ABEL is currently at the beginning of the design phase at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canaris. The instrument will be equipped with the 256 X 256 Santa Barbara Research Corporation InSb FPA which will provide a working spectral range from 1 to 5 microns. For image mode three different platescales are envisaged: 0.2 inch/pixel, to be used in the thermal IR to avoid detector saturation; 0.4 inch/pixel, which will allow for sufficient sampling of the median seeing limited images below 2.5 microns; and 1.0 inch/pixel, which will be the standard in spectroscopic operations and during wide field imaging. For spectroscopy, a standard moderate spectral resolution of about 400 will be available in the JHKLM windows, which will be all fully covered in a single exposure. Additional higher spectral resolution is under consideration, which at least double. ABEL will offer a wide variety of slit widths and shapes, ranging from 1 inch to 3 inches, and including dog-leg shape. The thermal design is based on a two stages closed cycle cooler, the first stage being used for the passive optics while the second will cool directly the detector to about 30 to 40 K. The instrument is planned for the late 99 and a major cooperation with the Osservatorio de Arcetri is underway. ABEL will be installed in the f/13.8 Cassegrain focus of the 1.5m Telescopio Carlos Sanchez, at the Spanish Observatorio de El Teide, in the canarian island of Tenerife.