SIGNAL's GLOBAL ISRAEL INITIATIVE
SIGNAL’s Global Israel Initiative (GII) is a new strategic agenda aiming to advance Israel as a global middle power to strengthen its position vis-à-vis China and amid the U.S.-China great power rivalry. As a public policy disruptor, SIGNAL asseverates that realizing Israel’s potential as a global middle power is a foundational strategy for securing its national interests and bolstering its agency and strategic autonomy. Leveraging SIGNAL’s policy and research expertise and capitalizing on its world-wide China-expert network, the GII’s suite of programs is designed to generate meaningful networking and brainstorming opportunities for Israel’s leaders and policy establishment. By fostering a rethink of relations with China and fashioning new coalitions and diplomatic initiatives with like-minded middle powers in the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East, and Europe, the GII aims to develop new policy options for strengthening Israel’s geopolitical position.
SIGNAL’s GII rests on the conviction that the time has come to take Israel’s foreign policy outreach to a new level by applying its sui generis “start-up nation” entrepreneurial spirit to its global diplomacy.
Rationale – As China Goes Global, So Must Israel
In realizing its great power ambitions, China pursues a global approach to wield and enhance its growing influence, evident in the series of “global initiatives” launched by President Xi over the past 18 months – the Global Civilizations Initiative, the Global Development Initiative, and the Global Security Initiative. By championing these initiatives, prioritizing a robust presence across the UN system, and aspiring to lead the “Global South” (developing countries), China’s stated objective is to reshape the norms and principles of the international order with the implied goal of positioning itself at its epicenter.
From Israel’s perspective, China’s policies and diplomatic actions emanating from these initiatives might undermine its national interests. The Chinese-brokered Saudi-Iranian deal shows how China’s diplomatic engagement in the Middle East could harm Israel’s regional position and possibly undercut the potential of the Abraham Accords.
As the U.S.-China great power rivalry becomes the defining feature of world affairs, possibly reshaping the Middle East, Israel’s ability to pursue its national interests and priorities vis-à-vis China and beyond will require expanding its diplomatic/strategic outreach on the world stage as a global middle power.
Global middle powers such as Japan, UK, France, Australia, Sweden, Singapore, and South Korea, advance their national interests and enhance their international influence by launching and actively participating in initiatives and partnerships – be they formal or informal, regional or global, bilateral or multilateral (including “mini-lateral”). Committing resources to diplomatic innovation and entrepreneurship often results in these countries “punching above their weight” and realizing interests otherwise out of reach.
In recent years, Israel has demonstrated “middle-powership” in its proximate neighborhood – be it through the trilateral strategic partnership with Cyprus and Greece, the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, the Negev Forum, or I2U2. Hedging against risks associated with China’s growing inroads in the Middle East, Israel should apply its “start-up nation” entrepreneurial spirit to its diplomatic engagement across the global arena.
SIGNAL’s GII policy research will demonstrate how a growing number of global middle powers are pursuing their strategic autonomy and economic security through novel formats and unique groupings. Considering what Israel brings to the table – from innovation, through dealing with emerging security challenges, onto cutting edge bio- and food-tech – it has even more to gain. Through the GII, SIGNAL will showcase new opportunities materializing in the Indo-Pacific arena, especially as its key middle powers are like-minded and increasingly alert to the relevance of the Middle East, or as they term it, West Asia. Taken together, a broad, yet clear-eyed strategic vision, fused with ambitious entrepreneurial diplomacy, will enhance Israel’s capabilities to address its most vital strategic priorities as it contends with the tectonic shifts in the Middle East and global arena.
Launch Event – SIGNAL will hold a reception in May 2023 to present the GII to the Israeli policy establishment and to key opinion-shapers.
Global Israel Retreat – The first initiative within this framework (to be held in Israel in-person during Q4/2023), will bring together a select group of top experts and practitioners from Israel and around the world. This brain-trust will be tasked to conceive of, and formulate new tools, to position Israel as a global middle power and to bolster Israel’s agency and strategic autonomy amid the U.S.-China rivalry and beyond. The discussions will seek to yield new paths for enhancing Israel’s global and regional maneuverability. Deliberations will thus offer a broader, more integrated strategic perspective for addressing Israel’s national security challenges, to include coalition-building with like-minded nations.
The Middle Power Toolkit – As Israel’s foreign and defense establishment is unfamiliar with how middle powers operate on the global stage, SIGNAL will develop a toolkit – a source of reference – in Hebrew with contributions in English from experts and practitioners around the world. The toolkit will present a range of strategies and tactics that Israel can chose from to advance its interests and strengthen Israel’s posture vis-à-vis China in both regional and global arenas.
SIGNAL’s Global Israel Initiative Forum – A high-level international conference in Israel, convening leaders and senior-most thinkers in 2024/2025, will stimulate an Israeli policy debate on how to broaden its role and interests on the world stage. The Forum is positioned to be the centerpiece event of the GII and designed to actively support Israel’s global agenda.