President Nasser announces blockade of Straits of Tiran

Excerpt from a speech delivered by President Nasser to his troops in Sinai on May 23, 1967, announcing the new blockade:

… Yesterday the armed forces [of Egypt] occupied Sharm el-Sheikh. What does this mean? It is an affirmation of our rights, of our sovereignty over the Gulf of Aqaba, which constitutes Egyptian territorial waters. Under no circumstances can we permit the Israeli flag to pass through the Gulf of Aqaba. The Jews threaten war. We say that they are welcome to war, we are ready for war, our armed forces, our people, all of us are ready for war, but under no circumstances shall we abandon our rights. These are our waters …

Prime Minister Eshkol Responds to blockade

Excerpt from a speech delivered by Prime Minister Eshkol to the Knesset on May 23, 1967 after Nasser announced the blockade of the Straits of Tiran:

This morning a statement by the Egyptian President was published declaring his intention to block the international waterway which passes through the Straits of Tiran and joins the Gulf of Eilat with the Red Sea to the passage of Israeli flagships and ships of other flags whose cargoes are of a strategic character.

Members of the Knesset:

Any inference with freedom of passage in the Gulf and the Straits constitutes a gross violation of international law, a blow at the sovereign rights of other nations and an act of aggression against Israel.

As the Knesset is aware, a number of Governments, including the major maritime Powers, have publicly stated, since 1957, their intention of exercising their rights to free passage through the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Eilat.

During the past few days, the Government of Israel has been in close touch with the Governments that have proclaimed and exercised the principle of free passage in these waters since 1957. After these exchanges, I can say that international support for these rights is serious and widespread.

President Johnson Responds to Mideast tensions and Egyptian blockade

Excerpt from a speech delivered by President Johnson on May 23, 1967 after Nasser announced the blockade of the Straits of Tiran:

The danger, and it is a very grave danger, lies in some miscalculation arising from a misunderstanding of the intentions and actions of others.

The Government of the United States is deeply concerned, in particular, with three potentially explosive aspects of the present confrontation.

First, we regret that the General Armistice Agreements have failed to prevent warlike acts from the territory of one against another government or against civilians or territory under control of another government.

Second, we are dismayed at the hurried withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force from Gaza and Sinai after more than 10 years of steadfast and effective service in keeping the peace, without action by either the General Assembly or the Security Council of the United Nations. We continue to regard the presence of the United Nations in the area as a matter of fundamental importance. We intend to support its continuance with all possible vigor.

Third, we deplore the recent build-up of military forces and believe it a matter of urgent importance to reduce troop concentrations. The status of sensitive areas, as the Secretary-General emphasized in his report to the Security Council, such as the Gaza Strip and the Gulf of Aqaba, is a particularly important aspect of the situation.

In this connection I want to add that the purported closing of the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping has brought a new and very grave dimension to the crisis. The United States considers the gulf to be an international waterway and feels that a blockade of Israeli shipping is illegal and potentially disastrous to the cause of peace. The right of free and innocent passage of the international waterway is a vital interest of the entire international community.

Defense Minister Dayan speaks after Israel liberates the Western Wall

On June 7, 1967, the Israel Defence Forces liberated the Old City of Jerusalem and nineteen years of Jordanian rule came to an end. The Defence Minister, accompanied by the Chief of Staff and senior officers, arrived at the Western Wall at noon on that day. The Minister made the following statement:

This morning, the Israel Defence Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned to the holiest of our Holy Places, never to part from it again.

To our Arab neighbours we extend, also at this hour – and with added emphasis at this hour – our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples’ Holy Places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity.

Prime Minister Eshkol’s Address to the Spiritual Leaders of all communities in Jerusalem, June 7, 1967:

Before proceeding to the Western Wall, the Prime Minister invited the Chief Rabbis and spiritual leaders of other communities to his office and read the following declaration:

Honourable Chief Rabbis, Honourable Community Leaders:

I have taken the liberty to call you to this meeting in order to enable you to share with me the news of the events taking place these last few days in Jerusalem, the Holy and Eternal City.

