Israel's 1967 Annexation of Arab Jerusalem: Walid Khalidi's Address to the UN General Assembly Special Emergency Session, 14 July 1967
Walid Khalidi
1967 War

In this forty-fifth anniversary year of the 1967 war and the annexation of Arab Jerusalem, JPS is publishing Walid Khalidi’s address to the UN General Assembly Special Emergency session of June–July 1967, together with a contextual introduction, as a reminder both of how radically the political landscape has changed these past decades and how much certain elements have remained the same.

Full text: 


In this forty-fifth anniversary year of the 1967 war and the annexation of Arab Jerusalem, JPS is publishing Walid Khalidi’s address to the UN General Assembly Special Emergency session of June–July 1967, together with a contextual introduction, as a reminder both of how radically the political landscape has changed these past decades and how much certain elements have remained the same.


On 28 June 1967, three weeks after East Jerusalem fell to Israeli forces on 7 June, Israel annexed the Jordanian municipality of Jerusalem—the 2.5 square miles containing the holy places of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—along with an additional 22.5 square miles of surrounding West Bank territory.

At the time of the annexation, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) had been meeting since 17 June, when its Fifth Emergency Special Session convened to deal with the situation in the Middle East created by Israel’s surprise attack on its Arab neighbors (5–10 June 1967). The UNGA session followed that of the UN Security Council (UNSC), held from 6 to 14 June 1967. There, Soviet and Arab/Muslim attempts to secure a full return to the 1948–49 armistice lines were successfully neutralized by the United States and its allies calling for a ceasefire in the strict military sense: [1] the ceasefire resolutions adopted (UNSC resolutions 233, 234, and 235 of 6, 7, and 9 June 1967, respectively) made no mention of withdrawal but merely called for the cessation of military activities.

The June 1967 UNSC resolutions essentially froze the situation on the ground at the final lines reached by the victorious Israeli forces, making these lines the starting point for any future negotiations. The extent to which the resolutions reflected Israeli aims is not coincidental. Abba Eban, Israel’s eloquent foreign minister, had been in Washington in the weeks preceding the war’s launch and was in close communication with members of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inner circle including U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Arthur Goldberg. Eban himself reports his insistence, in meetings with Goldberg, that the very concept of armistice be “eradicated,” that the ceasefire “be succeeded not by an armistice but by the higher vision of a permanent peace,” [2] and that Israel’s withdrawal from the ceasefire lines “could not take place without a peace negotiation in which boundaries would be fixed by agreement.” [3] Meanwhile the Israeli cabinet, meeting on 18–19 June to discuss “peace terms,” had reached consensus on (1) withdrawal from the current ceasefire lines solely on condition of peace agreements; (2) peace treaties with Egypt and Syria (but not Jordan)“on the basis [sic] of the international frontiers and Israel’s security needs”; (3) annexation of the Gaza Strip; and (4) the Jordan River as Israel’s “security border” (the latter implying ongoing control of the West Bank, including a “unified” Jerusalem). [4]

The polarization that had characterized the UNSC deliberations was also evident in the UNGA, albeit less pronounced. On 19 June, the first day of the debates, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin submitted his government’s draft resolution which, among other things, “vigorously condemn[ed]” Israel’s aggression and demanded  that Israel “immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its forces . . . to positions behind the armistice demarcation lines, as stipulated in the General Armistice Agreements.” [5]Ambassador Goldberg riposted the next day with a U.S. draft resolution whose mention of withdrawal was almost in passing: after calling for “scrupulous respect [of the ceasefire] by the parties concerned,” the U.S. draft declared as the UNGA’s objective “a stable and durable peace in the Middle East” to be achieved, inter alia, by “mutual recognition of the political independence and territorial integrity of all countries of the region, encompassing recognized boundaries and other arrangements, including disengagement and withdrawal of forces, that will give them security against terror, destruction and war.” [6]

Positions within the UNGA largely crystallized around two competing drafts: a Yugoslav text, introduced on 28 June 1967, supported by the Soviet bloc, the Arab/Muslim countries, and most non-aligned states; and a Latin American text, introduced on 30 June and supported by the United States and most Western countries.

