Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Nabil Sha’ath and the Sad Story of Palestinian “Leadership”

by Elliott Abrams Friday, November 30, 2012

Nabil Sha’ath has been a top Palestinian official for decades, serving as foreign minister, ambassador to the UN, planning minister, and in many other posts. He has been in the Fatah Party Central Committee and the Palestine Legislative Council. He accompanied Yasser Arafat to the United Nations as early as 1974. He was for years a key negotiator with Israel, and was a central figure in the PLO’s delegation at the Madrid Conference. My own experience with him was in 2003, when he was part of a Palestinian delegation to Washington. There he was one of several Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders who met with President Bush. Afterwards, Sha’ath told the press the following: Read more »

The UN Honor Roll

by Elliott Abrams Friday, November 30, 2012

The honor roll of countries that voted with the United States and Israel against the PLO’s foolish initiative in the UN General Assembly  is small. In addition to the Pacific island nations that always vote with the United States, there are only Canada, Panama, and the Czech Republic. Good for them for resisting the temptation to abstain, which is what was done by forty-one countries. Some were predictable, while others were disappointments: Australia, Germany, and Colombia, for example. Read more »

The “Palestine” Vote at the United Nations

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tomorrow the UN General Assembly is scheduled to vote on “non-member state” status for “Palestine.” That vote will lift the status of the PLO, which is now an observer, but will do nothing for Palestinians.

I’ve discussed this issue in detail in a previous post, and argued that Israeli and American reactions should not be excessive. This is a foolish move by the PLO leadership but not necessarily a very consequential one. It all depends on what follows: does the PLO, now called “Palestine” at the UN General Assembly, engage in “lawfare” against Israel? Does it rush to the International Criminal Court [ICC] to seek indictments of every Israeli general? Read more »

Technology and Terror

by Elliott Abrams Monday, November 26, 2012

The success of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system is one of the great stories to emerge from the Gaza conflict, but its importance may still have been underestimated.

First, even enthusiasts for Iron Dome tend to exaggerate its variable costs. It is often said that Hamas can make rockets and mortars very cheaply, while each interceptor rocket fired by Iron Dome costs as much as $50,000. But a recent column in the Jerusalem Post (found here) points out that such figures include the system’s development costs to date. Procurement of future interceptors will cost far less and economies of scale will soon be reflected; per unit cost may fall to $5,000 or far less. Meanwhile the estimated cost to Iran and Hamas of the Fajr rockets they fired at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv often does not include the cost of smuggling them from Iran to Sudan to Egypt to Gaza, including all the expenses and bribes along the way. Read more »

Alan Gross, Vilma Castro, and America’s Cuba Policy

by Elliott Abrams Friday, November 16, 2012

Alan Gross is a former USAID contractor who has been in a Cuban jail since December 3, 2009.  The most recent reports are that he has lost 105 pounds while in prison, and may well be suffering from untreated cancer.

Vilma Rodriguez Castro is the granddaughter of Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and the man now running the communist dictatorship. Read more »

Why Did Hamas Provoke a Conflict?

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, November 15, 2012

There is a conflict now between Israel and Hamas because Hamas insisted on starting one. After relatively few rocket and mortar strikes into Israel in 2010 and 2011, Hamas increased the numbers strikingly this year, and finally fired more than 100 into Israel this past weekend. This was a deliberate effort by Hamas to elicit an Israeli response, for it was obvious that as the numbers grew any Israeli government would have to protect its population. One must assume that if Israel had not responded to the hundred rockets last weekend, Hamas would have upped the ante even more until it got what it wanted. Read more »

On Winning Reelection to the UN Human Rights Council

by Elliott Abrams Monday, November 12, 2012

Once upon a time, the United Nations had a Human Rights Commission. The United States left it because it spent most of its time condemning Israel, and elected some of the worst human rights abusers in the world to membership. In 2005, for example, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba were members, making the organization a farce. Read more »