On the Monday of this week, after the Egyptian aggression against Israel began, I announced in a radio broadcast that Israel would take no military action against any State that did not attack it. Despite this statement, the Government of Jordan – under Egyptian command – declared war upon the State of Israel and its forces and embarked upon hostile action by land and in the air. Our forces were compelled to take the necessary military steps in order to put an end to this aggression and to protect human lives. By its actions, the Government of Jordan, with the agreement of Egypt and following upon pressure from Cairo, violated international law, the United Nations Charter, and the neighbourly relations between our two countries.

In its aggression Jordan made no distinction between civilians and soldiers.

Crime was piled upon crime by Jordan when it carried war into Jerusalem, thus desecrating the eternal peace of this city, which has always been a source of hallowed inspiration to mankind. As a result of Jordanian aggression, dozens of people were killed and many hundreds were wounded. Blood was shed in the streets of Jerusalem and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dwellings were hit. There was shelling specifically directed at hospitals, synagogues, Yeshivoth, the President’s residence, the Hebrew University, the Israel Museum and Government buildings. Likewise a large number of schools in the city were hit. The shelling continued uninterruptedly from Monday until today, Wednesday. Out of consideration for the sanctity of the city, and in accordance with our policy of avoiding casualties among the civilian population, we have abstained from any answering action inside the city, despite the casualties incurred by our soldiers and citizens.

The criminal actions of Jordan’s Government shall stand before the court of international opinion and before the judgement of history.

Peace has now returned with our forces in control of all the city and its environs. You may rest assured that no harm whatsoever shall come to the places sacred to all religions. I have requested the Minister of Religious Affairs to get in touch with the religious leaders in the Old City in order to ensure regular contact between them and our forces, so as to make certain that the former may continue their spiritual activities unhindered.

Following upon my request, the Minister of Religious Affairs has issued the following instructions:

  1. arrangements in connection with the Western Wall shall be determined by the Chief Rabbis of Israel;
  2. arrangements in connection with the Moslem Holy Places shall be made by a council of Moslem clerics;
  3. arrangements connected with the Christian Holy Places shall be made by a council of Christian clergy.

With the aid of the Rock and Salvation of Israel, from Jerusalem, a symbol of peace for countless generations, from this Holy City now returned to its peace, I would like to have you join me in this call for peace among all the people of this area and of the whole world.

Exchange of letters consituting a provisional agreement1 between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and Israel concerning assistance to Palestinian refugees.
Jerusalem, June 14, 1967

1 Came into force on 14 June 1967 by the exchange of the said letters.


14 June 1967

Dear Commissioner-General,

I wish to refer to the conversations I have had with you and your colleagues within the last two days, and to confirm our agreement that, at the request of the Israel Government, UNRWA would continue its assistance to the Palestine refugees, with the full co-operation of the Israel authorities, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas.

For its part, the Israel Government will facilitate the task of UNRWA to the best of its ability, subject only to regulations or arrangements which may be necessitated by considerations of military security. On this understanding, we are prepared to agree in principle:

(a) To ensure the protection and security of the personnel, installations and property of UNRWA;
(b) To permit the free movement of UNRWA vehicles into, within and out of Israel and the areas in question;
(c) To permit the international staff of the Agency to move in, out and within Israel and the areas in question; they will be provided with identity documents and any other passes which might be required;
(d) To permit the local staff of the Agency to move within the areas in question under arrangements made or to be made with the military authorities;
(e) To provide radio, telecommunications and landing facilities;
(f) Pending a further supplementary agreement, to maintain the previously existing financial arrangements with the governmental authorities then responsible for the areas in question, concerning:

(i) Exemptions from customs duties, taxes and charges on importation of supplies, goods and equipment;
(ii) provision free of charge of warehousing, labour for offloading and handling, and transport by rail or road in the areas under our control;
(iii) such other costs to the Agency as were previously met by the governmental authorities concerned.

(g) To recognize that the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 13 February 1946,1 to which Israel is a party, shall govern the relations between the Government and UNRWA in all that concerns UNRWA’s functions.

The present letter and your acceptance in writing will be considered by the Government of Israel and by UNRWA as a provisional agreement which will remain in force until replaced or cancelled.