The Yugoslav and Latin American drafts were less antithetical than their Soviet and U.S. counterparts that led off the debates. Both called for full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied. [7] But the South American draft called in addition for the “parties in conflict to end the state of belligerence, to endeavor to establish conditions of coexistence based on good-neighborliness and to have recourse in all cases to the procedures for peaceful settlement,” [8] without specifying sequence. The ambiguity about “whether withdrawal should precede a settlement or . . . be part of a settlement” [9] made the draft impossible for a large part of the UNGA to accept, since it essentially gave Israel a free hand to control the entire process and indeed to dictate the outcome. When the final vote was taken on 4 July, neither draft had the two-thirds majority required for adoption:[10] the Yugoslav draft received 53 votes in favor, 46 opposed, and 20 abstentions, while the Latin American draft garnered 57 votes in favor, 43 against, and 20 abstentions. [11]

            News of Israel’s formal annexation of East Jerusalem reached the UNGA in the late afternoon of 28 June. The news gave new urgency to the issue of Jerusalem, where Israel’s de facto steps toward “unification,” including the violation of the religious Status Quo by such actions as bulldozing the ancient Muslim Maghrebi quarter adjacent to the Western Wall and displacing its inhabitants, [12] had already caused considerable consternation in the UNGA.

Eban, who played a crucial role both in the UNSC and the UNGA, deployed his talents in an effort to stem the tide of general indignation that greeted the news. On 29 June, he laid out Israel’s position in a two-pronged approach. First, he argued (in the face of the facts) that Israel’s actions did not constitute annexation but were merely administrative, [13] concerned “exclusively with the urgent necessities of repairing the ravages and dislocations arising from the [city’s] division.” Second, he endeavored to win over the Western states by announcing discussions to internationalize oversight of the Holy Places, without giving specific details about Israel’s intentions in this regard.

Notwithstanding, hostility within the UNGA to the Israeli action was such that even U.S. Ambassador Goldberg made no attempt to defend it. On 4 July, Pakistan formally submitted a draft exclusively on the annexation that called on Israel to rescind all measures taken to change the status of Jerusalem and requested the Secretary-General to report back to the UNGA within a week on implementation. UNGA resolution 2253 was adopted by ninety-nine votes to zero, with twenty abstentions. [14]

The UNGA broke for recess after the vote. When it reconvened on 12 July, annexation was the near-exclusive focus of debate. The Secretary-General had in the meantime distributed to the Assembly the report required by UNGA resolution 2253. The report consisted of an explanatory letter from Israel (signed by Eban) which was manifestly intended to deflect the Assembly’s attention from its focus on the annexation itself to Israel’s ostensible concern for the “universal interest” of the Holy Places.  On 14 July, after three days of debates concerning the annexation and Israel’s defense of it both in the official letter and Eban’s speeches, the UNGA adopted a second Jerusalem resolution, UNGA resolution 2254 (ES-V) deploring Israel’s failure to rescind the measures and reiterating the call for it to do so. The resolution passed ninety-nine to zero, with eighteen abstentions. [15]

Walid Khalidi’s speech to the UNGA, at the final session just before the vote on the second Jerusalem resolution, was a rebuttal of the Israeli position on Jerusalem as laid out by Eban. Khalidi, then a professor at the American University of Beirut, attended the emergency session as advisor to the Iraqi delegation (Iraq was governed at the time by ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Arif’s pro-Nasserist regime). Particularly prescient is his observation of the Jerusalem annexation as Israel’s “strategic key” to the West Bank, the means by which to bisect the territory and isolate the north from the south. The speech, which can be found in the verbatim records of the General Assembly, 1550th Plenary Meeting of the Fifth Emergency Special Session, 14 July 1967, paragraphs 18–48, was later published as a pamphlet by the Jordanian Information Office under the title Jerusalem: The Arab Case. The text given here is that of the official UN verbatim record, with explanatory endnotes added.


*    *    *


On 4 July, the General Assembly adopted a resolution by ninety-nine votes in favour and none against, [i] expressing deep concern at the situation prevailing in Jerusalem as a result of the measures taken by Israel to change the status of the City. The Assembly considered these measures invalid. It called upon Israel to rescind them. It called upon Israel forthwith to desist from taking any action which would alter the status of Jerusalem. It requested the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly and the Security Council on the implementation of the resolution not later than one week from its adoption.

