On the other hand, Israel, Jordan, and the United States were allied in their support of the Israeli state and Israels land acquisitions during the Six-Day War. Eventually, the Sudan dropped out of the proposal, but, “By the end of 1971 the two leaders had taken soundings in Moscow, had appointed Egypts war minister, General Muhammad Sadiq, supreme commander of both armies, and had reached agreement on broad strategy” (Rabil 22). They continued to gain support from the Soviet Union, knowing they needed support of a superpower to offset the military might Israel wielded in the area.
After the war, “Six Arab states, including Egypt, broke off diplomatic relations with Washington, and were subsequently drawn closer to the Soviet Union.28 Additionally, the 1967 war created another 200,000 Palestinian Arab refugees, and more than one million Arabs from this point on lived within Israeli borders” (Mork 21). This really changed the face of diplomacy in the area, and began to alter worldwide political and diplomatic relationships, as well. It is important to remember that the Cold War was in full swing at this time, and the battle lines in the Middle East were continuing to change. Writer Mork continues, “By 1967, the Soviet
Union held considerable influence in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. As opposed to earlier, the Arab-Israeli conflict had become intertwined with the East-West conflict” (Mork 22). Earlier, both the superpowers remained largely absent from the conflict, leaving it to the Arabs and Israelis to sort out their problems, but that changed after the Six-Day War.
The United States became heavily involved in the negotiations after the Six-Day War for a number of reasons. They openly supported Israel and the creation of the Israeli state. They did not support the fact that Israel had acquired disputed territories during the war, but they did support negotiation that would lead to the return of the territories in return for some Arab concessions toward Israel, something that had not occurred during previous conflicts. The U.S. hoped that Israel could trade the territories astutely and use them to create a long lasting peace in the region, but obviously, that has not occurred.
In December 1969, U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers developed the Rogers Plan, another attempt at Middle Eastern diplomacy. His plan was quite “middle of the road,” hoping to create a balance between Arab needs and the Israeli desire for formal negotiations, rather than simply approving the UN resolution. The Rogers Plan would also essentially return the borders to their pre-1967 status, before the Six-Day War and Israeli occupation. That ensured that Israel would not approve of the plan almost instantly. The plan also called for a cease-fire, and in mid-1970, Egypt announced it was ready to agree to the Rogers Plan.
These negations were held through Gunnar Jarring, and after learning Egypt would support the plan, Israel said they would too, but they would not return to the pre-1967 boundaries the plan called for. The plan for peace was short lived, however. Historian Cossali continues, “However, after a single meeting with Dr. Jarring in New York, the Israeli representative was recalled and the Israeli Government protested that the cease-fire had been violated by the movement of Soviet missiles behind the Egyptian lines” (Cossali 42). Talks broke down, and then, Palestine resistance efforts brought the process to a complete halt. Palestine guerillas were at work in Jordan, and when Jordan supported the Rogers Plan, they threatened civil war inside the country. In mid-September 1970, the Jordanian leader, King Hussein, created a military government in charge of exterminating the resistance. Within 10 days, Egypts President Nasser and other Arab governments mediated a truce between the guerillas and the government, bypassing a long and bloody civil war. However, the next day President Nasser suffered a heart attack, and he died a few days later.
The new President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, seemed eager for settlement, and for a time, it seemed Israel was, as well. However, when talks began again, both sides refused to back down on the border issues. Israel refused to give up any territory, and Egypt refused to accept this. They were losing revenue due to the Suez Canals closure and the loss of their oil fields to Israel, and so, the talks broke down again. Attempts (called a “partial resolution”) to get Israel to withdraw back from the Sinai, so the Canal could reopen, also failed.
Finally, the Rogers Plan was dropped altogether, and the situation showed no signs of rectifying itself. In December, the UN also reaffirmed its position and in another resolution, asked Israel to give up the occupied territories, but again it refused. This was an extremely important time in the negotiations, because for the first time, the United States did not support Israels position, and let them know it. When a vote was taken, only seven states including Israel had voted against the resolution, and the United States abstained, indicating its displeasure with Israels refusal to budge on the occupied territories. Later on, the European members of the UN created a resolution that strongly criticized Israel, and then voted on it. The United States again abstained, a clear message to Israel (Cossali 45). Still, the diplomacy continued, and Israel continued to defy growing public opinion against it, and for peace.
Another supreme blow to diplomacy in the impasse came at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich Germany. Palestinian terrorists captured 11 members of the Israeli Olympic Team and took them hostage in return for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. The West German police promised them safe passage, but opened fire on the group at the Munich Airport. All of the Israeli team members were killed, and all of the terrorists were killed or captured (Cossali 45). This event led to more sympathy for Israel around the world, and a quick Israeli retaliation on Lebanon, home to the terrorists. This led to another stalemate in the diplomatic efforts to create a lasting peace in the country.
By 1973, the Israelis had received even more military planes and equipment from the United States, and they knew their military position was far superior to the Arab nations surrounding them. They had no intention of giving up territory when they had the military advantage. Egypt and Jordan had weakened their position, and through intermediaries, they let Israel know they would be willing to negotiate with them. However, Israel was in no mood to negotiate, and their support had dwindled mainly to the United States. However, the United States was becoming increasingly dependent on Arabian oil to fuel its automobiles and industry, and so, the United States was attempting to negotiate with the Arabs for oil while supporting the Israelis, and something had to give.
Where did the Soviets fit into the peace picture? They supported UN Resolutions that would bring the conflict to an end, and they supported the Arabs over the Israelis. They also sent military equipment (notably Russian MIG fighters) to the Arab states so they could defend themselves from the Israeli U.S.-provided Phantoms. In addition, they attempted (along with several Arab nations) to draw up a UN Resolution that would allow withdrawal from the Occupied Territories even before a formal peace was announced, but the U.S. blocked that resolution in favor of Resolution 242, the resolution that finally passed in the UN. The Soviets were not as involved in the peace process as the Americans, but they were a key figure in many areas, and it was clear they had little support for Israel in their own political agenda. It must also be remembered that the Arabs who were so mightily defeated in the Six-Day War were outfitted primarily with Soviet weapons, and there were Soviet military advisors in at least some of the countries (such as Egypt), so the Arab defeat was also a Soviet defeat in many ways. Thus, the Soviets were ripe for a peace process that supported their allies in the area, and they urged the resolution of diplomacy that would help their allies, just as the United States wanted agreements that would support the Israelis and create a lasting peace and acceptance of them throughout the region.
As this diplomatic process indicates, tempers run high in the Middle East, and the participants in the Arab-Israeli Conflict are both quite sure of their position and their needs. There are still tensions in the area, Israel has not conceded all the territory it took in the Six-Day War, although it has conceded the Gaza Strip, the Sinai, and there have been peace agreements with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.
Israel itself was distrustful of many of the diplomatic techniques and resolutions used in an attempt to maintain peace in the region. They were especially suspicious of the UN, and its ability to remain impartial.