Timeline--France

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FRANCE’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE ARAB- ISRAELI CONFLICT:

1916: France and Britain defining their respective spheres of post-World War I influence and control in the Middle East reached on May 16, 1916 a understanding known as The Sykes-Picot Agreement. France was allocated control of South-eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Britain took control of areas roughly comprising Jordan, Iraq and a small area around Haifa. The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas. The area which subsequently came to be called Palestine was for international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers.

1920: French forces entered Syria to impose their League of Nations mandate in July 1920, after an independent Arab Kingdom of Syria was established under King Faisal of the Hashemite family, who later became King of Iraq after being exiled by the French from Syria. - France carved Syria into several ethnic enclaves, Lebanon being the largely Christian area. It also included areas containing many Muslims and Druzes.

1943: Lebanon and Syria gained independence jointly in 1943, while France was occupied by Germany. The countries were reoccupied again by the allies’ forces until the end of the war.

1946: France evacuated its last troops from Syria in April 1946, leaving the country in the hands of a republican government that had been formed during the mandate after continuing pressure from Syrian nationalist groups.

1948: France quickly recognized the state of Israel and established diplomatic relations on May 11, 1949 - Around 758,000 to 866,000 of the Jews living in Arab countries and territories left or were forced to leave the countries of their birth; 600,000 of these people fled or emigrated to Israel, with another 300,000 seeking refuge in various Western countries, primarily France.

1950: In the 1950s France was, perhaps, Israel's closest ally in the world. France for many years backed Israel at the United Nations. French arm shipments, including fighter jets, missiles, and helicopters had formed the backbone of Israel's army in the nineteen-fifties and early sixties

1956: France openly supported the Israeli attack on the Sinai Peninsula, and was working against Nasser, then a popular figure in the Middle East. The Suez Crisis also made France look again like imperialist powers attempting to impose their will upon weaker nations. The alliance between the two European nations (France and Britain) and Israel was largely one of convenience; the European nations had economic and trading interests in the Suez Canal, while Israel wanted to reopen the canal for Israeli shipping and end Egyptian-supported guerrilla incursions.

1959: France signed a bilateral agreement on cultural, scientific and technological cooperation with Israel. The cooperation is mainly centered on the revival of a vibrant francophonie and the strengthening of France role as Israel's third partner in terms of scientific and technological research. Its originality rests on the existence of a real francophonie in Israel (approximately 600,000 French speakers, or 10% of the population).

1967: French Mirage fighters in the 1967 war guaranteed Israeli air superiority, while on the ground French small arms equipped the IDF soldiers.

- In 1967 de Gaulle completely overturned France's Israel policy. De Gaulle and his ministers reacted very harshly to Israel's actions in the Six Day War. The French government and de Gaulle condemned Israel's treatment of refugees, warned that it was a mistake to occupy the Palestinian areas, and also refused to recognize the Israeli control of Jerusalem. The French government continued to criticize Israel after the war and France began to use its veto power to oppose Israel in the UN, and France sided with the Arab states on almost all issues brought to the international body.

-However, after 1967 France continued to support Israel's right to exist, as well as Israel's many preferential agreements with France and the European Economic Community. De Gaulle launched the immense shift in policy from one favoring Israel to one favoring the Arab states for a combination of reasons. It was becoming obvious that the strengthening alliance between the United States and Israel would soon make France's role as an ally mostly irrelevant. The US could always provide Israel with more money and with higher levels of military technology. For France to play an important role in the region it seemed supporting the Arab side would give it more leverage in the future. Trade considerations also came into play. The Arab states at the time had a combined population of over a hundred million, compared to only three million in Israel. As de Gaulle memoirs show he was personally quite sympathetic to Israel, but he saw it in the interest of France to distance the two nations. For the pursuit of political and economic ends de Gaulle crafted a new Middle Eastern policy that discontinued support for Israel and instead pursued close relations with the Arab states.


1970: France sold Libya a hundred Dassault Mirage fighter jets de Gaulle's government imposed an arms embargo on the Israeli state. The embargo was in fact applied to all the combatants, but very soon France began selling weaponry to the Arab states again.

1973: Before the Yom Kippur War or October War, Sadat worked to curry favor in Europe and for the first time Britain and France sided with the Arab powers against Israel on the United Nations Security Council.

1975: France voted against the UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 which equated Zionism with racism along with 35 other countries.

1978: Due to France foreign policy change towards Israel, they virtually were blocked from playing any role in the Camp David Accords. The French foreign minister complained that a separate peace between Israel and Egypt would not benefit Middle East peace, but none of the leaders involved were particularly concerned about what the French government thought. This pattern repeated itself frequently.

2002: A high level work group in charge of studying the renewal of bilateral relations (political, economic and cooperative) was created between Israel and France. It produced a concrete, imaginative proposal that led to the establishment of several projects in the cultural, scientific, political and economic fields. The objectives were to reestablish trust between the two societies by improving French and Israeli public opinion of each other and to propose bilateral projects for cooperation that could involve all French political and cultural actors.

2006: (July) French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy called Israel's bombardment of Beirut airport and other parts of Lebanon after the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah as "a disproportionate act of war", saying there was a risk of a regional war.

-French President Jacques Chirac said in a television interview: "One can ask oneself whether there isn't a sort of desire to destroy Lebanon.”I find, honestly, like most Europeans, that the reactions are completely disproportionate.” Chirac also condemned Hizbollah for attacking Israel and firing rockets into the Jewish state. "These people are totally irresponsible," he said. - France and the United States drafted a resolution which was subsequently accepted unanimously by the different parties at the United Nations on 11 August 2006 that ended the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. The ceasefire began on Monday, 14 August 2006 at 8 AM local time, after increased attacks by both sides.




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_France

http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez_Crisis

http://today.reuters.com/news/NewsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-07-14T130833Z_01_L14739974_RTRUKOC_0_US-MIDEAST-WORLD.xml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Arab-Israeli_War

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/8A7ED0E3-AC48-4832-926F-A91B6404284D.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UN_General_Assembly_Resolution_3379

http://www.info-france-usa.org/news/statmnts/2004/france_israel073004.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syria

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