Dodging the Peril of Peace: Israel and the Arabs in the Aftermath of the June 1967 War
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter presents a historical analysis of Israel’s policy and practice in the aftermath of the 1967 War in which Israel occupied Jordan’s West Bank, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Syria’s Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip. It argues that Israel deliberately squandered every opportunity for a peaceful accommodation with its Arab adversaries. It demonstrates that Israel’s main foreign policy priority was to deceive the US into believing that Israel was seeking a peaceful settlement with either Jordan’s King Hussein or the West Bank Palestinian leadership. The aim was to deflect American and international pressure to withdraw from the occupied territories while creating facts on the ground such as illegal settlements. Drawing on official records from Israeli and American archives as well as large variety of secondary sources, this chapter fills a lacuna in the existing literature and dispels several myths, particularly the Israeli claim that “there was no Arab partner for peace.”
The Six Day War of June 1967 was a momentous historical watershed in many respects. The decisive military victory of the Israeli armed forces reshaped the geopolitical map of the Middle East. The rout of three Arab armies in less than a week drastically affected the Arab–Israeli balance of power. It signaled to the Arabs that the Jewish state was there to stay. The capture of vast Arab lands transformed the nature of relations between the Arab countries and Israel. Egypt,1 Syria, and Jordan were no longer enemies of Israel merely because of their declared objection to its existence. Having lost territories to Israel, each had its own, separate score to settle—for the sake of which they effectively abandoned their often-proclaimed commitment to fight for the Palestinian cause. Israel, on the other hand, now had for the first time since its foundation in 1948 something concrete to offer to its hostile neighbors in return for peace. Moreover, with the whole of Mandatory Palestine and more than half of the Palestinian people under its rule, Israel was provided with a historic opportunity to defuse the Palestinian problem that lies at the heart of the decades-long Arab–Zionist conflict.
But intoxicated with victory, Israel persistently and deliberately squandered every opportunity for a peaceful accommodation with its Arab adversaries in the immediate aftermath of the June hostilities. The desire to keep the territorial spoils of war was irresistible. The policy and practice Israel applied during the formative early days of the half-a-century-long occupation crucially shaped the things to come.
The launch of the surprise attack on Egypt on the morning of June 5, 1967 was accompanied by public assurances from Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, and Foreign Minister Abba Eban that Israel had no aims of territorial conquest.2 Indeed, the objective of the onslaught was, in the words of Dayan on the eve of the war, “to destroy the Egyptian forces concentrated in central Sinai. We should have no geographical aim whatsoever.”3 The Egyptian military buildup in Sinai, fueled by a sequence of Arab, Israeli, Soviet, and United Nations blunders, started in mid-May. A week later, when Egypt’s President Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasser announced the closure of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping, the war that nobody wanted became a certainty. During the countdown to war the Arab world was swept by a wave of belligerency toward the “Zionist entity.” The Arab Cold War4 between “revolutionary” republics and “conservative” monarchies came to an abrupt end, or at least paused; old feuds and rivalries were set aside in favor of a loosely united front against Israel, built on a series of mutual defense pacts. Alarmed by what was perceived as a tightening stranglehold, Israel mobilized its army reserves, which constituted the backbone of its combat force, thereby bringing the state’s economy to a standstill. Bloodcurdling Arab threats of annihilation prompted fresh memories of the Holocaust. Even the generals, who were confident of Israel’s battlefield superiority and pushed hard for immediate action, feared a staggering number of military and civilian casualties.
To paraphrase Thucydides in History of the Peloponnesian War, what made war inevitable was the growth of Egyptian power and the fear which this caused in Israel.5 So grave was the fear that Israel went so far as to cross the atomic weapons threshold. A few days before the outbreak of the war Israeli scientists and technicians improvised the nearly complete assembly of a handful of nuclear devices. Shimon Peres—a well-connected member of Knesset and future cabinet minister, prime minister, and president of the state—proposed conducting a nuclear explosion test. He believed that a demonstration of Israel’s doomsday capability would deter the Arabs and prevent an armed conflict. Defense Minister Dayan dismissed the idea.6 (According to the American journalist Patrick Tyler, who relies on “a number of Israeli sources,” Prime Minister Eshkol himself ordered the assembly of two crude atomic bombs at Dimona Nuclear Reactor. They were readied for deployment on trucks that could race to the border for detonation in the event of Egyptian incursion.7)
Israel chose to fight a conventional war, and hoped to confine the hostilities to the Egyptian front. But soon after the first Israeli shot had been fired, Jordan joined the fray by shelling the Israeli sector of divided Jerusalem and other targets in central Israel. Syria, which actually triggered the crisis because of false Soviet claims that Israeli troops were massing on its border, attempted to avoid battle. Nonetheless, on the fifth day of the war, after defeating the Egyptian and Jordanian armies, Israel turned on Syria as well, in defiance of a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution, which both countries had accepted. When the final ceasefire came into effect on the evening of June 10, Israel controlled Arab territories more than three times its prewar size: the West Bank, including the Old City of Jerusalem, was taken from Jordan; the Golan Heights were seized from Syria; and Egypt forfeited the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, and two tiny islands on loan from Saudi Arabia, Tiran and Sanafir. “We are now an empire,” boasted Moshe Dayan.8
Overnight, Israel’s somber mood was replaced with euphoria, and reason with messianic ardor.9 Discarded were the pledges of not having expansionist aspirations. The Israelis, leaders and ordinary citizens alike, regarded the captured Arab lands as “liberated” territories. Most coveted were the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank, being part of biblical Erets Yisra’el, or the Jewish Land of Israel. “We have returned to our most holy places; we have returned and we shall never leave them,” proclaimed Defense Minister Dayan on the third day of the war.10 That day, Premier Eshkol expressed “great desire” to keep the Gaza Strip as well, although he had difficulty explaining why. “[P]erhaps because of Samson and Delilah,” he said.11 The Israelis also insisted on retaining the Golan Heights—hitherto “the Syrian Plateau” in Israeli parlance—emphasizing their strategic importance. The true reason for storming the Golan was, according to Dayan’s retrospective admission, strong pressure from leaders of kibbutzim in the Galilee who craved the fertile land of the area.12 Israel set its heart on Sinai, too, particularly Sharm al-Sheikh at the southern tip of the peninsula, overlooking the Straits of Tiran—the gateway to the Israeli port of Eilat. “Better Sharm al-Sheikh without peace than peace without Sharm al-Sheikh,” Dayan famously stated.13
Popular opinion polls conducted in late June and early July 1967 show that an overwhelming majority of the Israelis wished to possess the occupied territories.14 Within weeks after the war, prominent public figures and intellectuals formed a powerful and influential pressure group, The Movement for the Whole Land of Israel, with the purpose of pressing the government not to relinquish the territorial acquisitions of June 1967. But pressure was unnecessary. As the flames and the dust of the fighting subsided, Levi Eshkol coined a metaphor that encapsulated the Israeli postwar ambition. In the metaphor, Israel’s conquests were a “dowry” and the Arab population a “bride.” “The trouble is that the dowry is followed by a bride whom we don’t want,” the prime minister repeatedly lamented.15 Eshkol, reputedly a moderate, indecisive, and weak, and his National Unity Government effectively translated the metaphor into a firm and consistent policy whose aim was to appropriate the dowry and divorce the bride. The unstated controlling consideration of the Israeli policymakers was the desire to keep as many of the occupied lands as possible with as few Arab inhabitants as possible. This attitude inevitably influenced the Israeli approach toward the Arab states and peacemaking in general.