I have the honour to be,

Michael COMAY
Political Adviser to the Foreign Minister
and Ambassador-at-Large

Dr. Lawrence Michelmore
United Nations Relief and Works Agency

1 United Nations, Treaty Series, Vol. 1, p. 15, and Vol. 90, p.327 (corrigendum to Vol. 1, p. 18). No. 8955



14 June 1967

Your Excellency,

I refer to your letter of to-day’s date, and wish to confirm that UNRWA is willing to continue its assistance to the Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas on the basis proposed in your letter. This will be subject to such further supplementary agreements as may be required, and to detailed arrangements which UNRWA representatives will make with the authorities in the two areas concerned.

Naturally, this co-operation implies no commitment or position by UNRWA with regard to the status of any of the areas in question or of any instrument relating to them, but is concerned solely with the continuation of its humanitarian task.

As I explained in our conversation, the facilities enumerated in paras. (a) to (g) of your letter are essential if the Agency is to operate effectively. For this reason I expect that such restrictions as may for the time being be placed on the full use of those facilities will be removed as soon as considerations of military security permit this.

I agree that your letter and this reply constitute a provisional agreement between UNRWA and the Government of Israel, to remain in force until replaced or can celled. UNRWA’s agreement is subject to any relevant instructions or resolutions emanating from the United Nations.

I have the honour to be,

Yours faithfully,

His Excellency Michael Comay
Political Adviser to the Foreign Minister of Israel
and Ambassador-at-Large

Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCSM-373-67)

After the war, US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara requested the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding the relationship of land that had come under Israeli control to that country’s security. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Earle G. Wheeler, replied on June 29, 1967:

Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense

1. Reference is made to your memorandum, dated 19 June 1967, subject as above, which requested the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, without regard to political factors, on the minimum territory, in addition to that held on 4 June 1967, Israel might be justified in retaining in order to permit a more effective defense against possible conventional Arab attack and terrorist raids.

2. From a strictly military point of view, Israel would require the retention of some captured territory in order to provide militarily defensible borders. Determination of territory to be retained should be based on accepted tactical principles such as control of commanding terrain, use of natural obstacles, elimination of enemy-held salients, and provision of defense in-depth for important facilities and installations. More detailed discussions of the key border areas mentioned in the reference are contained in the Appendix hereto. In summary, the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding these areas are as follows:

a. The Jordanian West Bank. Control of the high ground running north-south through the middle of West Jordan generally east of the main north-south highway along the axis Jenin-Nablus-Bira-Jerusalem and then southeast to a junction with the Dead Sea at the Wadi el Daraja would provide Israel with a militarily defensible border. The envisioned defensive line would run just east of Jerusalem; however, provision could be made for internationalization of the city without significant detriment to Israel’s defensive posture.

b. Syrian Territory Contiguous to Israel. Israel is particularly sensitive to the prevalence of terrorist raids and border incidents in this area. The presently occupied territory, the high ground running generally north-south on a line with Qnaitra about 15 miles inside the Syrian border, would give Israel contral of the terrain which Syria has used effectively in harassing the border area.

c. The Jerusalem-Latrun Area. See subparagraph 2a, above.

d. The Gaza Strip. By occupying the Gaza Strip, Israel would trade approximately 45 miles of hostile border for eight. Configured as it is, the strip serves as a salient for introduction of Arab subversion and terrorism, and its retention would be to Israel’s military advantage.

e. The Negev-Sinai Border. Except for retention of the demilitarized zone around Al Awja and some territory for the protection of the port of Eilat, discussed below, continued occupation of the Sinai would present Israel with problems outweighing any military gains.

f. The Negev-Jordan-Aqaba-Strait of Tiran Area. Israel’s objectives here would be innocent passage through the Gulf of Aqaba and protection of its port of Eilat. Israel could occupy Sharm ash-Shaykh with considerable inconvenience but could rely on some form of internationalization to secure free access to the gulf. Failing this, Israel would require key terrain in the Sinai to protect its use of the Strait of Tiran. Eilat, situated at the apex of Israel’s narrow southern tip, is vulnerable to direct ground action from Egyptian territory. Israel would lessen the threat by retention of a portion of the Sinai Peninsula south and east of the Wadi el Gerafi then east to an intersection with the Gulf of Aqaba at approximately 29°20′ north latitude.

