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Understanding Territorial Withdrawal: Israeli Occupations and Exits

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Dr. Rob Geist Pinfold discusses why occupiers either retain or leave occupied territories and analyze why this question is of great importance to the study of international security, territorial conflict, and the Arab-Israel conflict.

Organized by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and co-sponsored by the UCLA Political Science Department.

About the Book

From Ukraine to Afghanistan and beyond, occupations and exit dilemmas permeate contemporary geopolitics. However, the existing literature on territorial conflict rarely scrutinizes a pivotal, related question: what makes a state withdraw from an occupied territory, or entrench itself within it?
In Understanding Territorial Withdrawal, Rob Geist Pinfold addresses this research gap. He focuses primarily on Israel, a unique but important milieu that offers pertinent lessons for other states facing similar policy problems. As Pinfold demonstrates, occupiers choose to either perpetuate or abandon an occupation because of three factors: their relations with the occupied, interactions with third parties, and the occupier's domestic politics. He argues that each withdrawal is the culmination of a gradual process of policy re-assessment. Critically, it is a combination of local violence and international pressure that causes popular and elite opinion within the occupier to endorse an exit, rather than perpetuate the status quo. To affirm this pattern, Pinfold constructs a generalizable framework for understanding territorial withdrawal. He then applies this framework to multiple case studies, which include: Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula between 1974-1982; its "unilateral" withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000; and its "unilateral disengagement" from the Gaza Strip in 2005, as well as Israel's non-withdrawals from the West Bank and Golan Heights. Overall, Understanding Territorial Withdrawal delineates commonalities that manifested in each exit yet were absent in the cases of occupation without exit. Dr. Pinfold's book can be purchased here. Use the promotion code ASFLYQ6 for a discount.

 About the Speakers

Dr. Rob Geist Pinfold joined the School of Government and International Affairs in 2022. Alongside his role at Durham, he is a Research Fellow at the Peace Research Center Prague and a Senior Fellow at Charles University's Herzl Center for Israel Studies. Rob holds a Ph.D in War Studies from King’s College London. Previously, he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Haifa. 
Rob is a scholar of international security whose research intersects the study of strategy and territorial conflict. His existing work has focused on two key themes: (i) military occupation and exit dilemmas and (ii) how 'grand strategy' is studied within the academy. His work has been published in International Studies Perspectives, the Journal of Strategic Studies, and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and Mediterranean Politics. His full-length book manuscript, Understanding Territorial Withdrawal: Israeli Occupations and Exits, will be published by Oxford University Press in May, 2023. 

Prof. Dov Waxman (moderator) is the director of the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. He is a Professor of Political Science and The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair of Israel Studies at UCLA. He has also been a visiting fellow at Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Oxford University. Professor Waxman's research focuses on the conflict over Israel-Palestine, Israeli politics and foreign policy, U.S.-Israel relations, American Jewry’s relationship with Israel, Jewish politics, and anti-Semitism. He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles and four books, most recently The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2019). Professor Waxman received his Ph.D. and M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and his B.A. degree from Oxford University.



DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.