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.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Palestinian Authority"

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
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 »

Casualties in Gaza

by Elliott Abrams

International concern for casualties in Gaza is growing, as the death toll there exceeds 200. And most of the casualties are civilians, say various left-wing and anti-Israel news sources–as well as, of course, Hamas itself. And, unsurprisingly, the United Nations: “77 per cent of fatalities since the start of Operation Protective Edge on 7 July have been civilians.” Read more »

Will Hamas Choose War?

by Elliott Abrams

As the United States enters the July Fourth weekend, the Hamas leadership in Gaza faces a difficult and potentially important decision.

The last couple of years have hurt Hamas. The level of support it receives from Iran has declined, so it is short of cash. The Egyptian Army has closed the smuggling tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, further hurting the Gaza economy and Hamas’s tax revenues. The kidnappings in the West Bank last month turned into a disaster for Hamas: instead of having captives to trade for Israeli prisoners, Hamas was condemned universally for the crimes and suffered severe blows to its organization in both the West Bank and Gaza. Read more »

Facts on the Ground: the Israeli Settlement Slowdown

by Elliott Abrams

Criticism of construction in Israeli settlements has grown in the last five years, not least in Washington–but in this same period Israel has been focusing more and more of the construction in less and less of the West Bank. In a new article at the Foreign Affairs web site entitled “Facts on the Ground: Inside Israel’s Settlement Slowdown,” Uri Sadot and I explain the story Here are some excerpts: Read more »

The New Palestinian Government

by Elliott Abrams

In this week’ s edition of  The Weekly Standard, an article entitled “Dangerous Unity,”  I discuss the new Palestinian government. Here’s the basic argument:

The new PA government is a non-party, “technocratic” cabinet– and not a Hamas government or one with Hamas participation. For that reason I think the Israeli official reaction is a mistake: it treats this government exactly as it would treat a true coalition government of Fatah and Hamas, where Hamas held seats in the PA parliament and held ministerial or vice-ministerial positions in the government. Read more »