During the first few months of the occupation the government took a number of symbolic steps demonstrating Israel’s determination to appropriate the “dowry.” The occupied territories were officially called “administered territories” (shtahim muhzakim, literally “held territories”), and the term “West Bank” was formally substituted with the biblical Hebrew names Yehudah ve-Shomron (Judea and Samaria).16 The cabinet decided to produce a new official map of Israel that included the captured Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian lands without featuring the prewar lines.17 Individual leaders followed suit by making unequivocal statements. Dayan publicly asserted that Israel must ensure “living space”—an expression shockingly reminiscent of Adolf Hitler’s infamous Lebensraum—to deter “adventurous Arab leaders,” and that it must therefore not return to the June 4 borders.18 Another cabinet member, Moshe Carmel, suggested that Israel should sit tight in the occupied territories because in twenty years’ time the world might be accustomed to it.19
Carmel’s words reflected wishful thinking that was shared by many and based on the encouraging precedent of Israel’s prewar boundaries: the UN Partition Resolution of November 1947 had allocated 55% of Palestine to the future Jewish state, but following the 1948 War and the conclusion of the 1949 Israel–Arab Armistice Agreements, Israel controlled an additional 23% of the land (78% in total). Although the agreements expressly emphasized that the Armistice Green Line demarcations should not be regarded as political or territorial frontiers, during the ensuing twenty years they acquired de facto international legitimacy.
Israel consolidated its grip on the occupied territories by a number of far-reaching physical measures. The first was the swift annexation of Arab/Jordanian Jerusalem together with an area twelve times its size. The annexed region encompassed, wholly or partially, the lands of twenty-eight Palestinian villages, and areas previously within the municipal limits of the West Bank towns of Bethlehem, Bayt Jalla, and al-Bireh. The municipal boundaries were intentionally manipulated so as to incorporate a minimal number of Arab residents.20 Ruhi al-Khatib, the mayor of the Jordanian sector of Jerusalem whose municipality was unceremoniously dissolved, later described the annexation as part of a well-prepared Zionist plan to Judaize Jerusalem.21 Khatib’s allegation was not without foundation. In August, Teddy Kollek, the magisterial mayor of the so-called unified Jerusalem, said in a meeting with his deputies: “if the interior and justice ministers let us work, we’ll be able to Judaize the Old City.”22
Nine days after the war the Israeli cabinet secretly agreed that “the Gaza Strip is located within the territory of the State of Israel,” and on October 31, 1968 the cabinet passed another top-secret resolution, restating that the Strip should “obviously” remain within Israel’s boundaries.23 Although Egypt had no claim to sovereignty over Gaza, Israel avoided formal annexation because of the enormous number of 1948 refugees who resided in this tiny, densely populated region—some 210,000 out of the total of 356,000 inhabitants. Israel, which had adamantly refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the 1948 refugee problem, now preferred to let the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continue to take care of the refugees in Gaza. The cabinet’s October 31, 1968 resolution also provided that Israel should maintain its control over Sharm al-Sheikh “with territorial continuity to the State of Israel.” The distance between Sharm al-Sheikh, at the extreme south of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, and Eilat, at the extreme south of Israel, is 150 miles (243 kilometers).
Most significant was the Jewish settlement project in the occupied territories. As early as June 8, the fourth day of the war, Defense Minister Dayan gave the commanding general of the Central Command a “policy directive … that he was to act in accordance with our intention to establish permanent Jewish settlements in the Mount Hebron and Jerusalem areas.”24 One month later, the first settlement was established on the Golan Heights.25 In September, Theodor Meron, the Foreign Ministry’s legal counsel and expert in international law, advised Premier Eshkol and Foreign Minister Eban that civilian settlement in the occupied territories would contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention.26 Regardless of Meron’s unequivocal legal opinion, a second settlement—the first in the West Bank—came into being within days.27 More Israeli settlements were to follow—in the Golan, West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Sinai—in the months and years ahead, but not as many as the government wished. Budget constraints and a scarcity of would-be settlers limited the pace of expansion. The humble beginning notwithstanding, the settlement enterprise manifested the Israeli intention to stay put indefinitely in the occupied territories. While refusing to draw a peace map, Israel—in keeping with one of the Zionist ethos’ main pillars—effectively demarcated its new frontiers by fait accompli.
“The bride”—the Arabs living in the occupied territories—was undesirable to the Israelis from the very start.28 On the morning of June 7, the third day of the war, just before the capture of the West Bank was complete, Defense Minister Dayan instructed Lieutenant General Yitzhak Rabin, the chief of the General Staff, that the aim was to empty the West Bank of its inhabitants.29 By then, the exodus of Palestinians to Jordan’s East Bank was already in full swing. The conquest of Jericho, a town located near the Allenby Bridge on the River Jordan, and the dynamiting of the Jordan bridges were delayed so that the West Bankers could cross over to the other side unhindered. On June 9, at the request of US Undersecretary Eugene Rostow, the government of Iran told the Israeli government “that it would be a mistake to drive the Arab population from the West Bank.”30 But to no avail.
Tens of thousands were fleeing their homes as people in war zones always do, and for fears fed by the bitter memories of what had happened in the Nakbah (catastrophe) of 1948. But Israeli troops also played a role in the outflow. Because of the world’s watchful eye there were no mass expulsions of the same magnitude as in 1948. The Israelis applied more “subtle” methods to drive the West Bankers out. Using loudspeakers mounted on army vehicles and radio broadcasts, they advised the population that they should take the road to the River Jordan “or face the consequences.” Shooting in the air or even shooting above people’s heads served as additional inducement to leave. The occupation authorities launched a free one-way bus service from Arab Jerusalem and other West Bank towns to the river crossings. The buses carried signs in Arabic which read: “To Amman for free.” In several places Israeli troops forced Palestinian inhabitants onto waiting buses and trucks.
