Protocol of Sèvres

Protocol of Sèvres

The Protocols of Sèvres (French,"Protocoles de Sèvres") was a secret agreement reached between the governments of Israel, France and Great Britain during discussions held in Sèvres, France between 22 and 24 October 1956, regarding a joint politico-military response to Egypt's president Gamal Abdul Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal, which began the Suez Crisis.

èvres meeting

On 22 October, Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion, Director General of the Ministry of Defense Shimon Peres and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Moshe Dayan secretly travelled from Israel to an isolated house in Sèvres to meet the French Minister of Defence Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury, Minister of Foreign Affairs Christian Pineau and Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces General Maurice Challe, and British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd and his assistant Sir Patrick Dean. [" [ Affaire de Suez, Le Pacte Secret] ", Peter Hercombe and Arnaud Hamelin, France 5/Sunset Presse/Transparence, 2006] Together, the diplomats and their aides set out the plan of a two-step invasion of Egypt, first Israel had to attack and then the British-French forces would join in. One of the most painstaking aspects was formulating a plan both Britain and Israel could agree on. The Israelis distrusted the British but, as the French were not prepared to act without their British allies, they were forced to deal with them. The British mantained strong links with a number of Arab countries and did not want any involvement with Israel that might damage them.

After 48 hours of negotiations and compromise the seven points agreement was signed by Ben-Gurion, Pineau and Dean. At the insistence of the Israeli diplomats, wanting to prevent being abandoned in the middle of the invasion, each group left Sèvres with a signed copy, written in French. [ [ Release of Suez records] , British National Archives, December 2006]

British denial

Sir Anthony Eden, the British Prime Minister at the time, denied the existence of such an agreement. In 1956, when Sir Philip stated signed copies of the secret protocols existed, Eden, concerned that revelation of the agreement was a threat to the three governments, sent Dean back to France on the 25 October to collect all copies and leave no trace of the agreements. Christian Pineau at the Quai d'Orsay refused as the Israeli diplomats had already left France. [Turner p.299] The original Israeli copy of the Protocol of Sèvres is said to be kept within the [ Ben-Gurion Archives] , Sde Boker, Israel.

The Protocol in action

Four days later, Israeli forces marched on Egypt. The British and French vetoed an American resolution in the UN Security Council calling for an end to Israeli agresson, and then issued their own call for both Israel and Egypt to withdraw from within 30km of the Suez Canal. When Egypt refused, the British and French launched their own military offensive to secure the Canal zone.



* Turner, Barry. Suez 1956: The First Oil War. Hodder (2007).

ee also

* Suez Crisis
* Entente cordiale

External links

* [ Papers of the Suez Oral History Project]
* [,,1817699,00.html Secrets and lies at the heart of Britain's Middle Eastern folly] - One of the Guardian's special reports on the Suez Crisis.
* [ Avi Shlaim, The Protocol of Sèvres,1956: Anatomy of a War Plot] Published in International Affairs, 73:3 (1997), 509-530
* [ The Dean Memorandum]

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