Arab or Jew? by Robert Gordon Canning

By Robert Gordon Canning

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The British administration in Egypt rejected this line as too complex and impractical. The second proposal was much simpler: the shortest possible line between the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, which translates into a straight line from Rafah to Aqaba. In 1906, Cromer decided to act in the area, which he regarded as Egypt’s. He hoped that these activities would approve the claims he had been making since 1892, and especially in 1902. Along the line that Cromer envisaged, was a main through route that connected Aqaba, through Quntila and Qseimme, with Gaza on the Mediterranean coast.

The French government officially requested the Czar’s support for its claim to future control over Palestine and Syria in March 1915. The Russians rejected the part that dealt with the holy sites, and recruited Britain’s help on the matter. The British government refused to hold official discussions about the future of the Ottoman lands before the empire had collapsed. 5 Confronted by British and Russian resistance, France had slightly retreated from its original claim, and now demanded control over parts of Palestine and the internationalization of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

At the end of April, British troops tried to land close to Rafah, after the Ottomans had removed the border markings that they had placed there in 1902. In this case too, they confronted large Ottoman defence forces, and they retreated from this plan. The British government viewed the incident as an opportunity to reinforce its position in the south-eastern Mediterranean, and it launched diplomatic steps that were backed by a military force. Cromer had achieved his goal. The British government did not 34 Delimitation in the late Ottoman period respond to any of his early appeals, to view the determination of a new borderline as a British interest, and it did not exert its influence on the matter.

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