From July to December 1948, Egypt had sought to retain, with the aid of the Great Powers, control of the Negev and a foothold on the West Bank. However, Israeli's offensive at the end of the year convinced Cairo to accept the best terms that it could obtain directly from Tel Aviv. In February 1949, therefore, Egypt became the first Arab power to sign an armistice with the Jewish state. The Egyptian diplomatic withdrawal also led indirectly to Israel's gain of territory further north. Not sharing a common border with the Jewish state, Iraq could afford to shun all contact: Baghdad ordered its forces to return home without so much as opening negotiations. Jordan's army, now the sole Arab force responsible for the defense of the West Bank, was left in the lurch. On the face of it, this sad finale to a disastrous war marked the complete failure of Egyptian foreign policy. Indeed, the defeat of the Egyptian army and the occupation of most of Palestine by the Jews was also a disaster in terms of politics.
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