Gamal Abdel Nasser on the Nationalization of the Suez Canal

(1956)

Impact

The nationalization of the Suez Canal struck a serious blow to British economic interests in the Middle East. Some members of Parliament believed that the only appropriate response was military action. Britain, however, lacked support from the United States and did not want to further damage its relationship with the Arab nations. Accordingly, it conducted secret talks with Israel and France to decide on a course of action. Diplomatic representatives from Britain, the United States, and France held meetings in London. Meanwhile, the United States discreetly sought a way to resolve the crisis peacefully, but these efforts proved to be unavailing.

In October 1956 representatives from Britain, France, and Israel (including Israel's prime minister, David Ben-Gurion) met in the French town of Sèvres. After two days of discussion, the parties agreed to the Protocol of Sèvres, which was signed on October 24. Under the terms of this agreement, Israeli forces would invade and...

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The Red Sea at the entrance to the Suez Canal (Library of Congress)

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