Thursday, April 20, 2006

When a UK Prime Minister helped Israel steal territory from a neighbour.

A quote from an article by Wilfred P. Deac in the Military History Magazine, 20 April 2006:

It was a classic setting for international intrigue, a tile-roofed villa secluded among fog-swirled trees, ivy clinging to building wings clustered around a stunted steeple-like tower.

The first group of conspirators landed at a French airfield outside Paris and reached the wall-enclosed villa in an unmarked car during the wee hours of October 22, 1956.

Later that Monday morning, French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau visited his office in Paris, then was chauffeured home to switch to his personal car.

He soon was at the villa shaking hands with Israel's 70-year-old Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, eye-patched Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan and Defense Ministry Director-General Shimon Peres.

British Foreign Minister Selwyn Lloyd, a key member of the third group of plotters, called his office in London to say he was staying home with a cold. He left England shortly after, to arrive at the villa that afternoon.

By the time the tense clandestine discussions--which also included French Premier Guy Mollet and British Prime Minister Anthony Eden--ended two days later in France and England, a secret accord had been reached.

Israel wanted an excuse to seize the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula.

Israel held secret talks with Britain and France.

The UK Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, agreed to an illegal joint attack on Egypt.

Egypt was invaded by Israel on 29th October 1956. Two days later British and French bombed Egyptian airfields. British and French troops landed at Port Said at the northern end of the Suez Canal on 5th November. By this time the Israelis had captured the Sinai peninsula.

1. Quotation from an article by Lindsay Frederick Braun in The Historian, 3/22/2003:

Suez reconsidered: Anthony Eden's Orientalism and the Suez crisis ...

"The idea, brought up in conversations at Sevres between 19 and 22 October 1956, was for Israel to invade the Sinai Peninsula as a reprisal for unspecified terrorist acts, at which point the British and French would go through diplomatic motions and end up occupying the Canal Zone...

"The Israelis were to begin on the evening of 29 October, the British and French would deliver ultimatums to Israel and Egypt the following morning, destroy Egypt's air force on the ground early in the morning of 31 October after Nasser's certain rejection of the ultimatum's terms, and follow all of this with landings in the Canal Zone. The agreement on these points was embodied in the Protocol of Sevres, signed on 24 October. The three governments were now linked in the course of intervention and collusion...

"In the event, the Anglo-French landings at the beginning of November were anything but decisive. International outcry--and also notably outrage from within his own party--destroyed Eden's ability to govern. Disapproval from the United States threatened to destroy the British economy."

2. Quotation from Hywel Williams, in the Guardian, 18 October 18, 2001:,1361,576251,00.html

"What undid Eden was collusion. The private agreement was that Israel should issue Egypt with an ultimatum to withdraw from the Suez canal - and do so in terms that invited a rebuff. Britain and France would then have a cloak of morality to come in and 'separate the combatants'".

3. Quotation from Robert Fisk in The Independent, 15 January 2003:

"It rested on a lie – that British and French troops should land in Egypt to "separate" the Egyptian and Israeli armies, even though the British and French had earlier connived at Israel's invasion. Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser was described by the British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, as 'the Mussolini of the Nile' even though, scarcely a year earlier, Eden had warmly shaken Nasser's hand in an exchange of congratulations over a new Anglo-Egyptian treaty – shades of Donald Rumsfeld's chummy meeting with the 'Hitler of Baghdad' in 1983. In the end, British troops – poorly equipped and treating their Egyptian enemies with racial disdain – left in humiliation, digging up their dead comrades from their graves to freight back home lest the Egyptians defiled their bodies...

"There was a secret meeting at Sèvres, outside Paris, in which the Israelis, the British and the French agreed that the Israeli army should invade Egypt and that Britain and France would then intervene, instruct the Israeli and Egyptian armies to withdraw their forces either side of the canal, and then place an Anglo-French intervention force in the Canal Zone around Port Said. 'Operation Musketeer', it would be called, and the British people were duly summoned from their postwar lethargy by newspaper editorials that condemned those who questioned Eden's right to use military force...

"At Gamil airport, a young Egyptian guerrilla was seized by the British, who wanted to know the whereabouts of Egyptian arms stores. He later claimed that one of his eyes was cut out by a British interrogation officer after a paratroop doctor was wounded while dropping by parachute, and the other eye taken out later when he refused to broadcast propaganda for the allies..."


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