            The week has passed. And what has happened? Israel has persisted in strengthening its stranglehold on Jerusalem. It has thrown out its legalistic and pseudo-administrative hooks at Arab Jerusalem. The Mayor of Israeli Jerusalem tried to browbeat and bully the democratically elected Arab Municipal Council of Jordanian Jerusalem. When the bluff and threats failed, he marched out at the head of Israeli thugs armed with sub-machine guns and declared the Jordanian Municipal Council dismissed by diktat[ii]

            The annexation of Arab Jerusalem to Israel is being consolidated hourly by terror and blackmail. The resistance of the Arab population of Jerusalem is being undermined by a combination of psychological warfare, punitive economic legislation and a deliberate policy of starvation. In short, Israel has thrown the resolution of the General Assembly into the waste-paper basket. Mr. Eban [iii] has been as good as his word. He promised that Israel would refuse to accept the resolutions of the General Assembly. [iv] He has kept his promise.

            In his speech on Wednesday [12 July 1967], Mr. Eban spoke of motherhood. If the United Nations is anybody's mother, it is Israel's mother. Without the United Nations, Israel, of all the nations in the world, would not today be in existence.

            By ignoring the United Nations resolution on Jerusalem, Israel has virtually slapped the United Nations in the face. This, and nothing else, is the purport of the reply of the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations [v] and of the speech made by Mr. Eban on Wednesday. No glib talk or argumentation can hide this central fact or detract from it. No fabricated allegations and misrepresentations of historical fact can change it.

            The heart of the matter is that Israel refuses compliance with the General Assembly resolution and expresses its refusal with an arrogant contempt for the existence of this body and for the intelligence of its Members that has become the hallmark of Israel's attitude towards the United Nations.

            We have no intention to refute all the calculated falsifications of fact that Israel's representatives have uttered in their attempt to divert attention from this one focal point: Israel's defiant rejection of the wish of the international community. But we feel compelled, for the record, to draw attention to some of these falsifications.

            The most monstrous of these fabrications was the allegation that the Arab Governments, and Jordan in particular, had refused to safeguard free access to the Holy Places. [vi] The truth of the matter is that, in response to an appeal by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, the Arab Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria pledged themselves to the following declaration on 15 November, 1949. The preamble to the declaration states:


            “The undersigned representatives of Egypt, the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom, Lebanon and Syria to the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, duly authorized by their respective Governments, hereby make the following declaration on behalf of their Governments.”


The preamble further states that these Governments:


            Solemnly undertake by the provisions of the present declaration to guarantee the protection of, and free access to, the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites of Palestine, situated in the territory placed under their authority by the final settlement of the Palestine problem or, pending that settlement, in the territory at present occupied by them under armistice agreements.”


Article 4, the operative article, states:


            “The Governments of Egypt, the Hashemite Jordan Kingdom, Lebanon and Syria undertake to guarantee freedom of access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites situated in the territory placed under their authority by the final settlement of the Palestine problem or, pending that settlement, in the territory at present occupied by them under armistice agreements; and, pursuant to this undertaking, will guarantee rights of entry and of transit to ministers of religion, pilgrims and visitors without distinction as to nationality or faith, subject only to consideration of national security, all the above in conformity with the status quo prior to 14 May, 1948.” [vii]


            This was the solemn declaration which the Arab Governments, in response to the appeal of the Conciliation Commission, pledged themselves to abide by.

            What was the response of Israel to the same appeal made to it at the same time by the Conciliation Commission? Israel, to quote the record verbatim, was


            “of the opinion … that it would in the circumstances be in the interests of a constructive and final settlement if the matter of formulation were dealt with after more far-reaching consideration of these problems by the General Assembly.” [viii]


            In short, and cutting through the verbiage, it was Israel which, for reasons better known to itself, refused to make a declaration on the Holy Places similar to that made by the Arab Governments. Therefore, if access to the Holy Places has been denied in certain instances since 1949, Israel has to thank only its own intransigence for that.