After the fighting had ended, the Israeli military attempted to obliterate the prewar border. Soldiers razed, completely or partially, twenty West Bank villages and towns along the Green Line. The villagers were rendered homeless, and consequently many of them crossed the river eastward. The long columns of refugees from the ruined villages increased panic and drove more West Bankers to escape. In the Old City of Jerusalem the Israelis leveled Harat al-Magharibah, the eight-centuries-old waqf-owned North African quarter of 650 inhabitants immediately adjacent to the Wailing Wall in order to create a plaza for Jewish worshippers. On the Syrian Golan Heights a systematic and comprehensive demolition operation began as soon as the final ceasefire took effect. The bulk of the Golan population had run away before the Israeli assault, yet some who had stayed were driven out forcibly. The destruction of their 200 villages and farms was meant to ensure that there would be no homes to which the Golanites could return. Only 6,000 Druze, living in half a dozen villages in the northern part of the region, were allowed to stay.31
A second Arab refugee tragedy was born. In early July 1967 its victims amounted to 345,000 at the very least.32 The new refugees were internationally designated as “displaced persons” (nazihun in Arabic) to distinguish them from the 1948 refugees (Arabic: laji’un). In fact, many were both. The Israelis called them notshim, Hebrew for “quitters.”33 The political leaders of Israel, who had not instigated the military orgy of expulsion and ruination, wholeheartedly welcomed its outcome. Although the army’s actions involved numerous war crimes, no one was held to account or brought to justice. A few weeks after the war, in a gathering of the General Command Staff, Defense Minister Dayan referred to the destruction spree in the West Bank and said that it had been motivated by “Zionist intentions” which he fully shared.34
Following the precedent set by the Israeli government of 1948, the Eshkol cabinet barred repatriation of the 1967 refugees. Whereas its predecessor was motivated by the desire to minimize the number of non-Jews within the newly created State of Israel, now the government denied the June War refugees entry to Arab lands under Israeli military occupation. The government defied a unanimous UN Security Council resolution demanding Israel facilitate the return of uprooted civilians,35 and did not heed similar calls from Washington, London, and other friendly capitals. But mounting international outcry and strong American pressure compelled the Israeli government to go through the motions of changing its position by announcing a return program. Dubbed Mivtsa‘ Palit—Hebrew for Operation Refugee—and presented as a benevolent Israeli “gesture,” the scheme was not intended to allow a mass return from the East Bank, but only to look like one. Limited to twelve working days, the admittance of the new refugees was frustrated by a host of bureaucratic obstacles. In addition, the scheme excluded Jerusalem inhabitants, UNRWA-registered 1948 refugees, and men of working age. The latter restriction, which principally covered breadwinners, also prevented their family members from coming back. Consequently, only 14,000 of the 170,000 applicants—a mere 8.2%—were allowed in.36 Ensuing diplomatic pressure drove Israel to introduce a long-range family reunion plan, which was also a sham.
Many West Bankers, stranded in the East Bank in appalling conditions, tried to infiltrate back by crossing the shallow waters of the River Jordan. Hundreds were shot dead by Israeli troops who regularly ambushed them on the ceasefire line. According to the chilling testimony of an Israeli soldier:
We were given an order to shoot to kill with no early warning. Indeed, shots of this kind were fired every night at men, women, and children, even during moonlit nights when we could identify the people crossing [the river]. That is, distinguish between men, women, and children. In the mornings we searched the area and, by explicit order from the officer present, killed the living, including those who hid [or] were wounded (again: women and children among them). After the killing we covered the corpses with earth, and sometimes left them [lying] in the terrain until a bulldozer came to cover them with earth.37
At the root of the Israeli desire to reduce the Arab population has always been the so-called “demographic danger”—the fear of undermining the overwhelming Jewish majority within the state’s limits. The same consideration was now applied to the occupied territories as well, particularly the Palestinian-inhabited West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Arab Jerusalem. “Crush me with a mortar,” Premier Eshkol once said, “and I wouldn’t know how to swallow another million Arabs in this country. By doing so we would liquidate ourselves.”38 While highlighting the small size of Israel’s population (2.77 million in 1967, of whom 2.38 million were Jews and 393,000 non-Jews, mostly Palestinian Arabs), Eshkol regarded the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of sovereign Israel. Explaining in the Knesset why he rejected the idea of resettling 1948 refugees in the occupied territories and insisting on resolving the refugee problem elsewhere, the prime minister exclaimed: we are not allowed to place a time bomb in Israel.39 Foreign Minister Abba Eban, a self-proclaimed dove, also drew on a deadly simile to make the same case: there was a limit, he said at a party forum, to the amount of arsenic the human body could absorb. In response to those who might question the morality of his attitude, Eban added that any Arab wishing to live in an Arab state was free to do so.40
While the 1948 and 1967 refugees were demanding the right of return, Israel was only willing to grant the Palestinian population under its control the right to leave. From late 1967 onward, various branches of the government were engaged in a number of top-secret schemes designed to facilitate Palestinian emigration to Jordan, other Arab countries, and even further afield, especially South America. These efforts predominantly targeted the 1948 refugees living in the Gaza Strip. “Twenty years ago we did a job and the result is that there are refugees. Now again there are additional refugees, and again we want to get rid of them,” Premier Eshkol once bemoaned in a cabinet meeting. “Had it been up to us, we would have removed all the Arabs to Brazil.”41 But all attempts to induce mass Palestinian emigration failed, either because of the meager financial incentives Israel was willing to offer or due to Palestinian determination to cling on to their land.42
The postwar era began with Israel’s official voice chanting peace. “Our hand is extended in peace to all who are ready for peace,” Premier Eshkol solemnly stated.43 The policy-makers vowed not to return to the erstwhile no-war-no-peace situation. The Armistice Agreements, they stressed, must be replaced with peace treaties arrived at through direct negotiations. However, the seemingly reasonable demand for reconciliation and permanent borders was doublespeak. What the Israelis were really saying was that they rejected not only the previous status but also the old frontiers. Indeed, Israel was speaking with more than one voice. While Eshkol claimed on one occasion that he did not want any Arab territory and expressed satisfaction that “at last we have something we can bargain with,”44 Defense Minister Dayan articulated the government’s true objective: Israel, he said, should keep major portions of its conquests, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip.45 When asked what Israel’s next move would be, Dayan replied arrogantly: “We are waiting for a phone call from the Arabs. We shall take no step. We are quite pleased with what we have now. If the Arabs desire any change, they should call us.”46
Israeli propaganda has incessantly alleged that there was no one to talk to on the Arab side. This was untrue. The phone call Dayan had expected came without delay. In fact, the telephone rang twice: first there was a local call from the occupied West Bank, and soon afterward Jordan was on the line. Whereas Syria rejected any kind of accommodation with Israel, and Egypt under President Nasser was still not ready to negotiate seriously an accord with its Jewish neighbor, the two claimants to the West Bank and Arab Jerusalem—the local Palestinian leadership and Jordan’s King Hussein, the biggest losers in the Six Day War—were eager to resolve the conflict with Israel directly. Both communicated their peaceful ambition from the start of the occupation. They offered Israel two competing options for a settlement. The West Bankers embodied what became known in Israel as the “Palestinian option,” while the Hashemite Kingdom was considered the “Jordanian option.”
