This essay will discuss how three factors shattered this seemingly permanent settlement. First, the military balance following the Six-Day War ended the role of Syria and Egypt as bases for attacks on Israel and, eventually, the intention that these states would deliver a victory over Israel for the Palestinians. Second, Israel’s total victory over Arab armies empowered the Palestinians to take direct command of their struggle to eradicate Israel, and to use Lebanon, which already housed 110,000 Palestinian refugees from the Galilee, as a base for direct attack of Israeli territory. Third, the Palestinians’ use of Lebanese territory to attack Israel, combined with Israel’s retaliation, strained Lebanon’s already fragile political institutions to the point of collapse and postponed any hope of a peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon for years.
In the four decades between the advent of the Six-Day War in 1967 and 2003, there have been few places which have witnessed more violence in the Arab-Israeli conflict than Lebanon and the lands adjacent to its border with Israel. Throughout that period, the peoples of these areas suffered invasion, shelling, attacks, and occupation. By contrast, Israel’s borders with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria have remained largely quiet, particularly since the end of the October 1973 war.
In this context it is easy to forget that Israel’s border with Lebanon was the quietest in the region in the years between 1949 and 1967, and that Lebanon, along with Jordan, was seen as one of the Arab states most “likely” to reach a permanent agreement with Israel. The Israeli-Lebanese border witnessed less violence than marked Israel’s borders with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in the 1950s and 1960s. Of the armistice agreements that Israel reached with its four neighbors in 1949, the only agreement fully operative by the time the Six-Day War broke out was with Lebanon.  From the perspective of the Maronite-dominated and Western-leaning government of Lebanon, it was as though the partition of Palestine in 1947 and the Arab-Israeli war of 1948-1949 had permanently settled the Palestinian question.
COMPLEMENTARY STATES AND A “MODEL” ARMISTICE
A chief factor contributing to the stability of Lebanese-Israeli relations in the two decades before the Six-Day War was the complementary nature of the two nations. Both Israel and Lebanon controlled tiny national territories bordering the Mediterranean, with very small national populations and limited natural resources. Both states bordered much larger states and maintained close ties with the West. Although the government of Lebanon attempted to be neutral in international affairs, Beirut often shared Jerusalem’s broad support of U.S. goals in the Cold War and was less militant than either Syria or Egypt in its reaction to crises in Arab relations with the West. Beirut’s policies were sufficiently pro-Western that Washington readily dispatched troops there when the Lebanese government requested assistance to restore order in 1958.
The states were also very different from one another. While the Israelis adhered to a dynamic and ethnically exclusive nationalism, the Lebanese built a pluralistic society in which a power-sharing agreement, the 1943 National Pact, protected the rights of various communities. Israelis also sought strong, efficient state institutions which could maintain military forces second to none in the region. National conscription was required of all Jewish Israeli citizens. By contrast, the Lebanese preferred a weak army and state and saw no need for a draft.
These differences had three important consequences. First, Lebanon was able to absorb 110,000 Palestinian refugees during and after the 1948 war. Second, Lebanon’s paltry military meant that it was never a military or a political threat to Israel and that Beirut could opt out of the Arab military struggle against Israel even if it might serve as a headquarters for Palestinian organizations or as a supply route to other states that housed Palestinian forces. Importantly, the other Arab states respected Lebanese neutrality and they only authorized Jordan, Syria, and Egypt to serve as bases for Palestinian guerilla attacks against Israel.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Israel and Lebanon upheld the armistice that they signed in 1949 with few problems. (By contrast, Israel suspended its Mixed Armistice Commission with Egypt in 1956, after the occurrence of many cross-border attacks.) The Israeli military withdrew from positions in southern Lebanon, and Beirut and Jerusalem agreed the armistice line would follow the international boundary of 1920 between Lebanon and Palestine. Subsequently the border between the two nations was virtually sealed.
WANDERING COWS AND A FRAGILE PEACE
In 1961, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion told U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson, “Lebanon is ready to live in peace with Israel now.” Perhaps even more indicative of the Israeli perspective on the Israeli-Lebanese border, and relations with Lebanon in general, were the views of Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir. She told President John Kennedy in a January 1963 meeting:
Israel has never had real trouble with Lebanon. Cows occasionally wander over the border from Lebanon and are sent back, Meir said. Girls in the Israeli army may get lost and wander across the Lebanese border, but they are very politely returned. None of the incidents are serious.
