Arab-Israeli War of 1967

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Arab-Israeli War of 1967


(Russian title: Israeli Aggression Against the Arab States in 1967), an armed attack by Israel against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria on June 5, 1967, incited by the imperialist powers and international Zionism, which led to the seizure of considerable Arab territory by Israel.

The imperialist forces, headed by the ruling circles of the USA, intended by means of the Israeli aggression to inflict a blow against the movement in Arab countries aimed at strengthening national independence, to provoke the overthrow of the progressive regimes in Egypt and Syria, and to strengthen the position of neocolonialism and reaction in the Arab world. The Zionist ruling clique of Israel sought to realize its expansionist plans for the creation of a “Greater Israel” from the Nile to the Euphrates, to consolidate their position within the country, and to strengthen their ties with the monopolistic circles of the USA.

The aggression was prepared over a long period of time. On May 9, 1967, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) granted the government the authority to begin military actions against Syria. In order to carry out the aggression and justify it to world public opinion, Israel, encouraged by imperialist and international Zionist circles, took advantage of the measures of the Arab states (in particular, of Egypt) to strengthen their borders. The reactionary world press propagandized strenuously for Israel’s thesis that it needed to wage war against the Arab states in order to preserve its existence, which was allegedly threatened. Extremist statements of various Arab figures were exploited toward this end (for example, the former Palestinian Arab leader Ahmad Shukayri, who called on the Arabs to annihilate Israel). Material and military aid to Israel from the imperialist states and international Zionist organizations, the careful preparations that had been carried out beforehand, and the suddenness of its attack allowed the Israeli air force to put out of action the greater part of the battle planes and airfields of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the course of the first few hours of military action on June 5, 1967. This determined the outcome of military operations in favor of the aggressor. During the six days of military actions (the “six-day war”), Israeli forces seized the Sinai Peninsula (advancing to the eastern bank of the Suez Canal, which was closed to navigation as a result) and the Gaza region (Egypt), the western bank of the Jordan River and the eastern sector of Jerusalem (Jordan), and the Golan Heights (Syria). A total of about 70,000 sq km was occupied, with a population of more than 1 million people.

In the course of its aggression, the government of Israel ignored the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council of June 6, 7, and 9, 1967, on the immediate cessation of fire and of all military actions. Only after the fourth Security Council resolution (June 10, 1967), after the USSR and a number of other states broke off diplomatic relations with Israel and Israel was sent a warning concerning the implementation of sanctions, were military actions discontinued (June 10, 1967). An important role in halting the Israeli offensive was played by the decisive position of the European socialist countries, whose leaders assembled at a conference in Moscow on June 9, 1967. The participants in the conference (the USSR, the People’s Republic of Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, the People’s Republic of Poland, the Federated Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic) expressed their solidarity with the just struggle of the Arab peoples and their readiness to do everything necessary to aid the peoples of the Arab countries in repulsing the aggressor.

An acute military-political crisis arose in the Middle East as a result of the Israeli aggression, a crisis charged with the threat of developing into an international conflict.

Even after the advance of their troops was halted, the ruling circles of Israel, enjoying the support of international imperialist circles (headed by the USA with the support of various Zionist organizations of the Western countries), continued aggressive actions with respect to the neighboring Arab countries and set about the thorough exploitation of the occupied Arab territories. Despite the resolutions of the UN (such as that of July 4, 1967), the Israeli parliament adopted in July 1967 a law on the inclusion of the eastern sector of Jerusalem as part of Israel. The construction of military settlements was begun in the Sinai, on the west bank of the Jordan River, and on the Golan Heights. As a result of military actions and repression by the Israeli authorities, hundreds of thousands of Arabs were driven from the occupied territories to the east bank of the Jordan. Representatives of the government of Israel openly declared their intention to annex the seized Arab lands.

The efforts of peace-loving forces, headed by the socialist states, made possible the adoption of the UN Security Council’s resolution of Nov. 22,1967 (No. 242), on the political settlement of the Middle East conflict. With a view to establishing a just peace in the Middle East, the resolution provided for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the territory it had occupied in June 1967 and for the respect and recognition of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of every state in the region in question, as well as of their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. The resolution points to the need to guarantee freedom of navigation on international waterways in the region and to achieve a just settlement to the problem of the Palestinian refugees, a problem which had arisen earlier as a result of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948–49 and which had been aggravated as a result of the Israeli aggression of 1967. To implement this resolution—to establish and maintain contacts with the states concerned for the purpose of cooperation in the achievement of a political settlement—Gunnar Jarring, a special representative of the secretary-general of the UN, was sent to the Middle East in November 1967. Egypt and Jordan declared their readiness to carry out the Security Council resolution in all its provisions. The government of Israel shunned implementation of the resolution and officially declared that Israel would not withdraw its troops to the cease-fire line that had existed until June 5, 1967, and had been established by agreements signed by Israel and the Arab countries after the war of 1948–49. Demanding direct negotiations with the Arab states—the victims of aggression—before withdrawing troops from the occupied territories, Israel did not conceal its intention to dictate its conditions of surrender to the Arabs and to secure territorial concessions from them.

The government of Israel rejected Egypt’s peace initiative in 1971 concerning the partial withdrawal of Israeli troops from the east bank of the Suez Canal as part of a general settlement based on the Security Council Resolution No. 242 (that is, with the subsequent compulsory withdrawal of Israeli troops from all Arab lands seized in June 1967) with the purpose of opening the canal to normal international navigation.

With the support of the socialist states, above all of the Soviet Union, and of all peace-loving democratic forces, the progressive regimes in the Arab countries have strengthened their positions, increased their defensive capacity, and redoubled their resistance to Israel’s aggressive actions. At the same time, discontent with the aggressive policies of the ruling circles of Israel has increased within that country; the Communist Party of Israel has carried on an active struggle against these policies.

The international Conference of Communist and Workers’ Parties held in June 1969 condemned the continuing aggression of Israel, pointing out that this aggression was a flagrant violation of the national rights of the Arab peoples and of the UN Charter. On Dec. 13, 1971, the Twenty-sixth Session of the General Assembly of the UN adopted a resolution containing the demand that Israel carry out the Security Council resolution of Nov. 22, 1967, on the withdrawal of its troops from the Arab territories occupied in 1967. Ignoring these demands, the ruling circles of Israel have continued aggressive actions against the Arab countries with repeated attacks on Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and incursions into the territory of Lebanon.

Israel’s stubborn refusal to settle the Middle East conflict in a just way led to a new outbreak of military hostilities in October 1973. The October War has shown the increased battle capacity of the Egyptian and Syrian armed forces. A collective oil embargo imposed by the Arab states has also proved to be an effective measure. In 1974, as a result of this new balance of forces in the Middle East, an agreement on the disengagement of Israeli, Egyptian, and Syrian forces was achieved. It has been repeatedly pointed out in UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that a just and lasting peace in the Middle East can be secured only if Israeli forces are withdrawn from all occupied Arab territories, if the rights of Palestinians for self-determination and the creation of their own state are realized, and if the independence and security of all countries in the area, including Israel, are guaranteed.

V. P. RUMIANTSEV [10–342–1; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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