The Palestinian option presented itself even before the war was over. The political elite of Arab Jerusalem and the West Bank effectively suggested a two-state solution—an idea then regarded by most Arabs as anathema. This elite was mostly comprised of traditional leaders and a‘yan (Arabic for notables), and many of them were part of the Jordanian establishment. In the summer of 1967 they could deliver because the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was then an insignificant body, largely controlled by Egypt, and the Palestinian guerrilla movements, notably al-Fateh, were still limited in number and appeal. In the wake of the June debacle the local leaders realized that a new situation had arisen, and with it new prospects: they could now turn the Palestinian problem, a humanitarian issue since 1948, back into a matter of nationhood. The annexation of Arab Jerusalem in the end of June shocked the notables; disabused, they changed tack and opted for a Jordanian–Israeli settlement. Only a small group still advocated the creation of a Palestinian entity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with Arab Jerusalem as its capital. Nonetheless, they all wished to resolve the conflict with Israel peacefully.
It would soon become apparent that the June 1967 War had catapulted the Palestinians onto center stage, but for many years Israel (as well as the US) myopically refused to recognize their emergence as an independent political factor—a nation with a legitimate claim to statehood. During the early days of the occupation a handful of senior Israeli officials and army officers advocated unilateral plans for a Palestinian satellite mini-state, autonomous region, or “canton”—Bantustan actually—in the northern half of the West Bank, but the policymakers would have none of this. Israel not only ignored the overtures of the Palestinians under occupation, but also banned any political organization and denied Palestinian requests to convene and discuss possible solutions. The Israelis, desiring a trouble-free occupation, were not looking for independent-minded leaders, but for lackeys. In July 1967, Israel’s internal security service Shabak launched a top-secret operation aiming to turn West Bank leaders into quislings.47 In the same month Israel began to exile Palestinian leaders who did not toe the official line, and in September it started to deport them to the East Bank.
The Jordanian option was a different matter because the Johnson administration wanted Israel to negotiate a settlement with King Hussein, Washington’s long-time ally. The American postwar Middle East policy was set within the context of the global Cold War. In the aftermath of the hostilities the Soviet Union, alarmed by the crushing defeat of its Egyptian and Syrian clients and equally humiliated, deepened its penetration into the region. This development unsettled the US, which feared losing the pro-Western Jordanian monarch. Thus, the Americans urged an Israeli–Jordanian dialogue.
Between the summer of 1963 and the fall of 1966, Jordan and Israel had been the best of enemies. In 1963, Hussein had initiated a secret face-to-face exchange with Israel, leading to a peaceful coexistence. But the devastating Israeli raid on the West Bank village of Samu‘ in November 1966—in response to a Syrian-sponsored al-Fateh attack—shattered Hussein’s trust in Israel; the king felt betrayed. And yet the loss of the Old City and the West Bank prompted Hussein to resume contact in the hope of getting them back. On July 2, a bare three weeks after the war, the king secretly met Ya‘acov Herzog, Premier Eshkol’s confidant, in London. Hussein said that he was trying to set up an Arab summit conference to decide what course the Arabs should take. Should he fail to achieve a united Arab line for peace, he would feel free to act unilaterally in relation to Israel.48
Hussein did not wait for an Arab summit. Ten days later, and with President Nasser’s approval, the king conveyed to Israel his readiness to negotiate a bilateral accord. Through the Americans and the British, Hussein asked Israel for its peace terms. US Secretary of State Dean Rusk viewed Hussein’s initiative as “a major act of courage” that “offers the first important breakthrough toward peace.”49 But the unenthusiastic Israeli response, which lacked anything of substance, drove Hussein to shelve his peace proposal. This became a repeating pattern which characterized direct Israeli–Jordanian contacts henceforth: time and again Hussein inquired about Israeli peace ideas; time and again the Israelis untruthfully told him that his curiosity would be satisfied in full at the negotiating table. In reality, however, Israeli policymakers decided not to decide: on June 19 the cabinet agreed “to defer the discussion of the position regarding Jordan.”50 The deferral turned out to be permanent.
In short, Israel chose neither the Palestinian option nor the Jordanian one. Instead, it played one option off against the other as part of a prevarication strategy.
Foreign Policy of Deception
The Israelis’ main concern was not the Arabs but the Americans. On the eve of the war, France, hitherto Israel’s major arms supplier, particularly of the front-line Mirage fighters, announced a Middle East arms embargo that affected Israel alone; it refused to deliver fifty already paid-for Mirages. Israel desperately needed new aircraft after losing a fifth of its combat planes in the hostilities. America became Israel’s only hope for replenishing its air power. But on June 8, Washington also imposed a Middle East arms embargo. Both presidents, Charles de Gaulle of France and Lyndon Johnson of the US, were annoyed by the Israeli offensive against Egypt despite their separate strong advice not to fire the first shot. There was no prospect of de Gaulle’s hostile attitude toward Israel being reversed. Johnson, on the other hand, was a great friend of the Jewish state. In the precarious postwar circumstances the Israelis were doubly aware that they should not alienate the president and his administration.
Furthermore, Israel sought urgent American help in the diplomatic battle that promptly followed the shooting war. The Soviet Union, acting on behalf of Egypt and Syria, tabled a UN resolution demanding an immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal behind the June 4 lines. The Israelis counted on Washington to lead the struggle against the Soviet move, but the American position complicated matters. The US accepted the Israeli insistence on replacing the prewar situation with peace settlements, but held that the final borders should not be different from the 1949 Armistice lines, save for minor and reciprocal modification.
Worse still for Israel, the all-Arab postwar position, which was adopted at a summit conference in Khartoum, Sudan, in late August was regarded by the international community—including the US and the president himself—as promisingly moderate: for the first time in the history of the Arab–Israeli conflict, the leaders of the Arab states (excluding Syria which boycotted the summit), who before the war had called for the final liquidation of Israel, decided to resort to political and diplomatic means rather than military ones in order to recover the lands they had lost in the Naksah (setback) of June 1967.51 King Hussein, in particular, was considered by Washington as a peaceseeker. Though remaining more committed to Israel, the Johnson administration had a sense of duty toward Hussein. In the fall of 1967, the Americans assured him that he would regain the territory he had lost in the war within six months,52 and they continually pressured Israel to negotiate a settlement with Jordan.
Unwilling to pay the inescapable territorial price for peace, the Israelis adamantly sidestepped any bona fide discussion with Jordan. “I fear the day when we have to sit face to face and conduct negotiations [with the Arabs],” Premier Eshkol candidly admitted in a closed meeting.53 With no intention to negotiate peace, the Israeli government had only short-term or ad hoc political objectives. The first was to prevent a UN resolution demanding a prompt and complete return to the status quo ante. This goal was partially achieved. Five months into the occupation, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242 that called for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories—not the (or all the) occupied territories. The so-called (mainly by the Israelis) ambiguous wording was not ambiguous at all, because the resolution’s preamble explicitly underlined “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.”54 (In his memoirs Defense Minister Dayan goes so far as to argue that this phrase contributed to Syria and Egypt’s decision to launch the October 1973 Yom Kippur War.55) In any case, Resolution 242 enshrined the principle of land-for-peace, and initiated a peace mission that was entrusted to the Swedish diplomat Gunnar Jarring. While dodging full acceptance of the resolution, Israel’s next objective was to keep the Jarring mission afloat without engaging in substantive discussion so as to avoid renewed debate at the Security Council leading to a much tougher resolution than 242.
