This article examines Israel’s decision to launch the 1956 campaign against Egypt. While the current literature tends to argue that, in 1956, the campaign was a response by Israel to security threats, it is suggested here that, if so, these threats certainly did not predetermine any specific response. Israel could, for example, have responded by adopting a defensive posture. In reality, domestic factors were just as influential as external ones. The most important of these was the severe economic crisis caused by mass immigration to Israel during 1948–1951. This crisis in turn led to the creation in 1953–1956 of awar coalitionwhose three components— David Ben-Gurion (PrimeMinister and Minister of Defence), MAPAI’s party bosses and the army—had different interests but shared the idea of a war against Israel’s Arab neighbours as a way in which each could advance its preferred aims.
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© 2015 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.