Was this serene, bucolic image of peaceful relations shared by the Lebanese government officials? The answer is both yes and no. Lebanese officials acknowledged their weak position in regional politics. Their nation’s foreign policy–while officially neutral–was pro-Western, and, in the words of Lebanese Foreign Minister Hakim, “closest of all Arab states to U.S. policies and ideals.” Any suggestion otherwise, Lebanese President Chehab told a U.S. official in 1962, was only “protocolaire.” These twin factors governing Lebanon’s foreign policy ensured that Lebanon favored a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute which did not assume Israel’s destruction. However, Lebanon “could not take any lead but would go along with anything acceptable to other Arab countries.” Lebanese delegates to the MAC “perpetuated the sense that there was no real fight between Israel and Lebanon; [they] encouraged the Israelis in the oft-repeated maxim that while Lebanon could not be the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, it would surely be the second.”
Lebanese officials also had strong domestic reasons to seek a solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute in the 1960s. They were acutely aware of the ability of other governments to influence Lebanese politics. Moreover, the events of 1958 and the attempted coup of 1962 reinforced their fear of Lebanese nationals committed to involving Lebanon deeply in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  While many of the Palestinian refugees had found new lives in Lebanon, the fact that most of them were Muslim threatened the nation’s communal balance. In addition, the 1949 Armistice cut off southern Lebanon from its traditional trading partners in Palestine. Consequently, many of southern Lebanon’s Shia immigrated to Lebanese cities in search of better livelihoods. All of these problems were compounded by the uneven growth of Lebanon’s economy (in favor of tertiary trade and cities) and the Lebanese government’s failure to implement meaningful social and economic reforms.
These conditions led to “a loss in confidence” in the country’s central government and contributed to the growth of organizations critical of Lebanon’s pro-Western orientation and the political arrangements enshrined in the 1943 National Pact. By April 1967, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Dwight Porter, bitterly complained to Lebanese President Charles Helou about the growing anti-American tone of the Lebanese press and society. In early June of that year, U.S. officials noted that a number of leading moderate Lebanese believed that U.S. policies were biased and supported “a minority [Jews] for political purposes.” At the same time, Porter and other senior U.S. officials repeatedly stressed to the Lebanese government that no solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute proposed by the United States would “endanger” Lebanon’s internal balance.
ENTERING THE 1967 WAR THROUGH THE BACKDOOR
Still, Lebanese, U.S., and Israeli officials failed to recognize the fundamental danger to the peace on the Lebanese-Israeli border and to the future of any durable peace between Israel and Lebanon, and ultimately between Arabs and Israel in general: Lebanon’s weak military. In the years before the 1967 war the weak military was not a problem. There were few Palestinian guerrillas for the Lebanese army to control, and violations of the sealed border were very rare.
Indeed, Lebanon’s weak army turned out to be a national asset when war finally arrived in June 1967, for two reasons. First, Israel was “content to leave Lebanon alone,” as long as Beirut did not provoke anything. Second, Lebanon’s weak military helped the government of Lebanon to justify the nation’s failure to participate in the war despite the fact that Lebanese Muslims overwhelmingly supported attacking Israel.
In 1967, popular support for going to war with Israel was so strong that the United States, evacuated American citizens, the CIA warned of attacks on the American University in Beirut, reports surfaced of a planned pogrom against Jews in Beirut, and the Lebanese government seriously contemplated either a limited unilateral Lebanese military action against Israel, or a joint military operation with Syria. Reportedly those plans were never carried out because of the firm opposition of General Emile Bustani, commander of the Lebanese Army, who saw a Lebanese attack on Israel in June 1967 as suicidal. 
Because the Lebanese army failed to attack Israel, Lebanon emerged from the war as the only Arab state in the Levant that did not lose prestige and territory to successful Israeli attacks. U.S. officials speculated as early as mid-June 1967 that a Lebanese-Israeli settlement was possible, and they worked to restore U.S. financial and military assistance to Lebanon quickly. McGeorge Bundy, President Johnson’s special assistant for national security affairs, noted in a memorandum that there was real value in “cautious military hand-holding with really decent Arabs (like the strong Lebanese general [Bustani] who seems to have kept the Lebanon out of the war).”