3. It is emphasized that the above conclusions, in accordance with your terms of reference, are based solely on military considerations from the Israeli point of view.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Earle G. Wheeler
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


Discussion of Key Israeli Border Areas

1. The Jordanian West Bank
a. Threat. The Jordan-Israeli border is 330 miles in length extending from the Gulf of Aqaba northward to the Dead Sea, thence following the armistice demarcation lines and the Jordan River northward to the Yarmuk River, thence along the Yarmuk River to the Syrian frontier. This border area has traditionally been lightly held by military forces and defenses consisted mainly of small, widely separated outposts and patrols and, therefore, afforded an area where launching of saboteurs and terrorists into Israel was relatively easy. During the period January 1965 to February 1967, a total of 53 incidents of sabotage and mining activity took place along this border. These activities resulted in three killed, 35 wounded, and damage to houses, roads, bridges, railroads, and water and electric power installations in Israel. Instances of exchange of small arms fire occurred quite frequently. The majority of these events took place from the Mount Hebron and Aravah areas where the Jordanian authorities did not take sufficient measures to protect against line crosses and saboteurs. The high ground running north-south through the middle of West Jordan overlooks Israel’s narrow midsection and offers a route for a thrust to the sea which would split the country in two parts.

b. Requirement. A boundary along the commanding terrain overlooking the Jordan River from the west could provide a shorter defense line. However, as a minimum, lsrael would need a defense line generally along the axis Bardala-Tubas-Nablus-Bira-Jerusalem and then to the northern part of the Dead Sea. This line would widen the narrow portion of Israel and provide additional terrain for the defense of Tel Aviv. It would provide additional buffer for the air base at Beersheba. In addition, this line would give a portion of the foothills to Israel and avoid inter- diction by artillery in the Israeli villages in the lowlands. This line would also provide a shorter defense line than the border of 4 June 1967 and would reduce the Jordanian salient into Israel. It also provides adequate lines of communications for lateral movement.

2. Syrian Territory Contiguous to lsrael
a. Threat. The border between Syria and Israel extends approximately 43 miles. It extends from a point on the Lebanese-Syrian border east to the vicinity of Baniyas, south to Lake Tiberias, then south along the eastern shore of the lake to the Syrian-Jordanian border. During the period January 1965 to February 1967, a total of 28 sabotage and terrorist acts occurred along this border. In addition, there were numerous shellings of villages from the high ground overlooking the area southeast of Lake Tiberias. Casualties were seven killed and 18 wounded. Control of the dominant terrain affords Syria a military route of approach into northern Israel; however, the greatest threat in this sector is from terrorism and sabotage.

b. Requirement. Israel must hold the commanding terrain east of the boundary of 4 June 1967 which overlooks the Galilee area. To provide a defense in-depth, lsrael would need a strip about 15 miles wide extending from the border of Lebanon to the border of Jordan. This line would provide protection for the Israeli villages on the east bank of Lake Tiberias but would make defending forces east of the lake vulnerable to a severing thrust from Jordan to the southern tip of the lake. The Israelis would probably decide to accept this risk. As a side effect, this line would give the Israelis control of approximately 25 miles of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline.

3. The Jerusalem-Latrun Area
a. Threat. These areas have been the scene of intermittent trouble over the years as both Jordanians and Israelis have been illegally cultivating lands in the areas between the lines. Only one serious incident occurred in this area during the period January 1965 to February 1967.

b. Requirement. To defend the Jerusalem area would require that the boundary of Israel be positioned to the east of the city to provide for the organization of an adequate defensive position. On the other hand, if Jerusalem were to be internationalized under the United Nations, a boundary established west of the city could be defended in accordance with the concept in paragraph 1, above.

