chapter  8
26 Pages

The Sinai War, 1956: Three Partners, Three Wars

The most recent historical research on the Sinai War provides telling descriptions of the war as a coalition endeavour involving Britain, France and Israel. This basic fact was denied for years by the three governments. There appears to be little to add to the historiographic discussion on the partnership as such.1 However, the question of the character borne by the partnership has yet to be fully addressed. Various studies have described and analysed the vicissitudes of the political-diplomatic process that preceded the final decision to go to war. Similarly, the different motives of each of the three partners has been dealt with. In this chapter I will argue that the application of the Sevres agreement during the war (29 October-6 November 1956) demonstrated clearly, not to say flagrantly in some cases, the differences of motivation, the divergent interests and the separate goals of each of the three nations that sent their armed forces into war. From many points of view the military collaboration was a moment of truth, when it was no longer possible to conceal the fact that each of the three ostensible partners had compartmentalized the other two and that the communications between the three nations that were supposedly fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against Nasser’s Egypt were, at best, fraught with misunderstandings and half-truths. What follows will highlight the disparities between the three partners; the focus will be on Israel’s perception of the military collaboration, though similar problems can also be identified with regard to both Britain and France.