Procuring new US-made fighter aircraft, especially fifty F-4 Phantoms, was another critical goal of Israel’s postwar foreign policy. In January 1968, shortly after the American suspension of arms shipments to the Middle East had been lifted, Eshkol traveled to Lyndon Johnson’s ranch in Texas and begged the president to authorize the sale. “[P]eace was not to be saved by 27 or 50 new planes,” Johnson told Eshkol, and emphasized that much more was required, “including positive moves toward a peaceful settlement.” The president demanded to know “what kind of Israel we would be expected to assist”; that is to say, how Israel envisaged its final boundaries. The question remained unanswered.56
Eshkol’s silence reflected the Israeli effort to obscure its overarching postwar objective, which was to preserve the territorial status quo without losing American material and diplomatic support. To this end the Eshkol government applied a foreign policy of deception. In fact, the term “policy” is somewhat misleading. No explicit decision regarding such a policy was taken. After all, no Israeli government has ever been accused of having an organized and systematic decision-making process, or of ever adopting a long-range policy. (Foreign Minister Abba Eban conceded retrospectively that criticism of the Israeli cabinet’s decision-making was justified.57) However, a series of cabinet resolutions and ad hoc governmental decisions and actions added up to a consistent policy of deception, the aim of which was to mislead the international community—first and foremost the US—into thinking that Israel was seriously seeking a peaceful settlement with its Arab neighbors.
The Six Day War itself began with a deception. Less than half an hour after Israel started the hostilities by blasting the Egyptian fighter aircraft on their runways, a pre-prepared official announcement claimed that “[t]he Egyptian forces opened an air and land offensive this morning…. our forces went out to meet them.”58 The reason for the lie was President Johnson’s stark warning not to fire the first shot. Contrary to claims in the existing literature, Johnson never replaced the red light he had given Israel against striking Egypt with a green or amber one. This was the reason why Foreign Minister Eban stressed in the first cabinet meeting after the war that it was extremely important that Johnson should think Israel had been responding to an Egyptian assault.59
The next deceptive move took place in the following week. Aiming to convince Washington of not having territorial appetite, on June 19 the Israeli cabinet passed a resolution that seemingly proposed a withdrawal from the occupied Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights in return for contractual peace with Egypt and Syria, respectively. But there was a catch. The resolution provided that the peace accords should be “based on the international borders and the security needs of Israel”—a formulation intended to allow Israel to retain substantial portions of Sinai and the Golan.60 In other words, Israel was far less magnanimous than it wanted the US to think. Furthermore, the June 19 resolution was not a generous peace offer but a diplomatic maneuver to win over the Johnson administration. When Foreign Minister Eban conveyed the substance of the resolution to Secretary of State Rusk two days later, he significantly left out the “security needs” caveat.61 In his autobiography, published in 1978, Eban claims that the Americans conveyed the Israeli “peace proposal” to Cairo and Damascus, and that both immediately rebuffed it.62 In reality, however, the cabinet ideas were meant for Washington’s ears alone and never reached the Arabs. Nonetheless, dozens of scholars and writers have recycled Eban’s fictitious tale unchallenged, thereby creating a myth of Israel’s postwar largess and insurmountable Arab animosity.63
The establishment of the first civilian settlement on Syria’s Golan Heights in July proved that the cabinet’s June 19 resolution was anything but a genuine peace initiative. In September, on the day a second civilian settlement came into being in the West Bank, the government decided that “as a ‘cover’ for the purpose of [Israel’s] diplomatic campaign” the new settlements should be presented as army settlements and the settlers should be given the necessary instructions in case they were asked about the nature of their settlement.64 The Foreign Ministry directed Israel’s diplomatic missions to present the settlements in the occupied territories as military “strongpoints” and to emphasize their alleged security importance.65
The annexation of Arab Jerusalem together with a considerably larger area surrounding the Old City to the north, east, and south, also involved deception. Aware of the breach of international law, the annexation was carried out on June 27 by swift passage in the Knesset of three laws that deliberately did not mention Jerusalem or use the term “annexation.” But this was annexation in all but name. The Foreign Ministry instructed its diplomats abroad to conceal the true meaning of the legislation. Nevertheless, the UN General Assembly instantly called on Israel to rescind the annexation.66 Foreign Minister Eban responded in a letter to the UN Secretary General, saying: “The term ‘annexation’ … is out of place. The measures adopted relate to the integration of Jerusalem in the administrative and municipal spheres …”67 It took Israel thirteen years to formally drop the charade when the Knesset passed Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, whose first article reads: “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”68
As noted, the international community believed that the Arabs emerged from their summit conference in Khartoum (August 29–September 1) with a moderate approach. In fact, the Israelis themselves felt the same way. Major General Aharon Yariv, the Military Intelligence chief, acknowledged that it had been decided at the summit to seek a “political solution.”69 Ya‘acov Herzog, Premier Eshkol’s hawkish adviser, maintained that the Khartoum resolutions marked an Arab advance toward peace.70 Even Eshkol alluded in a press interview to “some very limited progress” at Khartoum.71 But Israeli propaganda chose to highlight the three “no’s” included in the resolutions—no sulh (Arabic for peace in its deepest sense; reconciliation) with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel—as unequivocal proof of Arab intransigence. While Western diplomats in Khartoum viewed the three “no’s” as the usual ritualistic sloganeering,72 Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s ambassador to Washington from early 1968, observed that the three “no’s” are implicitly included in UN Security Council Resolution 242, which Israel eventually accepted.73 Notwithstanding, Abba Eban, the architect of Israel’s foreign policy of deception, suggested that due to the inclination of the world press to characterize the Khartoum resolutions as moderate, the government should expose them as extreme.74
In early November, King Hussein arrived in Washington. He assured the Americans, privately as well as publicly, that he and his fellow Arab leaders agreed at Khartoum “to reach permanent peace (silm) with all our neighbors.”75 The Israeli response was swift. The cabinet launched a premeditated anti-Hussein propaganda campaign whose aim was to trash the king’s positive image in world opinion and to discredit his peaceful statements.76 This was to no avail. Washington increased its pressure on Israel to negotiate a settlement with the Jordanian monarch. In an attempt to put off the evil hour, the Israelis turned to the hitherto-ignored Palestinian option. The idea was to present the Palestinians in the occupied territories as an alternative to Hussein by holding extensive talks with the local leadership. “Hussein is scared to death of this,” said Defense Minister Dayan, who strongly advocated the “Palestinian alternative” stratagem.77 The talks with the West Bank leadership lasted three months and led nowhere, but they dispersed a dark cloud which might have hung over Eshkol’s forthcoming talks with President Johnson.
