A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 30,1967: King Hussein Goes to Cairo

As the tensions over the closing of the Strait of Tiran intensified at the end of May 1967, and international diplomacy was struggling to coax the sides back from the brink, suddenly on May 30, with no previous announcement, King Hussein of Jordan arrived at Al-Maza airfield in Cairo and was received by Gamal ‘Abdel Nasser. The two then signed a five year military pact, and Egyptian Chief of Staff Mohamed Fawzy was named commander of a Joint Arab Command.

The surprise move alarmed Israel, which had always maintained better relations with Jordan than with other Arab states. Syria was also caught by surprise.

Events were moving faster than the diplomats could control. Two days later, on June 1, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who had also held the Defense portfolio, resigned the Defense Ministry and named Moshe Dayan, military hero of the Sinai campaign of 1956, to the job. Dayan, who had joined David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres in political exile in the Rafi Party, was in fact visiting South Viet Nam with the US Marines when called home. At the same time Rafi and Menahem Begin's Gahal bloc (ancestor of Likud) agreed to join a National Unity Government under Eshkol. The war clouds were gathering faster than the efforts for peace could mobilize.

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