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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Israel, Secrecy, and American Meddling

by Elliott Abrams

The Israeli Knesset has just passed a law requiring that NGOs who receive more than half their budget from foreign governments and organizations state this publicly. A clamor has arisen, with critics denouncing the new legislation as anti-democratic.

This strikes me as ridiculous, and let’s do some hypotheticals. The UK is facing the Brexit referendum, and the government of France secretly funds pro-Remain groups. Is that fair or democratic? In the past decade several states in our country held referenda over same-sex marriage. How would we feel if it turned out groups proposing a “yes” vote had been funded by the government of Sweden? We would feel, as the Brits would feel in my first example, that our internal debate was being thwarted and distorted by foreigners. That is precisely how the Israeli lawmakers who voted for the new law felt. Prime Minister Netanyahu said the new law will “prevent an absurd situation in which foreign countries meddle in the internal affairs of Israel.” He’s right. Read more »

Nicaragua’s Sad Story Continues

by Elliott Abrams

Nicaraguans go to the polls in a few months, but not for a free election.

A group of Nicaraguan writers, intellectuals, and civil society leaders have written an open letter describing and decrying the conditions under which Nicaraguans will vote.  The key line: they urge their fellow citizens to “reject the electoral farce the ruling group is trying to impose on us. If this farce is finally carried out, the results should be considered null and void.” Read more »

Iran Is Cheating on the Nuclear Deal

by Elliott Abrams

The greatest imminent danger in last year’s nuclear deal, the JCPOA, was always that Iran would cheat–taking all the advantages of the deal, but then seeking to move forward more quickly toward a nuclear weapon–and that the Obama administration would be silent in the face of that cheating. Read more »

Israel to Head UN Committee for the First Time: So Much for Isolation

by Elliott Abrams

The argument that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the world took another blow this month when–for the first time in the history of the United Nations and of Israel–the Israeli ambassador was elected to head one of the UN’s permanent committees.  This the Legal Committee, also called the “Sixth Committee,” and its covers the United Nations’ international law operations–which include matters related to terrorism and to the Geneva Conventions. Read more »

Abbas Spurns Rivlin’s Hand–and Peace

by Elliott Abrams

Since leaving the White House in January, 2009, I’ve been telling audiences that Palestinian president and PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas will never, never sign a peace agreement with Israel–no matter what its content.

Those still in doubt might reflect on the events of this week. Abbas and Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, were both in Brussels, and European President Martin Schulz thought it would be nice to get them together. Rivlin’s post is ceremonial, but that’s all the more reason for a ceremonial gesture toward reconciliation. Abbas simply refused. Rabin could shake the hand of the terrorist Arafat, but Abbas could not shake the hand of the ex-parliamentarian, now president, Rivlin. Read more »

Bahrain Slips Further into Repression

by Elliott Abrams

The Project on Middle East Democracy sums up the week in Bahrain:

First, “A Bahraini court ordered the suspension of all activities by al-Wefaq, the island-nation’s largest opposition party. The Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry, which asked the court to issue the order, said al-Wefaq’s shuttering was needed to “safeguard the security of the kingdom….” Read more »