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Israeli Elections: A Foreign Policy Crossroads

WHO: American University School of International Service assistant professor Guy Ziv

WHAT: Upcoming Israeli Elections & Book Talk: Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel

WHEN: February 5, 4-5:30 p.m.

WHERE:  School of International Service Building Abramson Family Founders Room (intersection of Nebraska and New Mexico Aves. NW, See map here)

Contact: Please RSVP to J. Paul Johnson at 202-885-5943 or via e-mail at

BACKGROUND— Will Israel's national elections on March 17 result in its continuation of a hawkish course led by the Likud's Prime Minister Netanyahu or potentially result in a dovish shift committed to a two-state solution with Labor candidate Yitzhak Herzog in control?

Leaders' personalities, according to School of International Service assistant professor Guy Ziv, plays a critical role in foreign policy decision-making. This election may prove pivotal for Israel's long term future. Israel's foreign policy is at a crossroads diverging in one direction towards isolation and another towards partnership and peace. At the same time, its relationship with the White House faces a certain chill for the next two years, depending on the outcome.

Elder statesman Shimon Peres is the primary case study in Ziv's new book, Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel. Ziv will discuss how his research findings apply to Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as to his challengers, in the upcoming elections.

Ziv's methodology is focused on a leader's willingness to evaluate and accept new facts and developments over the course of time versus holding steadfast and closed to new opportunities or viewpoints. To this end, Ziv pored through hundreds of archival documents and interviewed dozens of political elites including Peres. Israel's candidates for prime minister in March reflect the various personality traits described in Ziv's book. "Netanyahu is a hawk who 'outhawked' Ariel Sharon throughout the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st century," says Ziv. Netanyahu, Ziv shows, is an unreconstructed hardliner who remains opposed to a Palestinian state. As Ziv points out, "Netanyahu chooses to surround himself with loyal political supporters who identify with his worldview, therefore leaving little room for change."   


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