There has been an ongoing debate as to which side started the 1967 War between the Arab world and Israel. The war ended up with Israel occupying the West Bank which has been in the news lately as Israel continues to build new settlements in the area, despite international opposition.
In the webite Quora, I have found two opposing views on this subject by two of their top writers who live in Israel. What is clear, is that war was inevitable between the Arab world and Israel anytime between 1967-1969.
Noam Kaiser in his 2/14/2014 Quora post argues that Israel did not start the 1967 War and the following details his reasoning:
The Arab League concludes to form an Arab Palestinian force to fight Israel.
The PLO is formed, its leader Yasser Arafat presents the Arab league with its charter, devoting its cause to the destruction of Israel.
The PLO carries out 35 raids from Jordan and Gaza into Israeli rural area villages.
It carries out 41 such raids.
Throughout the year Syria bombards Israeli villages in the Galilee area.
Syria and Egypt strike a mutual military pact vs Israel.
May-June 1967, prior to June 5th. (“The date on which it all began” according to anyone taking “the first round only” approach.)
May 15, 1967
Egyptian president Nasser amasses troops in the Sinai.
May 16, 1967
Nasser threatens UN secretary general U Thant expels the United Nations Emergency Force from Sinai.
May 18, 1967
Syria amasses troops in the Golan Heights.
Haffez Al Assad, then Syria defense minister, makes this statement: “Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united…I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”
May 22, 1967
Nasser shuts down the Straits of Tiran, preventing Israeli merchant ships from crossing through the Red Sea to the Indian ocean-by itself, an act of war.
May 23-27, 1967
Egyptian Field Marshal Amer planned initiating an attack on Israel on May 27, quoted telling “This time we will be the ones to start the war” meaning to hold the military initiative on the field.
The code name to that planned attack was Operation Dawn.
This was counter to Nasser’s strategy of pushing Israel to start the war, like he had in 1956- The former war Israel is blamed for starting when people ignore the historical facts concerning the hours, days, weeks, months and years that preceded the first round.
At 2:30 a.m. on May27, Soviet Ambassador to Egypt Dimitri Pojidaev knocked on Nasser’s door and read him a personal letter from the Soviet first deputy premier, Alexei Kosygin, in which he said, “We don’t want Egypt to be blamed for starting a war in the Middle East. If you launch that attack, we cannot support you.” Nasser ordered Amer to hold off the attack and do what they did in 1956 again, hours before the launch of the attack.
The rest is history. *Here’s some of it: ()
Nasser makes the following statement: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.”
May 28, 1967
Nasser makes the following statement: ”
We will not accept any…coexistence with Israel…
“Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel…The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.”
May 30, 1967
Jordan and Egypt strike mutual military pact vs. Israel.
Hussein makes the following statement:
“The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel…to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.”
June 1, 1967
At King Hussein’s request, massive Iraqi ground troops enter Jordan heading West.
President Abdul Rahman Aref of Iraq makes the following statement:
“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear–to wipe Israel off the map.”
June 4, 1967
Iraq officially joins Egypt, Syria and Jordan’s military pact vs Israel.
June 5, 1967
Having been on high alert for a month, realizing it either takes the initiative or perishes, at 7:45, Israel launches an Air Force raid, Operation Focus, destroying 452 Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, Iraqi and Lebanese aircraft and creates the conditions to win the inevitable Six-Day War.
Israel didn’t start the Six Day War. Nor did it start the Sinai campaign 11 years before. It just made sure that a war that was about to take place anyway, would end on its own terms.
Omar Zach wrote for the 7/3/2013 Quora post, presenting the point of view that there is no definitive answer as to which side was responsible for the war. Here is what he penned:
On May 22, 1967, Egypt’s President Gamal Nasser announced the closure of the Straights of Tiran to Israeli shipping. According to international law the Straits of Tiran were an international waterway and Egypt had no right to block Israeli ships from travelling through them, though Egypt disputed this. Before this incident Israel made it unambiguously clear that closing the Straits of Tiran would be seen as a casus belli.
Five days after closing the Straits of Tiran, Nasser echoed past warmongering statements against Israel, “basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.”
In the following days Egypt and Jordan signed a mutual defense pact and the Iraqi and Egyptian armies began destroying troops in Jordan. Israel observed huge Egyptian troop movements in the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel. Both Syria and Jordan had tens of thousands of troops deployed on their borders with Israel.
Finally on June 5, 1967, the Six Day War started in full force when Israel launched extensive air strikes on Egyptian Air Force warplanes and bases. They called this a “preemptive strike.” This narrative seems to strongly indicate that Egypt and its Arab allies were begging for war to begin and really were preparing to invade Israel, but according to even Yitzhak Rabin, who was then the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, “We did not think that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to Sinai on May 14 would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”
I really don’t think there’s a definitive answer to who was responsible for the war, but it’s that if there wasn’t an Arab -Isreali war in June 1967, there would have been one in July, August, or the following months.