On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Israelis: The Yom Kippur War (Jewish Day of Atonement Arabs: The Ramadan War: war broke out in the midst of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Background After the 1967 Six Day War the UN sent a Swedish Mediator, Gunnar Jarring on a mission to broker a lasting peace. The Israelis would only negotiate directly with the Arabs, the Arabs indirectly and only after the withdraw of Israel from all occupied territories. The mission stalled. Nixon became President in 1969 and tried to restore US relations with Egypt and Syria while keeping Israel at a military advantage. Offset Russian influence Prevent another conflict
The Palestinians were frozen out by Resolution 242. Resolution 242 was the 1967 UN solution to the 6-Day War, which called for ‘the withdrawal of Israeli Armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’ and ‘the right for all countries in the Middle East to ‘live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries. The Israelis choose to state that the resolution did not specify withdrawal from all of the territories and used the second part as due recognition of their right to exist. There was no mechanism to enforce 242 anyway. The Palestinians: No movement either militarily or politically They had diminished to near invisible prospects of self determination and statehood PLO groups did everything possible to grab world attention through terrorism and plane hijacking
Soviet Union stepped up its arms supplies to Egypt and Syria In 1969 the Egyptians Launched commando raids into Israel and shelled positions across the Suez Canal Sank an Israeli destroyer The Israelis retaliated: With raids deep into Egyptian territory Built a length of fortifications, the Ben-Lev line, along the Canal.
The War of Attrition 1969 Nasser abandoned the June 1967 cease-fire and bombarded the Israeli fortifications. Hope to inflict as many Israeli casualties as possible to force the Israeli withdrawal of the Sinai. Costly to both sides with more casualties than 6-Day War. The Israelis committed its air power to pound Egyptian placements on the Canal and deep into their territory. Nasser appealed directly to Moscow for advanced planes, but fearing an escalation and an increase US involvement the Soviets were only prepared to send in their own planes to patrol the Suez Area. Nasser
The USSR Response Supplied surface to air missiles Sent in advisers and technicians to supervise Egypt’s armed forces Built up a considerable naval fleet and infrastructure in the Mediterranean The US Response Attempted to improve relations with Arab world Continued to support Israel militarily and diplomatically Announced the Rogers Plan in 1970 which proposed an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories under 90 day cease fire to which, after some considerable stalling from Nasser, both sides agreed. The Jarring Mission was reactivated.
New Arab Leaders Between August and December 1970 both Egypt and Israel violated aspects of the cease- fire and nothing came of the Jarring Mission. Anwar Sadat succeeded Nasser in September 1970 and he and the new Syrian king Hafez al- Assad were much more pragmatic leaders than their predecessors, less concerned about Arab nationalism. Sadat
The Israelis Golda Meir PM in March 1969 Distrusted the Arabs Determined to keep Israeli military superiority Secure peace on its terms: Full Arab recognition of Israel’s right to exist, direct peace negotiations, retention of territory deemed necessary for its survival Under Defence Minister Moshe Dayan, Israel began to build settlements in strategic places in the Jordan Valley, the Golan Height, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula.
Israeli opinion divided Many Israeli leaders remained flexible and open to discussion and compromise as long as the Arabs came directly to the negotiating table Some were in favour of the full takeover and settlement of the West Bank on religious/historical grounds Dayan and his supporters wanted to integrate the Occupied Territories for security reasons Some were in favour of partial return of the conquered lands will others wanted it all returned – Gaza, West Bank and Sinai. Golda Meir simply procrastinated and in the absence of any peace negotiations, the Israeli occupation continued.
DÉTENTE AND THE ROLE OF THE SUPERPOWERS Between 1968 and 1973 an ‘unofficial’ war was going on between Egypt and Israel. However, concurrently the Palestinians were actively engaged in Guerrilla warfare Airplane hijacking Terrorist attacks – the massacre of tourists at Lod Airport and the Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli Athletes.
In May 1972, Nixon visited Brezhnev in Moscow. Neither superpower wanted to be dragged into a war in the Middle East. There was cooperation to dampen the fires in the region. Soviets stopped sending advanced offensive weapons to Egypt The Israelis were happy with the status quo: happy to have US support, no war was a plus and no peace could be lived with. The Arabs were far from happy – no war and no peace was in tolerable.