In December the UN peace envoy Gunnar Jarring embarked on his Sisyphean mission. While the Arabs insisted on an Israeli withdrawal as a first step, Israel demanded unconditional direct negotiations. None of the parties was willing to relent. Foreign Minister Eban, who feared that the failure of the Jarring mission would have grave consequences for Israel at the Security Council, proudly boasted in a confidential forum about the scheme he had devised to preempt such an eventuality: Israel, he said, was feeding Jarring with numerous procedural proposals, which the Arabs simply dismissed. The accumulating proposals were kept in a special dossier in order to demonstrate to the Security Council Israel’s positive approach, compared with the Arab negative attitude. The dossier, Eban added, should be made as thick as possible because it was also important in the short run to maintain the support of the US and other friendly governments.78
All the while, the secret channel of contacts between King Hussein and Eshkol’s confidant Ya‘acov Herzog remained open. In early May 1968 Abba Eban himself met the king. The foreign minister now heard firsthand what he had already known—that Hussein was eager to negotiate a peaceful settlement with Israel. In view of this and the growing American resentment at Israel’s evasive behavior, it seemed that the crunch had finally arrived. In a further attempt to play for time, Israel redoubled its double game. As regards Hussein, Eban summarized the Israeli line in a closed meeting in June: The government, he said, was not engaged in a peace process but in a tactical political struggle designed to maintain the status quo and to avoid foreign political intervention. Only contacts with Hussein could save Israel from this. Israel, therefore, should maintain “a futile discussion” with Jordan “which should last weeks and months.”79
Eban frequently described his diplomatic approach as takhsisanut—Hebrew for “tactics” or “trickery”; he undoubtedly meant the former, but in reality it was the latter. Eban’s purpose was to deflect American pressure by keeping the contacts with Hussein going so that there should be a follow-up meeting with Hussein, and then another one, and yet a third. But in the second half of 1968, as Washington put further pressure on Israel to negotiate seriously with Jordan, the Israelis were compelled to talk substance with Hussein for the first time.
The meeting took place in London on September 27. Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon accompanied Eban, and the two men presented the Allon Plan, which offered Hussein two-thirds of the West Bank in the shape of an enclave with a narrow connecting corridor to the East Bank. Regarding Jerusalem, Israel was willing to bestow on Hussein the status of Guardian of the Muslim Holy Places, but nothing more.80 The Allon Plan was presented in full knowledge that it was totally unacceptable to Hussein. Moreover, the plan was never approved by the cabinet. Most important, the Allon Plan was not a genuine peace plan. In the words of none other than its author, Yigal Allon: “No Arab would ever accept the plan and nothing will come out of it, but we must appear before the world with a positive plan.”81
As if all this was not enough, the Israelis insisted on the Jewish “historical association” with biblical Eretz Yisrael. They told Hussein that in practical terms the historical association of the Jews with the Land of Israel meant that Jews should enjoy the right to settle anywhere in the West Bank, regardless of sovereignty, and to come and go as they pleased.82 In November 1967, when Herzog first presented the concept of the Jewish “historical association” and its meaning to Hussein, the king smiled wistfully and asked: “What were the limits of the land?”83
In the summer of 1968 Israel also played the Palestinian card by attempting to establish an Arab civil administration in the West Bank, run by local collaborators and devoid of power. Defense Minister Dayan’s intention was to replace the existing occupation regime that had been imposed on the West Bankers, with a new situation, which would be basically the same but would enjoy the endorsement of the inhabitants in a bilateral agreement.84 Within a couple of months the Arab civil administration scheme ended in fiasco, but Israeli diplomacy—whose paramount guideline was to perpetuate the territorial status quo by playing for time—used the botched initiative to claim that the government was still weighing the Palestinian option as well as the Jordanian one.85
Neither the international community nor King Hussein of Jordan was fooled by Israeli duplicity. In December 1968, during a meeting with William Scranton, President-elect Richard Nixon’s special emissary to the Middle East, Hussein handed him a written statement describing in no uncertain terms the Israeli attitude:
For whatever reason, Israel is not truly serious in negotiating a settlement with Jordan…. Israel has adopted a transparent and cynical policy of using the excuse of alleged negotiations in an attempt to prevent or delay any possible pressure from outside, and thus … to avoid having to make any decisions of the terms of the final settlement.86
The Americans possessed the necessary levers to exert influence on Israel, but despite their awareness of Israel’s prevarication they did not use these levers. On the contrary, in October 1968 the friendly President Johnson approved Israel’s request for fifty Phantom fighter-bombers. During the negotiations with Ambassador Rabin over the terms of the sale, senior White House officials Walt Rostow and Harold Saunders, frustrated and irritated, burst out saying:
We’ve told you the US position ad nauseam—you have to give the West Bank back, you have to give Hussein a role in Jerusalem, a “Polish corridor” to Sharm el-Sheikh doesn’t make sense. When Allon was here, we told him what we thought of his plan. If the Israelis aren’t tired of hearing this, we’d be glad to say it again, but we think they’ve known all along what our position is if they’ve been listening.87
Harsh words indeed, but again they were not followed by action. And so, Israel kept pursuing the same line of avoiding peace by insisting on unacceptable terms. In the spring of 1969 Foreign Minister Eban boasted behind the closed doors of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that “for the past two years our political strategy has been … to insert a sufficient number of obstacles and explosives into any American document [about an Arab–Israeli settlement] so that the Arabs could not accept it.” Among the “obstacles and explosives”—which Israel, Eban stressed, must “nurture and fortify”—was the demand that the final borders should be different from the prewar boundaries.88 In May 1972 Prime Minister Golda Meir, Eshkol’s successor, shared with the Shah of Iran in a secret meeting in Teheran what she and every other Israeli leader were persistently denying publicly: “There have been contacts [with Hussein]. With respect to a comprehensive solution, the king is perhaps ready for a separate peace, but according to his own plan, which means a return to [the] 1967 [lines]. This is, of course, inconceivable to us.”89
The common Israeli argument has been that the quest for peace in the aftermath of the June 1967 War proved abortive because the Arabs only understood “the language of force.”90 In fact, it was the Israelis who spoke only the language of force. The use of excessive force against innocent civilians has become an Israeli trademark; it has been particularly apparent in the way Israel reacted to Palestinian terrorism.
