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The Middle East: 1956 –1979 - The Six Day War, 1967.


The Middle East: 1956 –1979

Key issue: How far did the events of the years 1956 to 1967 show how difficult it was to find a solution to the problems in the Middle East?

The background to the problems in the Middle East

The Suez Crisis, 1956; the end of British influence

The founding of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), 1964

The Arab Summits,1964–1965

The Six Day War, 1967.

Key issue: How close to victory were the Arabs in the 1970s?

Hijackings, 1970–1972

The Munich Olympics, 1972

The Yom Kippur War, 1973

Oil wars and economic pressures, 1973

The PLO, 1974–1975; Yasser Arafat speaking at the UN Assembly, 1975.

Key issue: How close was the Middle East to peace by the end of the 1970s?

The Israeli occupation and settlement of the West Bank and Gaza, 1977

President Sadat speaking to the Israeli Parliament, 1977

The Israeli invasion of the Lebanon, March 1978

The meeting at Camp David, September 1978

Signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, March 1979.


JUNE 6, 1967

A special striking force, comprising an armored division with at least 200 tanks, was concentrated against Elath at the Negev’s southern tip. Here was a clear design to cut the southern Negev off from the main body of our State. For Egypt had openly proclaimed that Elath did not form part of Israel and had predicted that Israel itself would soon expire. The proclamation was empty; the prediction now lies in ruin. While the main brunt of the hostile threat was focused on the southern front, an alarming plan of encirclement was under way. With Egypt’s initiative and guidance, Israel was already being strangled in its maritime approaches to the whole eastern half of the world. For sixteen years, Israel had been illicitly denied passage in the Suez Canal, despite the Security Council’s decision of 1 September 1951. And now the creative enterprise of ten patient years which had opened an international route across the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba had been suddenly and arbitrarily choked. Israel was and is breathing with only a single lung.
Jordan had been intimidated, against its better interest, into joining a defense pact. It is not a defense pact at all. It is an aggressive pact, of which I saw the consequences with my own eyes yesterday in the shells falling upon institutions of health and culture in the City of Jerusalem. Every house and street in Jerusalem came into the range of fire as a result of Jordan’s adherence to this pact; so also did the crowded and pathetically narrow coastal strip in which so much of Israel’s life and population is concentrated.

JUNE 6, 1967

When the Council discusses what is to happen after the cease-fire, we hear many formulae: back to 1956, back to 1948 – I understand our neighbors would wish to turn the clock back to 1947. The fact is, however, that most clocks move forward and not backward. This should be the case with the clock of Middle Eastern peace. No backward to belligerency, but forward to peace.
The point was well made this evening by the representative of Argentina, who said: “The cease-fire must be followed immediately by the most energetic efforts to find a just and true peace in the Middle East.” In similar sense, the representative of Canada warned us against merely reproducing the old positions of conflict, without attempting to settle the underlying issues of Arab-Israeli coexistence. After all, many things in recent days have been mixed up with each other. Few things are what they were. And in order to create harmonious combinations of relationships, it is inevitable that the States should come together in negotiation.
Another factor in the harmony that we would like to see in the Middle East relates to external Powers. From these, and especially from the greatest amongst them, the small States of the Middle East- and most of them are small – ask for a rigorous support, not for individual States, but for specific principles; not to be for one State against other States, but to be for peace against war, for free commerce against belligerency, for the pacific settlement of disputes against violent irredentist threats; in other words, to exercise an even-handed support for the integrity and independence of States and for the rights of States under the Charter of the United Nations and other sources of international law.
There are no two categories of States. The United Arab Republic, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon – not one of these has a single ounce or milligram of Statehood which does not adhere in equal measures to Israel itself.
Balanced Attitude Required From Other States
It is important that States outside our region apply a balanced attitude. They should not exploit temporary tensions and divergencies in the issues of global conflict. They should not seek to win gains by inflaming fleeting passions and they should strive to make a balanced distribution of their friendship amongst the States of the Middle East.

Source: Security Council Resolution

NOVEMBER 22, 1967

The Security Council,

Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

Affirms further the necessity

For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;

For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;

For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;

Requests the Secretary General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;

Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.


sixdaywar.co.uk - site dedicated to coverage of the war.

History Learning Site - The Six Days War

Jewish Virtual Library - The Six Days War

BBC News - News report on the Six Days War





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