This study provides background for understanding and assessing the array of state practices Israel employs to forge regional cooperation. The study has found several inherent factors and practices enabling regional cooperation, including a unique geopolitical situation and a convergence of interests between Israel and Sunni Muslim states that view Iran as a shared enemy, Arab states’ understanding that “the road to Washington traverses Jerusalem” and the ability to develop covert security cooperation far from the public eye. However, several challenges hamper regional cooperation. First, the assigned tasks of the various state bodies engaged in the arena are not defined clearly and lack overall integration. Second, a weakened Israeli Foreign Ministry has been excluded from decision making. Third, there has been a growing reliance on personal prime ministerial envoys who are not part of the government system. Finally, the dividends of security cooperation are not necessarily translated into achievements in other non-security fields. Along with the challenges, Israel has an opportunity to leverage existing cooperation and create new cooperation in a variety of areas, especially given the global economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Israel has much to offer the regional economy in terms of tourism, energy, water, agriculture and, healthcare, even more relevant now due to the pandemic.
Regional Cooperation: Government Practices
Ksenia Svetlova and Mor Yahalom December 2020