The attempts of the fledgling Palestinian muqawamah (Arabic for resistance) organizations outside the occupied territories to establish underground bases inside the West Bank during the first months of the occupation did not win the support of the local population, and were quickly crushed by the Israelis. Consequently the guerilla groups—with al-Fateh in the lead—used the eastern Ghor, or Jordan Valley, as a launch pad for their armed struggle against Israel. The hit-and-run terrorist attacks of the fida’iyyun (self-sacrificing commandos) increased considerably in early 1968, killing and injuring many Israelis, soldiers and non-combatants alike. Israel reacted ferociously by adopting a policy of hoshamah—a Hebrew biblical term meaning destruction—of Jordan’s eastern Ghor (as well as the western bank of the Suez Canal, in response to Egyptian fire). Using heavy artillery shelling, air bombardments, and even acts of terrorism such as planting mines, the Israelis deliberately targeted civilians.91
“I am in favor of striking the village on the opposite side with artillery, even if it hits civilians,” Premier Eshkol said during a cabinet discussion in the wake of a terrorist attack on a kibbutz in the Beisan Valley in October 1967. “I won’t be put off if people get killed, but I wouldn’t want women and children [to be among them].” Menachem Begin, a cabinet member and future prime minister, commented that hitting civilians is an integral part of the cruelty of war.92 In the spring of 1968 Dayan suggested that the eastern Ghor should become “a graveyard,” and Lieutenant General Haim Bar-Lev, the army’s new chief of staff, assured the defense minister that the plan to turn the East Bank into “a wasteland” had already been executed.93
By then the eastern Ghor had been emptied of most of its inhabitants, the majority of whom were old and new Palestinian refugees living in makeshift tent camps. The Israeli fury forced them to flee eastward to the highlands, and thus becoming displaced for the second or the third time. According to official estimates, only 8,700 people out of some 75,000 remained in the Ghor.94 But fida’iyyun terrorism continued unabated, and so did Israeli disproportionate retaliation and so-called preemptive assaults, striking hard, deep into Jordan’s territory, including the city of Irbid and the town of al-Salt. In one case, Lt. Gen. Bar-Lev ordered a massive shelling of Irbid in response to artillery fire on the Israeli town of Beit She’an. As a result, an entire quarter of Irbid was destroyed. Bar-Lev referred to actions of this kind as “visiting cards.”95
Both the fida’iyyun and Israel inflicted death on innocent civilians, but the toll on the Arab side was far higher. When Israel complained to the Americans about its civilian casualties, the dismissive response was, according to Ambassador Rabin’s reporting: “The Egyptians didn’t hit a single one of your citizens along the Suez [Canal], and yet you destroyed three Egyptian cities. You did that with canons in Egypt, and with aircraft in Jordan. So don’t talk about civilian casualties because you do more of this than them [the Arabs].”96 Washington’s resentment of the Israeli approach was reflected in voting for a series of unanimous condemnatory resolutions at the UN Security Council.97 At the same time, however, the US reversed its pre-1967 policy of not being Israel’s main arms supplier, thereby transforming Israel into a regional power. Considered a strategic asset by the Americans, Israel effectively enjoyed impunity for its indiscriminate belligerency.
But the Israeli behavior not only failed in its aim of stopping Palestinian terrorism, it often backfired resoundingly. A glaring example is the massive raid on the main al-Fateh base in the Jordanian town of al-Karameh in March 1968. Instead of dealing the intended lethal blow to the Palestinian guerrillas, the ill-planned and ill-executed incursion served the resistance organizations as a recruiting sergeant by inspiring thousands of highly motivated young Palestinians to join their ranks. Although the battle of Karameh98 was no Arab military victory, it went down in Palestinian history as their Stalingrad: the fida’iyyun (and Jordanian army units) stood up to the mighty Israeli army and shattered its image of invincibility.99 The resulting prestige of the guerrillas enabled them in February 1969 to gain full control of the PLO. The Palestinian center of gravity now shifted entirely to outside the occupied territories, and the moderate West Bank leadership lost any political weight. This development rendered useless the Israeli “Palestinian alternative” stratagem, which was part of its foreign policy of deception. Before long, the PLO became the sole recognized representative of the Palestinian people. And all this was Israel’s doing.
February 1969 also marked the death of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, which heralded the end of the first chapter of the post-June 1967 War era. During the preceding twenty-one months, Eshkol’s National Unity Government set the stage for five decades of occupation that still continues. Subsequent governments followed the same policy even more vigorously. The desire to control the entire Land of Israel, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights, was unrelenting. When Secretary of State Dean Rusk reminded Abba Eban of Israel’s June 5, 1967 pledges of having no territorial ambitions, the foreign minister “simply shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘We’ve changed our minds.’”100 In his 1993 memoirs, Eban cites King Hussein cautioning “that Israel can have either peace or territory, but not both. This,” Eban goes on, “is not far from being a universal international consensus.”101 A quarter of a century earlier, however, Eban was instrumental in the Israeli efforts to have the territory at the expense of peace.
Little attention has been paid in the existing literature to Israel’s voracious territorial appetite in the immediate aftermath of the June 1967 War, although the evidence is there for all to see. For example, four months after the war, when a newspaper interviewer mentioned to Eshkol the Israeli formula that there would be no change to the postwar map of Israel and the occupied territories without negotiations with the Arabs, the premier interjected: “And if there were negotiations, does it mean that there would be a change [to the map]? I’ve asked myself this question. Another formula should have been found.” In response to another question Eshkol said that Israel should not hurry to look for an Arab peace partner.102
The traumatic Yom Kippur War of October 1973 was the direct result of the Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir governments’ refusal to take the road to peace. In a press interview in December 1973, when Israel was still licking its war wounds, Abba Eban expressed regrets at the attitude of these two governments: during the past six years, the foreign minister said, they had initiated no peace plan, and had rejected every peace plan put forward by the international community, acting “like theater critics who have a negative view of every single play or work they see.”103
In a public lecture a decade and a half later, Major General (ret.) Aharon Yariv, who during the period under review headed the Military Intelligence Branch, and in the mid-1970s served as a cabinet minister, launched a scathing criticism of the government’s postwar approach:
We [Israel] didn’t take advantage of the time for political activity. What it might have been possible to do during the first [few months after war], was impossible to do afterwards…. As a result of the Six Day War we were once again in direct proximity with the Palestinians, with whom we have the most serious struggle. And not a single political link was made [with them]…. I mean, as regards [our] future relations and all that is connected with the Palestinian entity [concept] and so on. Regrettably, this didn’t happen [then], and still doesn’t today [i.e. January 1988].104
Israel’s peace policy was best summarized by Yosef Sapir, a cabinet minister between June 1967 and August 1970, shortly after he had resigned the government. “What we [Israel] did during the previous four years was done in order to gain time…. [A]ny gain in time is in our favor.”105
This Israeli policy is the origin of the running sore that still plagues Arab/Palestinian–Israeli relations today.
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(1) Between 1958 and 1971, Egypt’s official name was the United Arab Republic.
(11) Remarks at a Meeting of Mapai Secretariat, June 8, 1967, Levi Eshkol (2002: document 174).
(12) “Moshe Dayan: Self-Examination,” Yedi‘ot Ahronot (Tel Aviv), April 27, 1997. Published sixteen years after Dayan’s death, the article is based on notes from conversations with Dayan in late 1976 and early 1977.
(14) In the June and July polls, 98% and 95% (respectively) supported the retention of Arab Jerusalem; the West Bank—81% and 86%; the Gaza Strip—72% and 77%; the Golan Heights—92% in July; Sharm al-Sheikh—82% and 85%; Sinai—33% and 32%. Lammfromm (2014: 489).
(18) “M. Dayan: ‘We Must Not Return to the Borders Determined in 1948,’” Davar (Tel Aviv) August 10, 1967.
(22) Minutes, “Mayor’s Meeting with the Deputies and Others,” August 10, 1967, 1331/1, Jerusalem City Archive.
(23) Cabinet Resolutions 563, June 19, 1967; and 95, October 31, 1968—both in A-7060/6, Israel State Archives, Jerusalem (ISA).
