The 1948 War

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


The fact that the suggestion to bomb Tripoli from the air came from Sharett, whose moderation was widely recognized, attested to the desperation of Israeli policy-makers during one of the most critical periods of the war. The idea was apparently rejected and in fact became superfluous soon after, when the British Government finally formulated its oil policy for Palestine, which included a provision for discontinuing exports of fuel from Haifa. The urgent need for such a policy arose as a result of a heretofore barely researched development concerning the Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline. While the dispatch of refined products from Haifa had been terminated on 3 May 1948 at the request of the Jews,1 not inconsiderable quantities of crude oil were still being pumped down the pipeline from Iraq and shipped from Haifa by tanker to Tripoli. According to Israeli intelligence, about 160000 tons of crude oil were thus transferred to Lebanon between 15 May and 16 June. No detailed information has been traced which could cast light on IPC’s apparent decision to continue that pumping, nor is it clear whether it was made with the full knowledge and formal approval of the Iraqi Government. However, evidence seems to suggest that the Iraqis did not consider the closing of the Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline to be irrevocable. The Chief Engineer of the refinery informed the American Consul in Haifa that during the first week of June, Iraq had approached British ‘oil interest[s]’ and asked how the flow of Iraqi oil could be resumed since Iraq was already feeling the economic ‘pinch’ due to the cessation of oil deliveries.2


Refined Product Jewish State Free Port British Foreign Israeli Authority 
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  1. 1.
    The following is based on POWE 33/1717; ISA 2420/1; SDR 867N.6363/6-1048; and D. Silverfarb, ‘The Revision of Iraq’s Oil Concessions, 1949–52’, Middle Eastern Studies, 32, I, (1996), pp. 69–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 5.
    See I. Pappe, ‘Overt Conflict to Tacit Alliance: Anglo-Israeli Relations 1948–51’, Middle Eastern Studies, IV, 1990, pp. 563–4Google Scholar
  3. W. Roger Louis, ‘Britain at the Crossroads in Palestine, 1952–1954’, The Jerusalem Journal of International Relations, 12, HI, 1990, pp. 59–82.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Uri Bialer 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Uri Bialer
    • 1
  1. 1.Hebrew UniversityJerusalemIsrael

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