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Independent Israel and the Suez Crisis

Declaration of an independent Israel

On 14 May 1948, immediately after the Jewish leadership declared Israel to be independent, the surrounding Arab states invaded Palestine. Many Palestinian Arabs moved to the West Bank in the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict and fighting continued for almost a year. In early 1949 Israel took control of Palestine, with the exception of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank territory held by Jordan. Taking care not to incite conflict and threaten British interests in the Middle East, Britain continued to support the establishment of a Jewish state.

Britain, Israel and the Suez Crisis

The British government formally recognised the State of Israel in 1950, and Britain, France and the United States made a Tripartite Agreement to encourage peace in the Middle East. Britain supported the union of the West Bank with Jordan.

During the 1950s Britain's commitment to protect Jordan against aggression under terms of the 1948 Anglo-Jordanian Treaty meant it held a complex position. While coordinating its policy with that of the US, Britain maintained its military presence in Jordan. A build up of arms in the Middle East was accompanied by a high state of tension between Israel and the surrounding Arab states.

During the Suez Crisis of 1956 Israel assisted Britain and France in their attempt to seize control of the canal. After the forced withdrawal of Britain under pressure from the US, Israel retreated from the Sinai Peninsula. Despite the expiry of the Anglo-Jordanian Treaty in 1957, Jordan remained a focus for British interest in the Middle East. When revolution in Iraq threatened to destabilise Jordan in 1958, the British government sent troops to support King Hussein.