For its part, the Lebanese government was satisfied that the war weakened the Arab states most hostile to Israel (Egypt and Syria), and therefore promised to relieve any pressure for future attacks on Israel. Despite reports from senior government officials and Arab diplomats in Beirut of continued Lebanese anger at American policy toward Israel, the Lebanese government permitted U.S. tourists to return to Lebanon well before Washington lifted the travel ban to the country, which had been put in place during the Six-Day War. Furthermore, the new Arab-Israeli borders appeared, “easier to defend and patrol than before,” and made the possibility of guerilla infiltrations into Israel seem significantly less likely. This issue was a key consideration given that Israel withdrew from the Military Armistice Commission following the war.
However, the new regional dynamic that emerged immediately after the war was far more dangerous to Lebanon and its relationship to Israel than it initially appeared. Because the Palestinians could no longer depend on the armies of other Arab states to defeat Israel, they turned to a logical alternative: guerilla warfare. Under the leadership of Yasir Arafat’s newly activated Fatah organization, the Palestinians launched attacks from Jordan and Lebanon. By December 1968, there were daily clashes between Palestinians based in Lebanon and Jordan, and the Israeli army.
These events came to a head for Lebanon on December 26, 1968, when two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), based in Beirut, Lebanon, attacked an Israeli El Al aircraft in Athens, Greece. Israel held Lebanon responsible for the attacks, justifying its beliefs to U.S. officials by noting that “no government harboring [PFLP] can be immune from responsibility for actions of these [types of] organizations.” On December 28, 1968, 45 Israeli commandos landed at BeirutInternationalAirport and destroyed 13 Lebanese owned aircraft. Despite vigorous protests by the United States and Lebanon against the raid on the airport, Israeli raids continued against Lebanon and Jordan. As a Lebanese historian put it, Lebanon had now actively entered the conflict “but through the backdoor.”
INTO THE ABYSS
Israel’s policy goal was simple: to force Beirut and Amman to rein in the Palestinian forces, launching attacks on Israel from their territories. In the case of Jordan, the policy worked. In the case of Lebanon, Israeli policy backfired. Horrified by the attack on the airport and the frequent Palestinian-Israeli clashes, the Lebanese Army launched a series of attacks on Palestinian forces in Lebanon starting in 1969. The attacks failed to eliminate them but instead led to a dangerous split in Lebanon’s government. President Charles Helou felt that the attacks were necessary to protect Lebanon’s sovereignty. In contrast, Prime Minister Rashid Karame argued that the nation’s sovereignty was inextricably linked to the Palestinians’ freedom of action in Lebanon. Karame’s position also reflected the pressure that Lebanese Muslim politicians faced after Kamal Jumblatt decided to link the Palestinian cause in 1968 with his own popular, leftist Lebanese reform program. In addition, the army’s attacks and failure to eliminate the Palestinian forces let Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser intervene, leading to the Cairo Accord which, for the first time, gave international Arab sanction to the Palestinians’ use of Lebanon as a base to attack Israel.
While the accord gave the Lebanese military and civilian authorities the right to exercise full control in any part of the country, the Palestinians broadly interpreted it as a carte blanche to launch more attacks on Israel. When the army attempted to reassert control over the Palestinian refugee camps on the edges of Beirut in May 1973, the Palestinians and many Muslim and leftist Lebanese responded by staging popular uprisings in the cities of Sidon and Tripoli, as well as the Muslim areas of Beirut. The United States would not intervene in Lebanon’s crisis in the mid 1970s, as it had done in the crisis of 1958. Washington and Moscow both stepped back and allowed Lebanese and other regional actors, few of whom were interested in a durable peace, to take the initiative.
There is little question that Israel’s relationship with Lebanon was substantially better in the years leading up to the 1967 Six-Day War than it would be in the years that followed. The “sealed” Israeli-Lebanese border and the commitment of other Arab states to Palestinian affairs allowed Lebanon to more or less ignore the Arab-Israeli dispute and the existence of Israel. Israel could also ignore Lebanon since few Palestinian attacks originated there, and Lebanon maintained paltry military forces. However, the new regional political dynamic caused by the Six-Day War in 1967 changed the bilateral relationship by forcing both sides to confront the other’s existence directly.
