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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Why the News Stories About Sanctioning Israel?

by Elliott Abrams
December 9, 2014


There were several news stories over the last week suggesting that the Obama administration is considering some form of sanctions against Israel to punish it for “settlement construction.” One story, in the Washington Free Beacon, was typical in noting reports that the administration “is considering imposing sanctions on Israel for continuing construction on Jewish homes in Jerusalem.” Ha’aretz, the Israeli newspaper, headlined its story “U.S. mulls harsher action against settlement construction.”

At first glance this is all incomprehensible. Congress would never permit such sanctions against Israel and would act to block them. Moreover, Israel is about to enter an election period and such moves are always suspended or delayed until a new government is formed.

So what could possibly be the administration’s goal in “mulling” sanctions and seeing such stories appear in the press?

Simple: giving a signal to Europe. The debate is hot and heavy in Europe right now about sanctions, BDS, and recognition of a Palestinian state. There is no way for the administration to intervene in that debate on the anti-Israel side–except these news stories suggesting how angry it is at the government of Israel. That support for Israel in Congress means no such sanctions are possible would not deter the Europeans; in fact it would spur them on to do what they might believe the president would do if he only could get past the “Israel lobby.”

It’s possible that even in Europe the energy behind such moves will diminish now, as Israeli elections near. But news stories about mulling of sanctions in Washington will always give additional ideas and energy to anti-Israel forces. The White House should make it crystal clear that it is considering no such action, was never considering such action, and believes that such sanctions are wrong and harmful.

Post a Comment 4 Comments

  • Posted by Sheila Novitz

    The White House will not make anything crystal clear if it could possibly be to the benefit of Israel and the Jewish people. Barack Obama and his cronies have set out to damage Israel, and while he sits back glorying in what remains of his power, he and his pals will do everything possible to cause us as much harm as possible. Even if it is just words, words, words.

  • Posted by Barry Meislin

    “The White House should make it crystal clear that it is considering no such action, was never considering such action, and believes that such sanctions are wrong and harmful.”

    All fine and good.

    Except that the thuggish cabal in the White House DOES NOT consider such sanctions to be wrong and harmful.

    The opposite in fact.

    Their inspired goal is to “save Israel from itself”—to persuade, convince, encourage, cajole, threaten and ultimately force Israel to agree to its own destruction (all for the right reasons of course, which is this administration’s tried, true and tested modus operandi).

    That’s right: the WH cabal’s definition of “peace” and “justice” is the precisely Palestinian definition. And no amount of wishful (or rational or judicious) thinking will change that.

    (This is the major reason why Obama is essentially assisting the mullah’s to go nuclear. Call it “going that extra mile for peace…”)

    And so, peace in our time.

  • Posted by EMT

    Let’s wait and see .

  • Posted by Leon Poddebsky

    Can someone please explain why the Israeli communities in Judea / Samaria (“the West Bank”), which did not seem to concern Europe or the USA for decades, have suddenly become so contentious in recent years?
    Even Yasser Arafat never brought them up as an issue. They are not mentioned in the Oslo Accords, nor in Security Council Resolution 242.
    By the way, they are legal by virtue of the 1922 Mandate for “Palestine,” by historic justice, arguably also by virtue of SCResolution 242, which prescribes “secure and recognised boundaries” for israel.

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