            No less monstrous is the Israeli allegation that there has been Arab desecration of Hebrew Holy Places. It is a matter of historical record, known to all and sundry, that the religious status quo in Jerusalem was the object of the scrupulous, reverent and impartial guardianship of Islam for more than a millennium. Nor is there anything surprising in this. To Islam, Jews and Christians are People of the Book. Successive generations of Moslem pilgrims over the centuries rubbed their cheeks on the thresholds of the Tombs of Abraham, David, Solomon and Moses in humility and supplication. Millions of Moslems across the arch of history have sobbed in reverence at the birthplace of Jesus and the Tomb of the Virgin Mary.

            Partly because of this fact, and partly because there are Arab Jews, Arab Christians and Arab Moslems, the Arabs are perhaps uniquely fitted to be titular guardians of the Holy Places, their traditional role and privilege in Jerusalem.  It is in this context that it can be argued in love and modesty that Judaism does not, because of the chronological accident of its birth prior to the two other great monotheistic faiths, absorb subjectively in its ken these two faiths quite in the same manner as they do.

            Be that as it may, it is surely not with these abstruse theological problems that we are concerned today, but with the blatant secular policy of the Government of Israel.  The Zionist attitude to religion being what it is, it is not surprising, though it is abhorrent, that the Zionist[s] and Israel have shown little regard for the sanctity of the shrines and Holy Places of other faiths. Hundreds of mosques in hundreds of Arab villages in Israel have disappeared from the surface of the earth. Some of the mosques in the north of Israel today serve as beatnik studios or worse. The shores of the Sea of Galilee, itself one of the most sacred localities in Christendom, are studded with cabarets and nightclubs, a phenomenon observed and condemned as early as 1946 by the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine.

            The Jordan River, the waters of baptism, have been fouled by the dumping of saline water in it, so that today the Jordan is a stinking and fetid rivulet, thanks to Zionism. In Jerusalem, the Moslem graveyard at Mamillah, containing the tombs of generations of Moslem scholars and saints, has been desecrated. [ix] Christian clergymen wearing their clerical robes have not been spared, and at least one such clergyman, the Warden of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, was shot in cold blood on 7 June. Today, access to the interior of the Al Aqsa mosque is denied, the five daily prayers are forbidden and the call of the muezzin that has reverberated for centuries without interruption, summoning the faithful to prayer, has been stifled for the first time in history.

            Mr. Eban informed us of one reason, among many, for the Israeli annexation of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, he said, was the head and Israel the body. I must say it did not come as a surprise to me that Israel had lost its head; that fact was observable from many of Mr. Eban's utterances. But it is macabre indeed that the truncated body of Israel should choose an Arab head.

            But the body politic of the Palestinian Arab community has always been treated in this cavalier fashion by the Zionists. The partition of Palestine was no less than the vivisection of the Palestinian Arab community. Limb by limb, the body politic of the Palestinian Arab community was devoured by the political and territorial cannibalism of Zionism. With 5 June came the opportunity, or so it seemed to Israel, to finish off the head at Jerusalem and the bleeding torso on the Western bank. Those who talk about the Arab refusal to recognize the right of Israel to exist sometimes forget that under the floorboards of every Israeli home lies a fragment of the corpse of the Palestinian Arab body.  It is against this background that Mr. Eban's statements about the extension of social amenities to Jerusalem Arabs, and particularly the opportunity given them "for intermingling and union" with the Jewish sector, assume their full cynical dimensions. [x]

Let it first be stated that it was the Arabs who always stood for the union of Palestine, and it was the Zionists who intrigued and pressed and agitated for partition. No less than 15,000 Arab casualties resulted from the great Arab rebellion between 1936 and 1939 against the first plan for the partition of the country, and at least an equal number of casualties occurred in the desperate struggle to prevent partition again in 1947. It is Zionism that has brought arson and rapine[,] hate and suffering, barbed wires and minefields to Palestine.

But let us examine for a moment this allegation about the advantages of union and intermingling for the Jerusalem Arabs. Within the city boundaries, both old and new, Jewish ownership of property in Jerusalem constituted on the eve of partition in 1947 no more than 25 per cent. As a result of carefully planned military operations, the Zionists acquired 84.13 per cent of the city boundaries in the 1948 war. This loot of war comprised entire Arab commercial centres and residential quarters: Talbiyeh, Qatamon, Wa‘riya, Upper Baq‘a, Lower Baq‘a, and so forth. The Arab residents of these quarters were driven out by terror and slaughter. The houses, shops, cinemas, offices, hospitals—all the buildings and sites that make up a city—were confiscated and promptly filled with new immigrants.