For the Lebanese, this change would mean that they would play a central role in the Arab-Israeli conflict and would have to revise the assumptions that had governed their political life since 1943. Here, the military weakness of Lebanon is critical: had the Lebanese been able to crush the Palestinians in much the same way that the Jordanians had done, Lebanese society might have had the time to resurrect the past relationship with Israel and possibly stave off, or at least mitigate, the Lebanese Civil War. For the Israelis, dealing directly with Lebanon forced them to devote ever greater military resources to protecting the nation’s northern border; in addition, they had to endure ever higher civilian and military casualties in the Galilee and to abandon any hope of reaching a long-term agreement with Lebanon.
I thank Dr. Rashid Khalidi and Mr. David Makovsky for commenting on this paper in January, 2004. Any mistakes that I have made in this text are entirely my own.
For more on this issue, see Irene Gendzier, “”The Declassified Lebanon, 1948-1958,”” in Halim Barakat (ed.), Toward A Viable Lebanon, (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies), p. 198.
Elizabeth Picard, Lebanon: A Shattered Country, Myths and Realities of the Wars in Lebanon. Revised Edition (New York: Heims and Myers Publishers, 2002), p. 79. For more on Lebanese-Israeli relations before 1948, see Laura Eisenberg, My Enemy’s Enemy: Lebanon in the Early Zionist Imagination, 1900-1948 (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1994) and Walid Phares, Lebanese Christian Nationalism: The Rise and Fall of an Ethnic Resistance (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995).
Samir Khalaf, Civil and Uncivil Violence in Lebanon: A History of Internationalization of Communal Conflict (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), pp. 216-17. Arab League Conferences held in Cairo in January, 1964 and in Khartoum in August, 1967 authorized Palestinian guerillas to launch attacks into Israel only from Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Lebanon was not mentioned either time.
Major William D. Claytor, United Nations Truce Supervision Organization: History and U.S. Marine Involvement; http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1990/CWD.htm (Accessed on December 27, 2003). Israel denounced its Armistice with Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria after the Six-Day War of June 1967.
The agreement required both sides to agree that “”No aggressive action by the armed forces – land, sea or air – of either party shall be undertaken, planned, or threatened against the people or the armed forces of the other; it being understood that the use of the term ‘planned’ in this context has no bearing on normal staff planning as generally practiced in military organizations.”” Israel Foreign Ministry, “The Armistice Agreements: Volumes 1-2: 1947-1974: III.” http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH018r0 (Accessed on December 24, 2003).
Telegram from the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State, No. 60, New York, June 2, 1961, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, 17: Near East, 1961-1962, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xvii/17705.htm (Accessed on December 23, 2003).
Memorandum of Conversation, Foreign Relations of the United States, No. 121, Palm Beach, Florida, December 27, 1962, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, 18: Near East, 1962-1963, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xviii/26200.htm (Accessed on December 23, 2003).
Telegram from the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon, Washington, No. 379, January 13, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 18: Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-67, http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/vol_xviii/zl.html (Accessed on December 24, 2003).
Chehab made this comment to the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Armin Meyer in 1962. Protocolaire translates to “protocol; formulary; (State) etiquette.” Cassell’s French-English; English-French Dictionary, 20th ed., s.v. “protocolaire.” Meyer further notes: “When I mentioned Karame had stressed at outset of our talk yesterday that Lebanon was a non-aligned, Chehab laughingly declared Karame merely being ‘protocolaire.’ He repeatedly emphasized Lebanon’s pro-West orientation despite [the] fact that for tactical political purposes GOL professes neutrality.” While responding to this paper, Professor Rashid Khalidi questioned the notion that we could talk of a unified Lebanese government in the same way that we talk about unified American, Egyptian, or Chinese governments. While Professor’s Khalidi’s vast knowledge on contemporary Middle East affairs is above doubt, this conversation suggests that he might want to revisit his view on this issue, at least in regards to Lebanon’s government in the 1960s. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State, No. 165, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, 17: Near East, 1961-1962, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xvii/17710.htm (Accessed on December 13, 2000); U.S. Chiefs of Mission to Lebanon, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Chiefs of Mission, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/po/com/10904.htm, (Accessed on March 14, 2004).
Telegram from the Embassy in Syria to the Department of State, No.258, Damascus, Syria, April 27, 1962, U.S Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, 17: Near East, 1961-1962, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xvii/17716.htm (Accessed on December 23, 2003).
Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State, No. 268, Beirut, Lebanon, May 8, 1962, Ibid. It should be noted that U.S. officials were well aware of this fact. A March 1968 Telegram from the U.S. Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State states “Over the years we have also been very much aware of another lesson–that it is impossible for a leader of one of the smaller Arab states, such as Lebanon or Jordan, to make a separate peace with Israel and survive.” Telegraph from the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, No. 109, Amman, Jordan, March 12, 1968, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 20: Arab-Israeli Dispute 1967-1968,http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xx/2665.htm (Accessed on December 24, 2003).
Laura Eisenberg, “Israel’s South Lebanon Imbroglio,” Middle East Quarterly Vol. 4, No. 2 (June 1997): pp. 60-79, http://www.meforum.org/article/352 (Accessed on December 23, 2003). Eisenberg’s article mainly deals with post 1968 Lebanese-Isareli relations and does not touch on the 1967 Six-Day War directly. Lebanon’s desire to have good relations with Israel at all costs was illustrated by a CIA research reported cited by Gendzier, “Largely as a result of this moderating influence, Lebanon’s contribution to the fight against Israel has become modest. Even though Israeli forces now occupy certain areas in southern Lebanon, the Lebanese government, with an eye to its former relations with Israel, has refrained from complaining at the UN.” Gendzier, “The Declassified Lebanon”, p. 194.
For more on the 1962 Coup and the Lebanese government’s paranoid reaction to it, see Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State,Beirut, Lebanon, No. 158, January 8, 1962, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, 17: Near East, 1961-1962, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xvii/17710.htm (Accessed on December 24, 2003); Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon, No. 160, Washington, January 11, 1962, Ibid; Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State, No. 162, Beirut, Lebanon, January 13, 1962, Ibid; Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State, No. 165, Beirut, Lebanon, January 16, 1962, Ibid; and Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon, No. 180, Washington, January 30, 1962, U.S Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, 17: Near East, 1961-1962, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xvii/17711.htm (Accessed on December 26, 2003).
For more on this phenomenon, see Roger Owen,”The Economic History of Lebanon, 1943-1974: Its Salient Features,” in Halim Barakat (ed.) Toward a Viable Lebanon, (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press/Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, 1988): pp. 27-41. Owen notes, for instance, that the tertiary trade grew from less than two thirds of Lebanon’s Gross National Product [GNP] to more than three quarters of GNP. At the same time, GNP attributable to the agricultural sector declined by 50% during the same time period (pp. 30-4). Please also see Kamal Salibi, A House of Many Mansions: a History of Lebanon Reconsidered. (London: I.B. Tauris, 1988), pp. 190-91 and Frederic C. Hof, Galilee Divided: The Israel-Lebanon Frontier, 1916-1984 (London: Westview Press, 1985), pp. 64-5.
Telegram from the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State, No. 408, Beirut, Lebanon, April 20, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 18: Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-67, http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/vol_xviii/zo.html (Accessed on December 23, 2003).
Memorandum for the Record, No. 72, Washington, May 26, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19: Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www/state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28054.htm (Accessed on March 10, 2004). Similar attitudes were voiced by moderate Saudi Arabians, Iraqis, and Kuwaitis at the time.
Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts, No. 34. Washington, April 15, 1961, U.S. Department of State,Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, 17: Near East, 1961-1962, http://www/state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xviii/26162.htm (Accessed on December 24, 2003). U.S. officials also recognized in private, that a crisis in the Middle East would weaken Lebanon’s government, which they characterized as one of the few Middle Eastern governments that wanted peace “”very badly.”” Briefing Notes for Director of Central Intelligence Helms for Use at a White House Meeting, No. 45, Washington, May 23, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19:Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28053.htm (Accessed on March 10, 2004); Memorandum for the Record, No. 72, Washington, May 26, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19:Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28054.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004).
An intelligence memorandum prepared by the CIA in late May, 1967 observed that “Lebanon has no offensive capability.” Intelligence Memorandum Prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, No. 76, Washington, May 26, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19: Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28052.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004).
Department of State Telegram, No. 11321, Beirut, Lebanon, June 8, 1967 and Department of State Telegram, No. 3971, June 6, 1967. The Israeli government warned that it had no hostile intentions against Lebanon, but “if the pogrom occurs, it cannot stand idly by.”Ibid, p. 143.
