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.

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Yasser Arafat International Airport

by Elliott Abrams
August 8, 2014


To those unfamiliar with the term, “Yasser Arafat International Airport” must seem like the punch line to some joke about international terrorism.

Yet it existed in Gaza, briefly, and President Clinton and Hillary Clinton visited there in 1998 to stand next to Arafat and cut the ribbon opening the facility. These were the years when Clinton viewed Arafat as the key to peace, and invited him to the White House 13 times – more than any other foreign visitor. The airport was destroyed by Israel in 2001 as part of the reaction to the intifada that Arafat launched after he refused Israel’s offer and rebuffed Clinton’s efforts at Camp David.

One of the most dangerous, and most absurd, Hamas demands right now is that this airport be reopened. I well recall the Palestinian Authority’s requests to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2005 that this airport be put back in service. Forget it, she told the Palestinian leadership: countries such as the United States, Switzerland, and the UK have great problems maintaining airport security. No one is going to trust you to maintain security at an international airport.

Now that was a conversation with the PA leadership, who were pledged to stop and to fight terrorism. Today the demand for an airfield comes from an international terrorist group, Hamas. If this ludicrous demand were met, Hamas would have the honor of being the first terrorist group with its own airport. Not only Israel but every country should reject this demand out of hand. It should not be on the table for serious discussion.

But let’s give credit where it is due. If there were going to be an airport in Gaza, under the control of terrorists, what better name could there possibly be than Yasser Arafat International?

Post a Comment 6 Comments

  • Posted by John

    An airport in Gaza would obviously be tremendously useful to the recovery of Gaza’s economy. Elliott, I recommend that you channel your energies to think of constructive ways in which this could be achieved, such as promoting PA or UN administration of the Strip. As it is, your pseudo ‘analysis’ is tedious and rather child-like.

  • Posted by EthanP

    As disturbing as Hamas’ demand for an airport, as well as their other demands is the fact that so much of the international community and news media give “moral equivalence” to Hamas, a genocidal (it’s in their charter) and Israel, a democracy.

  • Posted by Ian

    Yes, and while we’re at it let’s give ISIS an oil refinery and a chemical weapons factory. Oh, they already nabbed them. American disengagement was such a brilliant idea. (sarc)

  • Posted by steve baker

    Obama-Kerry International Airport?

  • Posted by Michael Kochin

    Not the first. Hezbollah controls Beirut airport.

  • Posted by Peter

    Great post, and great to think back to when Condi had that kind of sand.

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