Cutting the Losses

  • Uri Bialer
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


As indicated above, a complete impasse seemed inevitable if Britain continued to play according to its own rules of the game. Bevin certainly considered them appropriate and clung to them even on the rare occasions when his policy was challenged by colleagues. One such occasion occurred in mid-January 1950 when the Minister of State, McNeil, informed Bevin, who was en route to Cairo, that the Prime Minister and the Economic Policy Committee would like him to raise the question of the reopening of the refinery with Nahas Pasha, leader of the Wafd Party. The Committee ‘strongly felt that we had been patient with Egypt and that you might now be able to persuade them to give way on the Canal’.1 Bevin replied that he would ‘do his best’ but the concluding remarks of his cable indicated the opposite — ‘it should not be overlooked that Israel has so far flouted or ignored every United Nations recommendation’. In a subsequent House of Commons debate, Bevin made no effort to disguise his attitude, referring to ‘instructions’ given to him to raise the issue with the Egyptian politician, who had ‘argued cogently and legally… declining to yield on that point.’ The Foreign Minister revealed candidly to the House his uncritical approach to one of the major obstacles preventing the settlement of the refinery and pipeline issue. He commented that

like the rest of us… Iraq has her comrades in the Arab world and one of the difficulties is that none of them will be accused of letting down the other. That is not a bad trait. I grew up in a school that rather practised things like that… and therefore I can quite understand their feelings in this matter.2


Arab World Foreign Minister Suez Canal Pipeline Issue Dangerous Precedent 
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Copyright information

© Uri Bialer 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Uri Bialer
    • 1
  1. 1.Hebrew UniversityJerusalemIsrael

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