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The Sinai-Suez Campaign: President Eisenhower & PM Ben-Gurion on Israeli Withdrawal from Sinai

(November 7-8, 1956)

On November 7, 1956, President Eisenhower addressed a note to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in which he advised Israel to abide by the United Nations Resolutions and withdraw its forces from Egyptian territory. Owing to communication delays, the message was received in Israel on November 8. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion informed the President that Israel would withdraw its forces when the appropriate arrangements were made with the United Nations regarding the entry of the international force into the Suez Canal zone.

President Eisenhower to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion
November 7, 1956:

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

As you know, the General Assembly of the United Nations has arranged a cease-fire in Egypt to which Egypt, France, the United Kingdom and Israel have agreed. There is being dispatched to Egypt a United Nations force in accordance with pertinent resolutions of the General Assembly. That body has urged that all other foreign forces be withdrawn from Egyptian territory, and specifically, that Israeli forces be withdrawn to the General Armistice line. The resolution covering the cease-fire and withdrawal was introduced by the United States and received the overwhelming vote of the Assembly.

Statements attributed to your Government to the effect that Israel does not intend to withdraw from Egyptian territory, as requested by the United Nations, have been called to my attention. I must say frankly, Mr. Prime Minister, that the United States views these reports, if true, with deep concern. Any such decision by the Government of Israel would seriously undermine the urgent efforts being made by the United Nations to restore peace in the Middle East, and could not but bring about the condemnation of Israel as a violator of the principles as well as the directives of the United Nations.

It is our belief that as a matter of highest priority peace should be restored and foreign troops, except for United Nations forces, withdrawn from Egypt, after which new and energetic steps should be undertaken within the framework of the United Nations to solve the basic problems which have given rise to the present difficulty. The United States has tabled in the General Assembly two resolutions designed to accomplish the latter purposes, and hopes that they will be acted upon favorably as soon as the present emergency has been dealt with.

I need not assure you of the deep interest which the United States has in your country, nor recall the various elements of our policy of support to Israel in so many ways. It is in this context that I urge you to comply with the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with the current crisis and to make your decision known immediately. It would be a matter of the greatest regret to all my countrymen if Israeli policy on a matter of such grave concern to the world should in any way impair the friendly cooperation between our two countries.

With best wishes,


Dwight D. Eisenhower

Prime Minister Ben-Gurion to President Eisenhower
November 8, 1956:

Dear Mr. President:

I have only this afternoon received your message which was delayed in transmission owing to a breakdown in communications between the Department of State and the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Your statement that a United Nations force is being dispatched to Egypt in accordance with pertinent Resolutions of the General Assembly is welcomed by us. We have never planned to annex the Sinai desert. In view of the United Nations Resolutions regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Egypt and the creation of the international force, we will, upon conclusion of satisfactory arrangements with the United Nations in connection with this international force entering the Suez Canal area, willingly withdraw our forces.

Although an important part of our aim has been achieved by the destruction, as a result of the Sinai operation, of fidayun gangs and of the bases from which they were planned and directed, we must repeat our urgent request to the United Nations to call upon Egypt, which has consistently maintained that it is in a state of war with Israel, to renounce this position, to abandon its policy of boycott and blockade, to cease the incursions into Israeli territory of murder gangs and, in accordance with its obligations under the United Nations Charter to live at peace with member-States, to enter into direct peace negotiations with Israel.

On behalf of my Government I wish to express to you our gratification at your reference to the deep interest of the United States in Israel and its policy of support for Our Country. I know these words of friendship stem from the depths of your heart and I wish to assure you that you will always find Israel ready to make its noble contribution at the side of the United States in its efforts to strengthen justice and peace in the world.

With best wishes,

Sincerely yours,

David Ben-Gurion

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs