New Israeli Security Doctrine: Principles, Challenges

The Israeli national security doctrine which is advocated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is back to the surface again. The draft document is the second attempt by Tel Aviv officials in the 70-year history of the regime to design a comprehensive national security strategy. So far, various Israeli cabinets adopted their security and military policies based on the doctrine of David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli Prime Minister, dubbed the Alliance of Periphery or periphery doctrine.

For the first time, Netanyahu told of his new doctrine in mid-August 2018. However, the special situation inside the Israeli regime including the collapse of his cabinet that triggered early parliamentary elections drove the plan out of his agenda priority. But now that he has won the Knesset elections and weathered a certain fall, he has time and opportunity to raise his doctrine anew.

The PM office has announced the plan a classified document, adding that Netanyahu will soon send copies of it to the intelligence services, the military, Mossad and home security agency Shin Bet.

New security doctrine’s principles

First, the new doctrine is essentially a root change of the concept of the Israeli security and represents new understanding of the international atmosphere, mainly the US view of the Israeli regime.

Today, Tel Aviv has established military-intelligence relations with some of the world countries, especially those in the vicinity of its arch-opponent the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf, Eurasia, and the Indian Peninsula.

So, Tel Aviv knows that it no longer needs periphery doctrine. Economic, military, and intelligence successes, the Arab compromising of the Palestinian rights, the US and other global powers’ support to the regime embolden its leaders to ignore the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions. All these developments motivate an update of the national security doctrine.

Second, the doctrine is a brazen attempt to transform Israeli national power. Netanyahu, for example, is seeking foreign investment in the internet network to become a regional cyber-power. In fact, the “security 2030” concept, under examination and implementation over the past two years, addresses such issues as regional threats which Tel Aviv thinks will possibly face it in the next decade. As part of the doctrine, Israelis move to improve their cyber-security, defensive power, missile defense range, and the security protection.

Third, the new doctrine marks an essential change in Tel Aviv’s policy regarding the Palestinians in which the Israeli leader closes eyes to the two-state solution and the principle of land for peace. The new doctrine is, in fact, reinforcement for systematic racism present in the newly-enacted Jewish State Law. So, the Palestinians should expect a tougher apartheid system in which their right to return home will be completely ignored.

Fourth, the new doctrine will encourage further investment on multi-layer air defense systems to deter larger barrage of missiles targeting the internal Israeli front that in case of war will be an aim to rockets, ballistic missiles, and complicated air assaults. Netanyahu once in a comment said that the new doctrine will increase the demand for bigger defense spending in the next decade. Media leaks suggest that the Israeli intelligence community’s budget will gradually reach 6 percent of its GDP. According to the strategy, about $1 billion a year will be added to the Shin Bet and Mossad annual budgets. Further reports suggest that when the Israeli GDP reaches $500 billion, the defense spending will be reviewed anew. The Israeli regime’s gross domestic product in 2017 reached $347.8 billion. It is expected that during the next decade, Israeli military spending reaches $27 billion.

Challenges ahead

While some inside the occupied territories consider the Netanyahu plan a transformational approach to the Israeli security, the critics find it a show gesture rather than a pragmatic move for the sake of the Israeli security.

First, Just unlike Ben-Gurion’s doctrine, Netanyahu’s has not consulted the former and present security and defense officials of the regime. It is only under examination in the Knesset’s Security and Foreign Committee, as well as a joint Mossad-Shin Bet committee.

Second, some critics argue that the doctrine will be more beneficial to Netanyahu’s political position than to the Israeli home security. In fact Netanyahu wants to rule up to 2030 using the strategy.

The third challenge is the costs of the strategy. At the time being, the Israeli military spending is larger than many Western countries. However, Tel Aviv has so far failed to fully stabilize its home front. It has always demanded help from the US to face security challenges. Additionally, the strategy does not suit the Israeli economic situation. For example, the Israeli finance ministry reported that in November 2018 the gross national product (GNP) suffered a 3.6 percent deficit up from the 2.6 percent in November 2017.

From another aspect, some experts call the doctrine incomplete, suggesting that introducing such a doctrine only spreads fear among the citizens and is meant to overshadow criticisms surrounding the Likud-led cabinet’s poor economic performance and increase in unemployment and decrease in public welfare. They suggest that this would mean that through the new doctrine the people will be put at the military’s service and not vice versa.


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