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Oil, War and European Initiatives for Peace in the Middle East 1973–74: British Attitude and Perspective

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The Arab–Israeli wars since 1948 resulted in several peace treaties between Israel and its neighbours brokered by the US, the Soviet Union and European countries in an attempt to achieve a just and lasting peace settlement in the Middle East. All efforts however proved ultimately futile, with the resumption of war several years after each peace treaty had been signed. For example, after the Six Day War of 1967, all parties agreed to accept a peace treaty based upon United Nations Resolution 242. However, six years after the tabling of the resolution, war broke out again on October 1973. Another long process of peace settlement ensued which culminated in the Camp David Accords, brokered by President Jimmy Carter. These peace accords, signed between President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel on 17 September 1978, led directly to the Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979. Despite its success, the 1979 treaty yet again failed to achieve the just and lasting peace settlement that had been expected. In all these treaties, the core issues of the conflict, such as the Palestinian refugee problem and the status of East Jerusalem, failed to be resolved. This article examines the British attitude and perspective towards the peace settlement after the 1973 war, focussing on the proposal for an International Peace Guarantee and the initiative of the Euro-Arab Dialogue. Based upon declassified archival records of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office available at the National Archives in England, it unveils the attitude of the British government towards the UN Resolutions as well as its collective initiatives with the European Community to establish a just and lasting peace settlement in the Middle East.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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