In June 1967, the third Arab-Israeli war broke out, at the end of which Israel occupied the
When Israel decided in 1963 to divert the path of the
In the spring of 1967, tensions escalated once again; Israel threatened to launch a wide-scale attack on Syria, which continued to offer support to Palestinian militants and which had signed a mutual defense pact with Egypt in November 1966. On 7 April 1967, Israel made good on its threats, launching attacks on Syrian border areas while Israeli aircraft clashed with Syria’s over
Faced with the growing possibility of a full-scale Israeli assault on Syria, and especially after having received information from the Soviet Union on 13 May 1967 that Israel had amassed significant forces along the Syrian border, the Egyptian government announced on 15 May that it was placing its armed forces on alert. On the same day, Egypt requested that the UN Emergency Force—established following the 1956 war—withdraw from
On 30 May, Jordan, having ascertained that war was imminent, joined the mutual defense treaty between Egypt and Syria. Meanwhile, Israel announced the formation of a national unity government that included, for the first time, Menachem Begin, head of the right-wing Herut Party. While the administration of
On the morning of 5 June 1967, Israel launched a surprise attack on Egyptian airfields that lasted more than two hours, during which it nearly completely destroyed Egypt’s air force and damaged Egyptian runways. Battles in the West Bank led to widespread displacement of the population there, especially from Palestinian refugee camps in the
The defeat was felt particularly strongly by Nasser, who declared in an address to the Egyptian people on 9 June that he alone bore responsibility and would thus be resigning his post as president. Over the following days, however, millions demonstrated in the streets of Egypt’s cities calling on him to stay on as president, which he did. He proceeded to gather the Arab ranks, convening the Arab heads of state at the
On 22 November 1967, after five months of deliberations, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242. Proposed by
The June 1967 war had provided Israel an opportunity to realize its goals of regional expansion. The Zionist leadership had never regarded the borders that emerged after the 1948 as permanent and hoped to reassert its claims over what had slipped away in 1956. Moreover, the war helped to alleviate the economic crisis that had been affecting Israel, which had witnessed an unemployment rate of 10 percent and a decline in Jewish immigration. Moving quickly to reap the fruits of victory, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and began in the early days of its occupation to establish Jewish settlements there and in the Golan Heights.
The defeat of the Arab regular armies in 1967 led to the proliferation of Palestinian fedayeen operations and the transfer of the leadership of the PLO to the armed Palestinian groups. On a regional level, the 1967 defeat led to the decline of the Arab nationalist movement and the awakening of political Islam. It also marked the Arab regimes’ acceptance of Israel’s existence as a fait accompli in the region, especially after Egypt and Jordan agreed to UN Security Council Resolution 242. The goal of “undoing the effects of the war” came to replace the goal of liberating Palestine.
At the international level, the 1967 war brought even greater significance to the Middle East as a theater of the Cold War. Israel imposed itself as a strategic asset of the United States in the region, while the Soviet Union—despite the painful blow inflicted upon its Egyptian and Syrian allies—became the only international power able to rebuild the Arab armies and support Arab demands in the international arena.
Jabber, Fuad, ed. International Documents on Palestine, 1967. Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1970.
Louis, Wm. Roger, and Avi Shlaim, eds. The 1967 Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Parker, Richard B. “The June War: Whose Conspiracy?” Journal of Palestine Studies 21, no.4 (Summer 1992): 5–21.
Schleifer, S. Abdullah. “The Fall of Jerusalem, 1967.” Journal of Palestine Studies 1, no.1 (Autumn 1971): 68–86.
Segev, Tom. “The June 1967 War and the Palestinian Refugee Problem.” Journal of Palestine Studies 36, no.3 (Spring 2007): 6–22.
“Special Document File: Jerusalem 1967.” Journal of Palestine Studies 37, no.1 (Autumn 2007): 88–110.