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 "Middle East"

Which Side Is UNRWA On?

by Elliott Abrams

The war in Gaza has brought UNRWA, the UN agency dealing with Palestinian “refugees,” back into the news– mostly because UNRWA schools were used to shoot rockets at Israel.

The failings of UNRWA were examined here (“Ending UNRWA and Advancing Peace“)  in December, 2011, although today they seem even worse. The UNRWA employees union is under Hamas control, and it’s clear that the staff is riddled with Hamas “activists.” The Israeli commentator and former Knesset member Einat Wilf wrote yesterday that
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On Attacking the “Islamic State” in Syria

by Elliott Abrams

The threat to the United States and to American interests from the “Islamic State” is now obvious and has been acknowledged by President Obama and his entire administration. The Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security have stated that there is a threat to the homeland, and the President has spoken about the brutality of this group in commenting on its beheading of the American journalist James Foley. Read more »

Yasser Arafat International Airport

by Elliott Abrams

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. Read more »

The Gaza War and the Feeble PA

by Elliott Abrams

The Gaza war took a new turn today, when Hamas violated a cease-fire in order to kill and capture IDF soldiers. The reasonable conclusion to draw is that Hamas’s agreement to the cease-fire was a ruse, meant to give them this opportunity.

That action has several effects beyond destroying the cease-fire itself and prolonging the war. It certainly solidifies Israeli public backing for the war, which was extremely high anyway. The nature of the enemy is made even clearer. The contemptible nature of so much of the criticism of Israel around the world is also made clearer, coming from voices that appear indifferent to the nature and conduct of Hamas, to Israeli deaths, and to the deaths of Arabs anywhere else—in Syria, for example—as long as Jews are not responsible for those deaths and if there’s no opportunity to criticize Israel. Read more »

Gaza: the EU’s Split Personality and America’s Failed UN Human Rights Council Experiment

by Elliott Abrams

In the course of the Gaza war, several key European leaders have made tough, sensible statements supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and demanding a cease fire that does not give in to Hamas demands. Chancellor Merkel said Germany “stand[s] by the side of Israel” and noted that the weapons used by Hamas were of “a completely new quality.” French President Hollande said Israel had the right to use “all the necessary measures” to protect itself from rockets and missiles. Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said “Everybody in the UK and the west is appalled by the scenes coming out of Gaza but every country has the right to defend itself against attack.” Read more »

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 »

Why Hamas Wants an Invasion

by Elliott Abrams

In rejecting the Egyptian proposal for a cease fire, Hamas appears to be rejecting the only way to avoid an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza. It is still possible that a cease fire will be put back together today, but time is running out to avoid that ground attack. Israel cannot keep 40,000 reservists sitting around for weeks while Hamas rockets fly. Read more »

Why Did Hamas Provoke a War?

by Elliott Abrams

The current battles between Israel and Hamas were provoked by Hamas. Why?

When increased levels of rocket fire began about a week ago, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu responded with restraint. He sent clear messages to Hamas in public statements, and via Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt, that he wanted no war, and no incursion into Gaza; if the rocket attacks ended, this confrontation would be over. Read more »