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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Showing posts for "Gaza"

Gaza: More Negotiations

by Elliott Abrams

With Ban ki-Moon and John Kerry arriving in Cairo today, there will be lots of talk about a cease-fire deal. It is important that the United States keep Egypt in the forefront, and keep using the term “cease-fire.”

As to Egypt, it is not only that the Egyptian government shares our own view of Hamas as a terrorist group whose influence and military capabilities must be fought. That alone is a reason for the United States to want Egypt, not Qatar or Turkey, to be central. It is also that Egypt has genuine national security interests at stake here because it is a neighbor to Gaza. Terrorist activities in Gaza and Sinai matter to Egypt in a way that they do not to Qatar or Turkey. Any agreement that improves Hamas’s chances of importing more weaponry harms Egypt’s security, and the Egyptians have a right to a say in this. Read more »

Egyptian Realities

by Elliott Abrams

It would be far easier to understand Egypt if the trend lines pointed up or down, rather than presenting an immensely complex picture. But consider two groups of issues: relations with Hamas, and respect for human rights.

It was reasonable to assume that a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt would be very much more accommodating to Hamas than the Mubarak regime had been–and Hamas so assumed. But in the last week we have seen two striking decisions by the Morsi government and the Egyptian military. First, they have once again refused to allow Hamas to open an office in Cairo. The Jerusalem Post reported as follows: Read more »

Gaza: “Decorators Are Never Available”

by Elliott Abrams

On October 20 Israel intercepted the latest in a series of vessels seeking to break its maritime blockade of Gaza. This ship, the MV Estelle, carried five European parliamentarians and a former Canadian member of parliament. The ostensible purpose of these visits, mostly by European “activists,” is to draw attention to the horrendous, horrible, impossible isolation and the desperate humanitarian conditions there, all imposed by the Israeli blockade. Read more »

Israel and Gaza

by Elliott Abrams
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (L) and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani arrive at a cornerstone laying ceremony for Hamad, a new residential neighborhood in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 23, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Mohammed Salem). Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (L) and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani arrive at a cornerstone laying ceremony for Hamad, a new residential neighborhood in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip October 23, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Mohammed Salem).

The recent upsurge of mortars and rockets being fired into Israel from Gaza, the strong Israeli military reaction, and the possibility that a stronger reaction may yet come, have raised once again the issue of Israel’s relationship with the small area many Israelis call Hamastan. The visit to Gaza this week of the Emir of Qatar, who was the first foreign head of state to go there since Hamas took over in 2007 and who pledged $400 million in aid to Gaza, has also put the region back on the front pages. Read more »

Morsi’s Tests: Hamas and Sinai

by Elliott Abrams
Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza after Egypt closed the crossing following the deadly attack on its soldiers on Sunday, August 6, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Stringer). Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza after Egypt closed the crossing following the deadly attack on its soldiers on Sunday, August 6, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Stringer).

Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, acted with unexpected energy and speed to remove the top ranks of Egypt’s military this weekend. But he has not yet disclosed what his policy will be toward the linked tests of Hamas and Sinai.

After the terrorist attack that killed 16 Egyptian border police, Morsi reacted with strong words and visited northern Sinai with Field Marshal Tantawi–then the head of the Egyptian military, now cashiered by Morsi. Several days of strong military action followed, including the first use of jets and helicopter gunships in Sinai since the 1973 war. Read more »