(26) Meron to Foreign Minister, September 14, 1967; Meron to Adi Yafeh, Political Secretary to the Prime Minister, September 18, 1967—both in FM-4088/8, ISA. A decade later Meron became a law professor at New York University. Since the 2000s he has been a senior judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
(30) “Policy and Diplomacy in the Middle East Crisis, May 15–June 10, 1967” (State Department’s Historical Research Division, Research Project 879), January 1969 (p. 155), RG59 250/63/20/7, Box 4, United States National Archives, College Park, Maryland (USNA).
(32) There are no reliable statistics, but according to UN figures there were 210,000 new refugees out of the total West Bank and Arab Jerusalem population of 800,000; 35,000 out of the 356,000 Gaza Strip inhabitants; and almost the entire population of the Golan Heights of more than 100,000. Ibid.
(33) For example, a member of the Israeli mission to the UN advised a fellow diplomat: “We should use the term ‘notshim’, not ‘‘akurim’[displaced persons].” Pinhas Eliav to Amnon Ben-Yohanan, November 12, 1968, FM-4197/1, ISA.
(35) S/RES/237, June 14, 1967, UN public records (UNPR).
(38) Minutes, “A Meeting with Ministers Eban, Allon and Dayan,” May 29, 1968, A-7921/4, ISA. Emphasis added.
(39) Divrei ha-Knesset [The Knesset Proceedings], August 7, 1968, 3125. Emphasis added.
(40) Minutes, Mapai Secretariat Meeting, January 2, 1968, 2–24–1968–92, Israel Labor Party Archives, Beit Berl.
(41) Cabinet minutes, August 20, afternoon, 1967, G-16718/6, ISA.
(43) Cable, Foreign Ministry to Israeli diplomatic missions, June 27, 1967, A-7461/11, ISA, citing Eshkol’s interview with foreign television stations.
(45) “Dayan would keep major conquests,” Washington Post, June 12, 1967, citing Dayan’s prerecorded interview on NBC’s Meet the Press (aired on June 11).
(46) “Dayan: We are waiting for a phone call from the Arabs,” Ma‘ariv (Tel Aviv), June 13, 1967, citing Dayan’s BBC interview on the previous day.
(48) “Meeting with Charles [the Israeli code name for Hussein], July 2, 1967,” Ya‘acov Herzog’s private papers (YHPP).
(49) “Telegram from the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations,” July 13, 1967, FRUS 19, document 360.
(50) Cabinet Resolution 563, June 19, 1967, articles 1(c), A-7060/6, ISA.
(53) Minutes, Ministerial Security Committee, May 8, 1968, YHPP.
(54) S/RES/242, November 22, 1967, UNPR.
(56) “Memorandum of Conversation,” January 8, 1968, Session II, FRUS 20, doc. 40.
(57) Shlaim (2003: 170). Maj. Gen. (ret.) Aharon Yariv, former Military Intelligence chief (1964–1972) and cabinet minister (1974–1975), also acknowledged: “Everything we [i.e. the government] have been doing here has been improvisation.” Gilboa (2013: 691). In his Annual Report for 2002, Israel’s State Comptroller included a scathing analysis of the government’s decision-making process over the years.
(59) Cabinet minutes, June 11, 1967, A-8164/6, ISA.
(60) Cabinet Resolution 563, June 19, 1967, articles 1(a) and 1(b), A-7060/6, ISA. Emphasis added.
(61) “Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State,” June 22, 1967, FRUS 19, document 314.
(66) A/RES/2253 (ES-V), July 4, 1967, UNPR.
(67) Cited in “Measures Taken by Israel to Change the Status of the City of Jerusalem: Report of the Secretary-General,” July 10, 1967, S/8052, UNPR.
(68) Emphasis added.
(69) Minutes, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee (KFASC), September 26, 1967, A-8161/8, ISA.
(70) Herzog’s diary, September 4, 1967, A-4511/3, ISA.
(71) Ma‘ariv, 4 October 1967.
(73) Minutes, KFASC, June 29, 1970, G-16707/8, ISA. Jordan’s Foreign Minister ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Rifa‘i also argued that the Khartoum resolution coincided with UN Resolution 242. See “Mr. ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Rifa‘i’s address at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg” [on January 30, 1968], Al-Watha’iq al-Urduniyyah: 1968 [Arabic], document 10.
(74) Cabinet minutes, September 3, 1967, G-16718/7, ISA.
(75) “His Majesty King Hussein’s Address at the National Press Club in Washington,” November 7, 1967, Al-Watha’iq al-Urduniyyah: 1967 [Arabic], document 132.
(78) Minutes, KFASC, January 19, 1968, A-8161/10, ISA.
(79) Minutes, Labor Party Expanded Political Committee, June 3, 1968, A-7921/13, ISA.
(80) Minutes, “Meeting with Charles, on September 27th, 1968, in London (15.30–17.00 p.m.),” YHPP.
(83) Report by Ya‘acov Herzog, “Two Meetings with Charles (On the morning of November 19th and on the morning of November 20th respectively),” YHPP.
(84) Minutes, “Consultation on the Arabs’ Problems in the Administered Territories,” July 3, 1968, A-7921/5, ISA.
(86) Quoted in Symmes, Amman, to State Department, December 9, 1968, NSF/Country File/Jordan, Memos, Vol. V, Box 148, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Austin, Texas.
(87) Memorandum of conversation: Walt Rostow et al. and Yitzhak Rabin et al., November 18, 1968, POL ISR-US, RG59, Central Files 1967–69, USNA.
(88) Minutes, KFASC, April 16 and 29, 1969—both in A-8162/5, ISA.
(89) “The Prime Minister’s Conversation with the Shah on Thursday, 18.5.72,” A-7028/2, ISA. In her autobiography, published three years later, Golda Meir claims that “the Arabs continued to refuse to meet us or deal with us in any way.” Meir (1975: 398).
(94) Symmes, Amman, to State Department, February 20, 1968, POL 27–9 ARAB-ISR and February 23, 1968, POL 27 ARAB-ISR—both in RG59, Central Files 1967–69, USNA; “The Transfer of the Displaced Persons from the Jordan Valley to the Highlands,” Amman, February 22, 1968, Al-Watha’iq al-Urduniyyah: 1968, document 25; “A Press Conference with His Majesty King Hussein,” Amman, March 23, 1968, ibid., document 46.
(96) Minutes, KFASC, May 20, 1969, A-8162/4, ISA.
(97) In 1968 alone, the Security Council condemned Israel four times for attacking Jordan (resolutions 248 of March 24, 256 of August 16, 258 of September 18, and 262 of December 31).
(98) Karameh means dignity in Arabic.
(102) Ma‘ariv, October 4, 1967.
(103) Ma‘ariv, 28 December 1973.
(104) Transcript, Yariv’s lecture, delivered at the annual seminar of the Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University: “The Middle East 20 Years after the Six Day War,” January 13, 1988, Dayan Center Library.
(105) Minutes, KFASC, February 2, 1971, G-16708/6, ISA.