exploited to consolidate its policy of unilateralism and to persuade international powers to acquiesce to such policy and its derivatives. Other salient
developments during this period have included Israel’s offensive onslaught on Gaza;
Israel’s strangulation of the Palestinian economy and the imposition of a siege on the Palestinian people and government; and Israel’s negative response to repeated calls for peace by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The latter has included Israel’s continuing violation of the international “road map” formula for peace, particularly in the area of settlement building and construction.
On Israel’s domestic front, particularly on the economic and social levels, further blows have been dealt against the state welfare system at the same time when the national economy has been growing. This period has also witnessed a growing disparity in the distribution of wealth, which is held primarily by a small minority of Israeli oligarchs and nouveau riche elites, according to Israeli reports. These trends indicate the highly likely possibility that Israel’s weaker economic classes will bear the brunt of the cost of the Lebanon war.
With regard to the Palestinians in Israel, a tone of enmity and hostility against them has been increasing and has gathered more currency within various Israeli political circles. In late 2006, leaders of the Palestinian community in Israel published a document about its current socio-political and socio-economic status and projections for the future. This document, known as the “Future Vision,” stirred a heated and tense debate within Israeli media, academic and political circles.
The Strategic Report also notes that a number of social phenomena in 2006 have raised serious questions about the essence of the Israeli value system. These developments include legal proceedings against several members of Israel’s top political echelon – most notably President Moshe Katzav – on charges of moral, financial and management corruption and abuse and misuse of power. At the same time, the political influence and power of dubious Israeli economic tycoons and oligarchs have increased.
MADAR’s 2007 Strategic Report offers a rich and comprehensive summary of the major events and developments of 2006 as well as analysis of their impacts and implications. At MADAR we hope that the report will help decision-makers, politicians, opinion shapers, academics and researchers to widen and deepen their knowledge about and understanding of the Israeli scene.