Wade Goria, Sovereignty and Leadership in Lebanon 1943-1976 (London: Ithaca Press, 1985), p. 89. Hof questions the accuracy of this account due to the factual errors in the New York Times article in which this story first surfaced. Hof, Galilee Divided, p. 67. Recently declassified memoranda from Johnson Administration officials, however, suggest that Bustani might have kept Lebanon out of the war. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the NSC Special Committee (Bundy) to President Johnson, No. 311, Washington, June 21, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19:Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28060.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004).
Those losses in territorial, morale, and material terms were enormous. According to a Special National Intelligence Assessment prepared in early August 1967, the Israelis had destroyed as much as two thirds of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and held “several thousand commissioned and noncommissioned UAR officer prisoners, including nine generals.” Special National Intelligence Estimate, Intelligence Memorandum Prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, No. 414, Washington, August 10, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19: Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28066.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004).
Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Hoopes) to Secretary of Defense McNamara, No. 226, Washington, June 8, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19:Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28059.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004).
Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the NSC Special Committee (Bundy) to President Johnson, No. 311, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19:Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28060.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004).
Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon, No. 177, Washington, June 7, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19: Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28058.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004); Telegram From the President’s Special Consultant (Bundy) to President Johnson, No. 341, Washington, July 4, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19:Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28063.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004); Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State, No. 519, Beirut, Lebanon, November 10, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19:Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28070.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004).
Special National Intelligence Estimate, No. 414, Washington, August 10, 1967, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 19:Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1964-1967, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28066.htm (Accessed on March 13, 2004).
For more on Israel’s decision to withdraw from the MAC, see Hof, Galilee Divided, pp. 67-8.
Picard, Lebanon, pp. 81-3. It is important to remember that both Jordan and Lebanon had populations of Palestinians, relatively weak governments, and porous borders. In 1967 and 1968, commandos and weapons flowed freely into southern Lebanon and to Jordan. Funds too poured into the country from wealthy Palestinians and Arab Gulf states. It has been estimated that the Palestinian population of Lebanon rose to 240,000 in 1970 and by another 100,000 in 1971. However, these population numbers may have been exaggerated. I thank Professor Khalidi for bringing this issue to my attention.
Telegram from the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel, No. 369, Washington, December 29, 1968, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the Unite States, 1964-1968, 20: Arab-Israeli Dispute 1967-1968, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xx/2676.htm (Accessed on December 23, 2003).
Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon (New York: Antheneum, 1990), p. 75.
Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel, No. 369,Washington, December 29, 1968, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, 20: Arab-Israeli Dispute 1967-1968, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xx/2676.htm (Accessed on December 23, 2003); Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Lebanon, No. 370, Washington, December 29, 1968, Ibid; and Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State, No. 375, Beirut, Lebanon, December 31, 1968, Ibid.
Between June 1968 and June 1974 the Lebanese Army would count 30,000 Israeli violations of Lebanese national territory alone. The Lebanese army never looked more impotent. Picard, Lebanon, p. 83.
Farid el Khazen, The Breakdown of the State of Lebanon: 1967-1976 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), pp. 140-75.
In September, 1970 Palestinian guerillas came into open contact with the Jordanian government, and, in what would be later called “Black September,” the Jordanian army decimated the Palestinians. Nine months later the Jordanian government expelled all Palestinian political groups from Jordan and prohibited Palestinian guerillas from using Jordan as a base to attack Israel. The Jordanian army owed its allegiance and livelihood to the Jordanian king; if he were to fall, they would certainly fall with him. Equally important, U.S. and Israeli officials believed that the fall of the Jordanian monarchy would lead to a dangerous instability in the region and were prepared to intervene directly. Ibid, pp. 123-8
Picard, Lebanon, p. 85.
Goria, Sovereignty and Leadership in Lebanon 1943-1976, pp. 92-3.
Khazen, Breakdown, pp. 140-75.
It should be noted that the Israelis would attempt to reach a settlement after the 1982 Arab-Israeli war with little success. For more on this attempt, see Charles Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 4th ed. (Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001), pp. 372-91.
*Sean Foley is a Royden B. Davis Fellow at Georgetown and will be an Assistant Professor of History at DePauw University starting in August 2005.
An earlier version of this article was presented at the U.S. Department of State’s conference “The United States, the Middle East, and the 1967 Arab-Israeli War,” held on January 12 and 13, 2004.