The Arab residents of these areas stayed on the Jordanian side, within sight of their properties. To these residents permission seems to have been granted to “intermingle” with Israeli Jerusalem. Translated into English, “intermingle” here means permission to view their former properties, the scenes of their childhood, the inheritance of their fathers, the fruit of their toil and savings—to view all this, irretrievably lost, occupied by an alien people, but nevertheless to view it at close quarters. In other words, the Arab residents may now touch their former homes from the outside; they may even smell them, if they want to. For this, the Arabs and all of us here must burst out in praise and adulation for the magnanimity of Israel.

The Arab resident of Jordanian Jerusalem would be well advised not to linger too nostalgically on the Israeli side. He would be well advised to stay put in his property on the Jordan side. It is this which is now at stake. For Jewish property on the Jordanian side constitutes less than 0.6per cent of the area within the city boundary; and experience has taught us that Israeli legislation, municipal and other, is allergic to such ratios.

There are two aspects to the question of Jerusalem. The first is the sovereign right of Jordan to its side of the city, [xi] the sovereign right of Jordan to the territorial integrity of its side of the city, the sovereign right of the Arab residents to their side of the city. This right is part and parcel of Arab sovereign rights over the entire western bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the Syrian heights and the Kuneitra region.  This sovereign right has been challenged by the Israeli announcement of the annexation of Jordanian Jerusalem. The General Assembly has already acknowledged the Arab sovereign right to the Jordanian side of Jerusalem in its resolution of 4 July. The Arab sovereign right to Jordanian Jerusalem is unquestioned and unquestionable, no matter what Israel does. The other aspect is the question of accessibility to the Holy Places and of arrangements pertaining to them. This is a different problem. It must not be confused with the question of Jordan's sovereign right to its side of the city.

In this connexion, as has already been pointed out, the Jordanian side of Jerusalem is not confined to the Holy Places. The Holy Places, in terms of acreage, constitute only a section of Jordanian Jerusalem. In addition to the Holy Places, Jordanian Jerusalem is a thriving city on its own. In addition to “housing” the Holy Places, as it were, Jordanian Jerusalem is also a city of commercial centres and residential quarters, of schools, museums, hospitals, cinemas, libraries, hotels and business blocks. Its population is about 60,000. It is one of the largest cities of Jordan. That is why I emphasize that the question of the Holy Places should be distinguished from that of the sovereign right of the Arab inhabitants of Jordanian Jerusalem to their national and independent existence as an integral part of the State of Jordan.

Arrangements pertaining to access to the Holy Places can be worked out within the framework of Jordanian sovereignty. I have already pointed out that it was Israel which repudiated these arrangements in 1949. It is clear that Israel is attempting to confuse the two issues: the clear and obvious right of Jordan to its side of the city, and the question of arrangements pertaining to accessibility to the Holy Places. It is also clear that Israel is giving the false impression that the question of accessibility can be solved only within the framework of an Israeli Jerusalem.

There never really was a question of accessibility, per se. The Holy Places, under Jordan, were fully accessible to Christians of all denominations, including Christians from Israel. Every year thousands of Israeli Christians crossed over to Jordanian Jerusalem. The failure of these arrangements with regard to Jews was directly due to the repudiation by Israel of the 1949 declaration on Holy Places requested by the  Conciliation Commission for Palestine and the subsequent refusal by Israel of all United Nations resolutions pertaining to the repatriation and compensation of refugees.

Israel is warned not to play with fire in Jerusalem. Its very resort to blitzkrieg tactics, even with regard to the Holy Places, is an index of its inherent disrespect for them and its incapacity to appraise their universal significance.

Israel’s sponsors are also warned not to play with fire in Jerusalem. This issue cannot be fitted into their chronic frame of reference of power politics. A sense of history is called for, however difficult it may be to achieve. We are confident that the American people do possess this sense of history.