4. The Gaza Strip
a. Threat. During the period 1949-1956, prior to the Suez war, numerous infiltrations and terrorist raids were mounted by Egypt from the Gaza Strip. However, with the establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force in 1957, based in the Gaza Strip and along the Sinai border, the situation has been quiet. Only three events of sabotage occurred in this area during the period January 1965 to February 1967. The Strip, under Egyptian control, provides a salient into Israel a little less than 30 miles long and from four to eight miles wide. It has served as a training area for the Palestine Liberation Army and, despite the few incidents arising in this area of late, it is significant to note that one of the first actions by the Israelis in the recent conflict was to seal off the area from the Sinai.

b. Requirement. Occupation of the Strip by Israel would reduce the hostile border by a factor of five and eliminate a source for raids and training of the Palestine Liberation Army.

5. The Negev-Sinai Border
a. Threat.
This area has not presented any border problems since establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force in 1957. The demilitarized zone around Al Awja, containing the main north-south, east-west road junction in eastern Sinai and the major water source in the area, is the principal feature providing military advantage.

b. Requirement. Except for an adjustment of a portion of the boundary tied to the defense of Eilat, discussed below, and retention of the demilitarized zone around Al Awja, no need is seen for Israeli retention of occupied territory in the Sinai.

6. The Negev-Jordan-Aqaba-Strait of Tiran Area

a. Threat. There were only five incidents of sabotage in this area during the period January 1965 to February 1967. Israel’s chief concern in this area is free access through the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba and protection of Eilat, Israel’s chief oil port and trade link with the West African countries. Eilat, being at the apex of Israel’s southern tip, is vulnerable to interdiction from Egyptian territory.

b. Requirement. To provide Israel with sufficient depth to protect the port, the boundary should be established approximately 20 miles to the west along the Wadi el-Gerafi, south to its headwaters, then east to a point on the Gulf of Aqaba at approximately 39°20′ north latitude. In the event an international guarantee for free passage of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba is not provided, Israel would feel compelled to occupy key terrain in order to control the entrance to the Strait.

7. See map on following page.

The Khartoum Resolutions

September 1, 1967 Eight Arab heads of state attended an Arab summit conference in Khartoum during August 29 – September 1, 1967. It formulated the Arab consensus that underlay the policies of most Arab states participating in the conflict until the early 1970’s. The resolution adopted called for the continued struggle against Israel, the creation of a fund to assist the economics of Egypt and Jordan, the lifting of an Arab oil boycott against the West and a new agreement to end the war in Yemen. By adopting the dictum of no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel, the Arab states appeared to have slammed the door on any progress towards peace.


  1. The conference has affirmed the unity of Arab ranks, the unity of joint action and the need for coordination and for the elimination of all differences. The Kings, Presidents and representatives of the other Arab Heads of State at the conference have affirmed their countries’ stand by and implementation of the Arab Solidarity Charter which was signed at the third Arab summit conference in Casablanca.
  2. The conference has agreed on the need to consolidate all efforts to eliminate the effects of the aggression on the basis that the occupied lands are Arab lands and that the burden of regaining these lands falls on all the Arab States.
  3. The Arab Heads of State have agreed to unite their political efforts at the international and diplomatic level to eliminate the effects of the aggression and to ensure the withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces from the Arab lands which have been occupied since the aggression of June 5. This will be done within the framework of the main principles by which the Arab States abide, namely, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country.
  4. The conference of Arab Ministers of Finance, Economy and Oil recommended that suspension of oil pumping be used as a weapon in the battle. However, after thoroughly studying the matter, the summit conference has come to the conclusion that the oil pumping can itself be used as a positive weapon, since oil is an Arab resource which can be used to strengthen the economy of the Arab States directly affected by the aggression, so that these States will be able to stand firm in the battle. The conference has, therefore, decided to resume the pumping of oil, since oil is a positive Arab resource that can be used in the service of Arab goals. It can contribute to the efforts to enable those Arab States which were exposed to the aggression and thereby lost economic resources to stand firm and eliminate the effects of the aggression. The oil-producing States have, in fact, participated in the efforts to enable the States affected by the aggression to stand firm in the face of any economic pressure.
  5. The participants in the conference have approved the plan proposed by Kuwait to set up an Arab Economic and Social Development Fund on the basis of the recommendation of the Baghdad conference of Arab Ministers of Finance, Economy and Oil.
  6. The participants have agreed on the need to adopt the necessary measures to strengthen military preparation to face all eventualities.
  7. The conference has decided to expedite the elimination of foreign bases in the Arab States.