Early research primarily focused on Israeli politics, the Middle East Peace Process and conflict studies.
Over time, he has broadened his research to encompass the political and economic issues facing Europe and the Mediterranean.
Most recently published research includes; Anglo-Israeli relations, Arms Sales to Israel, Israeli electoral politics, Israel's Second Lebanon War, the Middle East Peace Process and a comparative study of the peace processes of Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Published journal articles from these research pieces are listed in the Journalism section.
Today, Neill's research focuses primarily in the area of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern history, economics and politics and is something, which is ongoing. Some more detail to his past research projects and the output from this work is available below.
Summary of Current and Past Research
Brazil 1930-1950 and the World War II era
In this comprehensive new research study conducted in both private and public archives in Brazil, Britain, Portugal and the United States, Neill examines Brazil’s role during the period of World War II – extending research to include both the pre-war and post-war periods.
Research looks extensively at Brazil’s neutrality under the authoritarian leadership of the Estado Novo. The relationship and trade links between the Allied and Axis powers during the earlier stages of the war and the subsequent period of 1942-44 to the active participation of Brazil in WWII, that resulted in the United States rewarding Brazil with the creation of cultural, industrial and economic growth – under the ‘Good Neighbour’ programme. The research also examines the question of the Jewish refugees in Brazil, and the bitter campaign Brazilian troops fought in Italy during 1944-45.
The research will result in a major publication Fortunes of War: World War II and the Making of Modern Brazil, which will be published by Basic Books (United States).
Portugal and the Estado Novo – 1933-1974
In this extended study Neill critically analyses unpublished documents from private and public archives in Britain, Portugal and the United States and examines the city of Lisbon (Portugal) during the one of the most controversial periods in its modern history – the period of the Portuguese Estado Novo from 1933-1974.
Research focuses extensively on the development the city of Lisbon during the 40 years under the authoritarian leadership of the Estado Novo. The importance and relevance of the city to European history is traced through its role in the Spanish Civil War, neutrality in World War II, the post-war period and the onset of the Cold War, the formation of NATO and its base in Lisbon through to the early stages of Portuguese Decolonization. Neill examines the perceptions of the foreign leaders, heads of state and international personalities who visited the city. The presence of these people in the city was not a coincidence, rather a reflection of the strategic importance of Europe’s most westerly capital city during this time.
One core aspect delves further behind the question of Portuguese neutrality and the issues of Jewish refugees in Lisbon during World War II.
The research also examines the seemingly contradictory story of a country that became increasingly isolated diplomatically during the period of the Estado Novo while at the same time generating cultural, industrial and economic growth.
The resulting book for this research is published in Portuguese in November 2013. A dedicated page with further backgrond on the book "Lisboa: A Cidade Vista de Fora, 1933-1974" (Outside Looking In) can be found on this website. Please go to >> Outside Looking In.
Portugal 1939-45: Neutrality and the Jewish refugees
Neill delved behind the question of Portuguese neutrality and the issues of Jewish refugees in Lisbon during World War II. Focusing on the context of the trade, economic and naval war between the Allies and the Axis powers during the short, but intensive, six-year period of 1939-1945.
Using recently released and unpublished documentation, from this extensive research project Neill has produced a major publication: Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light 1939-45, an international photographic exhibition (Lisbon: Bottleneck of Europe in WWII), as well as a string of articles in the Wall Street Journal, which look at the more contemporary issues facing Portugal today.
The Foreign Office and Israel: Anglo-Israeli Relations 1948-Present
The archival research took some 18 months to conduct in London and Jerusalem and draws upon documentary sources, many of which had never been used before.
The resulting book, Loaded Dice, was effectively the first attempt to chronicle the 60-year period of the history of British Israeli bilateral relations and the impact of the relationship upon the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Many of the documents contained very interesting new additions to the existing body of knowledge about Anglo-Israeli relations. Through the Freedom of Information Act, Neill secured the release of a number of new previously unseen documents from the British Foreign Office, which helped the book make a major contribution to the research environment on this important area of British bilateral relations.
Additionally, Neill was able to secure the release of a number of private papers from the archives of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – which specifically covered Israel and the Middle East peace process. Her papers were very important in highlighting, for the first time, a very new narrative of the Thatcher era in terms of Britain’s relations with Israel and the Arab world.
Loaded Dice: the Foreign Office and Israel (2007) represents the first publication from this project. Neill is currently working on a new manuscript, which looks at the policies of the various Prime Minister’s of Britain towards the Middle East since 1948.
No Longer Dominant, Playing for Second: the Israeli Labour Party in the 2006 Election
This research examined the reasons why the Israeli Labour Party appeared to be in steep decline within the Israeli political system. Following on from his first publication in 1997, which dealt with the reasons for the Israeli Labour Party’s decline in 1977 and its failure to return to power until 1992, this new research (conducted 2006) involved looking at demographic data on voting patterns as well as the voting data from the actual election itself.
