Palestine: Part 11 – The Suez Crisis
1949 Armistice Agreements
This was the set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and established Armistice Demarcation Lines between Israeli forces and the forces in Jordanian-held West Bank, also known as the Green Line. The United Nations established supervising and reporting agencies to monitor the established armistice lines.
Tripartite Declaration of 1950
Signed between the United States, Britain, and France pledging to take action within and outside the United Nations to prevent violations of the frontiers or armistice lines. It also outlined their commitment to peace and stability in the area, their opposition to the use or threat of force, and reiterated their opposition to the development of an arms race.
1956 Suez Crisis
A diplomatic and military confrontation in late 1956 emerged with Egypt on one side, and Britain, France and Israel on the other, with the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Nations playing major roles in forcing Britain, France and Israel to withdraw. Historians have focused on Britain’s failure, and typically conclude the crisis, “signified the end of Great Britain’s role as one of the world’s major powers.”
The attack followed Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s decision of 26 July 1956 to nationalize the Suez Canal, after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam, which was in response to Egypt’s new ties with the Soviet Union. The aims of the attack were primarily to regain Western control of the canal and to remove Nasser from power, and the crisis highlighted the danger that Arab nationalism posed to Western access to Middle East oil.
Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel, and then began to bomb Cairo. Despite the denials of the Israeli, British, and French governments, allegations began to emerge that the invasion of Egypt had been planned beforehand by the three powers. Anglo-French forces withdrew before the end of the year, but Israeli forces remained until March 1957, prolonging the crisis. In April, the canal was fully reopened to shipping, but other repercussions followed.
The three allies, especially Israel, were mainly successful in attaining their immediate military objectives, but pressure from the United States and the USSR at the United Nations and elsewhere forced them to withdraw. As a result of the outside pressure, Britain and France failed in their political and strategic aims of controlling the canal and removing Nasser from power. Israel fulfilled some of its objectives, such as attaining freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran. As a result of the conflict, the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF established by United Nations General Assembly to secure an end to the Suez Crisis) would police the Egyptian–Israeli border to prevent both sides from recommencing hostilities.
The foundation of Israel linked to the Palestinian Refugee problem and its participation in the invasion of Egypt during the Suez crisis of 1956 continued to be a significant grievance for the Arab world. Arab nationalists, led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, continued to be hostile to Israel’s existence. By the 1960s, relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors had deteriorated to the extent that a number of border clashes had taken place.
Palestine: Part 12 – The PLO