Israeli Prospects

August 2, 1967

Report Outline
Effects of Six-Day War in Middle East
Problems Facing Israel Before the War
Changes in Society of Jewish Nation
Search for Possible Peace Settlement

Effects of Six-Day War in Middle East

The six-day war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, June 5–10, substantially altered the power structure in the turbulent Middle East. Israel's lightning move through Egypt's Sinai Peninsula broke the Egyptian blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba, Israel's sea lane to Africa and Asia, and once again put its soldiers on the banks of the Suez Canal. In the east, Israel's forces ousted Jordanian troops from the old section of Jerusalem and seized control of all Jordanian territory west of the Jordan River. The latter move foreclosed the possibility that in the event of all-out war Israel could be cut in half; at some points, Jordan's territory on the west bank extended to less than 20 miles from the sea. Finally, Israel captured the borderland hills and fortifications from which Syria, most virulent of the Arab states, had for decades harassed Israel's northeastern settlements. Despite these military victories, the war put additional strains on an already weak Israeli economy and raised serious questions about the future of the small nation of 2.6 million people.

The brief war erupted after months of mounting tension. But its immediate cause was the failure of diplomatic efforts to lift the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba declared on May 23 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser of the United Arab Republic. The gulf had been opened to Israeli shipping by Israel's victory in the Suez war of 1956, and it had been kept open by the United Nations Emergency Force stationed since then at the gulf's mouth on the Red Sea. Nasser's request on May 18 for removal of the U.N. force, from the Gaza Strip as well as from the gulf outpost, was accompanied by movement of substantial Egyptian forces into the Sinai Peninsula, raising Tel Aviv's fears of the long-threatened Arab attempt to terminate the existence of the Jewish state. When the United States and other Western nations failed to act promptly to break the blockade, the third Arab-Israeli war was on.

Israel's smashing victory not only stunned the Arabs and their Soviet backers; it left Israel in a position of strength. In contrast to 1956, when Israeli forces were withdrawn in response to strong Washington-Moscow pressure, Tel Aviv at once announced that Israel would remain in the occupied territories until decisive progress toward a permanent settlement had been made.

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