In addition, Neill conducted interviews with senior figures within the Israeli Labour Party asking them to make judgements for the seeming continued decline of the party. These interviews, which took place over four months, included leading political and party machine officials in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The research resulted in the publication of a refereed journal article, and also subsequently a chapter in the aforementioned book.
The Politics and Economics of Israeli Disengagement from the West Bank and Gaza Strip
Examined the linkage between political and economic developments in Israel and the Palestinian Territories regarding Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, and in particular disengagement.
The project made use of primary source material from the Bank of Israel and international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to present a series of new arguments as to the difficulties of a (potential) Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and (actual) withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Put simply, the project explored the economic consequences of a military and political withdrawal from these territories. This research project produced a refereed journal article, which was published in January 2007.
The Role of the Soviet Aliyah in Shaping Israeli Policies towards the Middle East Peace Process
Several scholars have looked at the impact of the Soviet Aliyah on Israeli society (Aliyah = wave of Jewish immigration to Israel). These studies have tended to centre on how the Aliyah has been absorbed into Israeli society and its current economic status.
In this study, Neill chose a new approach, a look at how the Soviet Aliyah impacted upon the Israeli policy towards the Middle East peace process. This influence appeared to be threefold. It came from the voting patterns of the Soviet Aliyah in influencing the result of elections, the role of Soviet immigrant parties in the coalition formation process, and through the influence of politicians such as Nathan Sharansky in helping to shape Israeli policy towards the conflict.
In undertaking this study, Neill made use of primary source material from the Israeli Ministry of Absorption and looked specifically at the voting patterns of immigrants in elections (1992, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2006).
The project produced an extended refereed journal article (13,000 words).
Comparative Peacemaking in Northern Ireland and in the Middle East
Analysed the various aspects of peacemaking that are relevant to both the Northern Ireland and Middle East conflicts.
While some commentators and scholars argue that the conflicts can be directly compared, Neill took a fresh view that given their distinctive histories and differences in recent negotiation strategies that this is very difficult.
This project looked at the success, and failure, of interim stage agreements such as the Oslo Accords and the Good Friday Agreement, the role of external parties in shaping peace negotiations, and the methods used for dealing with rejectionist groups who do not sign up or subscribe to the various peace agreements. It also attempted to provide a blueprint for more successful peacemaking strategies.
The resulting article from this project was published in a refereed journal.
View from the Fence and Israel’s Second Lebanon War
The purpose of the research project, which led to the publication of the book The View from the Fence, was to look at the significance of the construction of the security fence by Israel in the West Bank.
It highlighted the fact that the construction of the fence was a reaction to a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel at the start of the decade. On a deeper level, however, it was also a reflection of the decision of Israeli policymakers to adopt strategy of separation - or divorce - from the Palestinians as opposed to integration.
The resulting book concluded with the fact that the construction of the fence, while understandable from the Israeli perspective, was very much a one-dimensional solution. It argued that the Palestinian groups were likely to change their strategy by starting to use missile technology. For the updated and expanded edition of the book, Neill conducted further research into the causes and consequences of Israel’s Second Lebanon War. This project focused primarily on the role of missile warfare in the Middle East.
The Middle East Peace Process
The period between 2002-2005 was largely spent a working on projects related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East peace process.
During this period, Neill produced a detailed account of the history of Israel and the issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Why Blame Israel? The aim of the book was to effectively present the arguments of the conflict in a coherent and understandable way. The project challenged some of the conventional wisdom regarding the conflict, particularly aspects of the peacemaking strategies employed since 1990.
Additionally, Neill conducted research into Israel’s electoral system and in particular the difficulties it was causing to the Middle East peace process. This research project resulted in a refereed journal article, and also a chapter in a book.
Israeli Politics and the Middle East Peace Process
During 1997 and 1999 Neill worked on a research project, which resulted in a book that examined the major aspects of the Middle East peace process. A principal aim of the book was to look at a specific period, which ran from the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin (1995) until the end of the decade.
The issues researched included status of Jerusalem, the question of the borders of a Palestinian state and Israel’s relations with the non-Arab world in the Middle East. Also, all the various tracks of the Middle East peace process, Israel-Syria, Israel-Lebanon and the Israeli-Jordanian relations were examined.
The research, which was based on political, historical and economic data, was published as a book The Difficult Road to Peace: Netanyahu Israel and the Middle East Peace Process (1999).
The Israeli Party System and Party Systems
This was a research project into the Israeli Labour Party and its loss of power in 1977. The project looked at the reasons for the decline of the party and its eventual electoral defeat in 1977, as well as reasons why it did not return to power in its own right until 1992.
The resulting book, The Israeli Labour Party, focussed on party systems and Maurice Duverger’s theory of dominant party systems. It argued that the Labour Party in Israel, even though it was no longer dominant after the 1977 defeat, continued to act as a dominant party without power. This was a relatively new concept in party systems, and therefore the book made a particular contribution to the development of knowledge.