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UN GA  Resolution 997
November 2, 1956

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Tensions between Israel and Egypt began to escalate in 1954, when Egyptians uncovered an Israeli spy ring that was plotting to blow up US installations in Egypt in order to embarrass the Egyptian government ("the Lavon affair"). Egypt became suspicious of Israeli intentions, and began negotiating to purchase large quantities of arms. When they were turned down by the West, the Egyptians turned to the Eastern bloc countries and concluded a deal with Czechoslovakia. Egyptian President Gamal Nasser also closed the straits of Tiran and Suez Canal to Israeli shipping. Israeli strategists believed that Egypt would go to war or force a diplomatic showdown as soon the weapons had been integrated, and began looking for a source of arms as well. Israel concluded an arms deal with France. A series of border incursions by Palestinians and by Egyptians from Gaza evoked increasingly severe Israeli reprisals, triggering larger raids. The assessment of Israeli "activists" like Moshe Dayan was that Israel should wage preventive war before Egypt had fully integrated the new weapons.

In the summer of 1956, Israel, France and Britain colluded in a plan to reverse the nationalization of the Suez canal. The canal had been built by an anglo French consortium to link the Mediterranean and Red Sea.  Israel would invade the Sinai and land paratroopers near the Mitla pass. Britain and France would issue an ultimatum, and then land troops ostensibly to separate the sides.  The plan was carried out beginning October 29, 1956. Israel swiftly conquered Sinai and French and British landed in Egypt. The US, and the USSR were furious at Israel, Britain and France, but attempts to pass a Security Council resolution were stymied by the British and French veto power. According  Security Council Resolution 119 was passed that called for convening the General assembly. Resolution 997 was passed by the General Assembly on November 2, 1956, calling on "all parties" to withdraw to the armistice lines. .


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    General Assembly

A/RES/997 (ES-I)
2 November 1956

Resolution 997 (ES-I)


The General Assembly,

Noting the disregard on many occasions by parties to the Israel-Arab armistice agreements of 1949 of the terms of such agreements, and that the armed forces of Israel have penetrated deeply into Egyptian territory in violation of the General Armistice Agreement between Egypt and Israel of 24 February 1949,1/

Noting that armed forces of France and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are conducting military operations against Egyptian territory,

Noting that traffic through the Suez Canal is now interrupted to the serious prejudice of many nations,

Expressing its grave concern over these developments,

1. Urges as a matter of priority that all parties now involved in hostilities in the area agree to an immediate cease-fire and, as part thereof, halt the movement of military forces and arms into the area;

2. Urges the parties to the armistice agreements promptly to withdraw all forces behind the armistice lines, to desist from raids across the armistice lines into neighbouring territory, and to observe scrupulously the provisions of the armistice agreements;

3. Recommends that all Member States refrain from introducing military goods in the area of hostilities and in general refrain from any acts which would delay or prevent the implementation of the present resolution;

4. Urges that, upon the cease-fire being effective, steps be taken to reopen the Suez Canal and restore secure freedom of navigation;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to observe and report promptly on the compliance with the present resolution to the Security Council and to the General Assembly, for such further action as they may deem appropriate in accordance with the Charter;

6. Decides to remain in emergency session pending compliance with the present resolution.


1/ Official Records of the Security Council, Fourth Year, Special Supplement No.3.


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