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Event Summary

On Tuesday, as Palestinian militants launched rockets and Israel resumed airstrikes, Egypt’s proposal for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas collapsed. On Wednesday morning, AEI’s Danielle Pletka hosted Elliott Abrams of the Council on Foreign Relations and Ghaith al Omari of the American Task Force on Palestine for a conversation on the recent escalation of conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip. 

Al Omari emphasized that Hamas has thus far miscalculated its strategy but is still attempting to construct a narrative of victory. The tenuousness of that narrative influenced Hamas’s decision to turn down the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, he said. Al Omari pointed out that Hamas leaders have also not sufficiently mobilized the Arab world, which limits their options and reduces their leverage.

Abrams argued that over the course of this war, nothing has changed to make a comprehensive peace agreement possible. In the next few weeks, US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration must think more pragmatically to improve the position of the Palestinian National Authority in Gaza. Al Omari added that it would be beneficial for the US to tackle issues of poor governance and work to institution build in Gaza.
–Alex Della Rocchetta

Event Description 

Against the backdrop of rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions after the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank and the retaliatory murder of a Palestinian youth, the military and political confrontation between Hamas and Israel shows no signs of abating. Targeting civilians, Hamas has shot hundreds of rockets with increasing reach into Israel, and the Israel Defense Forces, which this week began Operation Protective Edge, continues to hit Palestinian targets in a bid to halt escalating cross-border attacks. Meanwhile, President Obama has called for both Israelis and Palestinians to put an end to acts of retribution.

We welcome you to join us for a discussion among Middle East policy experts to explore what the US can do to halt the latest bout of Israel-Hamas violence.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


9:15 AM

9:30 AM
Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations
Ghaith al Omari, American Task Force on Palestine

Danielle Pletka, AEI

10:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Alex Della Rocchetta at [email protected], 202.862.7152.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speakers Biographies

Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised US policy in the Middle East for the White House. Abrams joined the Bush administration in June 2001 as special assistant to the president and senior director for democracy, human rights, and international organizations at the National Security Council (NSC). From 2002 to 2005, he served as special assistant to the president and senior director of the NSC for Near East and North African affairs. Abrams was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, from 1996 until he joined the White House staff in 2001. He was a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001 and chairman of the commission in 2001. He teaches US foreign policy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Ghaith Al-Omari is executive director at the American Task Force on Palestine. Before that, he served in various positions within the Palestinian Authority, including director of the international relations department in the office of the Palestinian president and adviser to former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. In these capacities, he provided advice on foreign policy — especially regarding the United States and Israel — and security. He has extensive experience in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, having been an adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team throughout the permanent status negotiations (1999–2001). In that capacity, he participated in various negotiating rounds, most notably the Camp David summit and the Taba talks. After the breakdown of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, he was the lead Palestinian drafter of the Geneva Initiative, an unofficial model peace agreement negotiated between leading Palestinian and Israeli public figures. Before his involvement in the Middle East peace process, he taught international law in Jordan and was active in human rights advocacy.

Danielle Pletka was a long-time US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia. In that role, Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel, and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia (Pakistan, India and Afghanistan). Pletka is the coeditor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the coauthor of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.

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