To Islam, Jerusalem is not only the first direction of prayer—the Qibla—but also the site to which the Prophet Mohammed journeyed on his nocturnal flight—the Isra’—whence he ascended to within two bow-lengths of the Throne of God—the Mi‘radj.

This is not, and will never be, the parade ground for Israeli troops under review by this or that Israeli personality, however notorious. With Judaism, Islam is, and will always remain, faithfully and hopefully in dialogue; with the forces of territorial aggrandizement and terror there can be no dialogue. Nothing that Israel gives away or tries to give away in Jerusalem is valid. An end must be put to charity by Israel and its sponsors at Arab expense.

Extraterritorial solutions are no solutions. [xii] They are even less solutions when conducted with vengeance and in consolidation of military conquest. Even if for argument's sake they were to be contemplated in theory, their application could not be selective and punitive, nor confined to one side. There is no doubt in our minds that it is in this light, and sub specie aeternitatis, that the matter is viewed on the continent of Europe. That is why we are full of confidence that there will be no panic under the weight of Israeli blackmail.

Israel cannot hide behind ecumenical slogans to perpetuate its stranglehold over Jerusalem. Mr. Eban objects to the use of the word "annex." [xiii] We promise not to use that word any more. But might we suggest "swallow" instead?

It is as clear as daylight why Israel wants Jordanian Jerusalem. It is the strategic key to the West Bank. It isolates the southern half of the West Bank around Hebron from the northern half around Nablus. By controlling Jordanian Jerusalem, Israel can dominate the entire West Bank, control its commerce and communications, shatter its civic harmony, disrupt its administrative life, dominate the approaches to the River Jordan, suck out the handsome annual revenues that accrue from the tourist traffic and pilgrimages, and pounce at will upon any attractive prey in sight, whether moving or stationary.

This is the real intention of Tel Aviv. This is why the sponsors of Israel must speak out unequivocally on this issue. This is why the General Assembly must not fail in its duty. This is why Mr. Eban would be more consistent with the spirit of his Government, and more particularly with the spirit of his colleague, Mr. Menachem Begin, the hero of Deir Yassin, if he were to put aside the absurd sacerdotal robes which he has donned to sell this Assembly his latest brain-wave. [xiv]


1. The U.S. position in 1967 was the contrary of its stance in the Suez War of 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower insisted upon and obtained the unconditional withdrawal of the Israeli, French, and British invaders to behind the 1948–49 armistice lines via UNGA resolutions 997 (ES-I), 999, and 1002 of 2, 4, and 7 November 1956, respectively.

2. Abba Eban, An Autobiography (London: Futura Publications Ltd.,1979), p. 419.

3. Eban, Autobiography, p. 430.

4. “Deciding the Fate of the Territories Occupied During the Six Day War: An Ongoing Debate. The Government Discusses Israel’s Peace Plan 18–19 June 1967,” documents No. 1- No. 5 ISA/A/8164/7–8164/8, Israel State Archives, Jerusalem.

5. UNGA, Fifth Emergency Special Session, 1526th Plenary Meeting (19 June 1967), paragraph 82, in United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly.  Fifth Emergency Special Session, Plenary Meetings. Verbatim Records of Meetings 17 June–18 September 1967 (New York:  United Nations, 1973; doc. A/PV.1525-1159).

6. Emphasis added. UNGA, Fifth Emergency Special Session, 1527th Plenary Meeting (20 June 1967), paragraph 39.

7. The Yugoslav draft called on Israel “immediately to withdraw all its forces to the positions they held prior to 5 June 1967 (emphasis added).” UNGA, Fifth Emergency Special Session, 1540th Plenary Meeting (28 June 1967), paragraph 78 (first draft); 1543rd Plenary Meeting (30 June 1967), paragraph 157 (revised draft). The Latin American draft called on “Israel to withdraw all its forces from all the territories of Jordan, Syria, and the United Arab Republic occupied as a result of the recent conflict (emphasis added).” UNGA, Fifth Emergency Special Session, 1544th Plenary Meeting, (30 June 1967), paragraph 7.

8. It is important to note that the Yugoslav draft also addressed the need to seek long-term solutions, the issue being timing. The final draft (A/L.522/Rev.1) “Requests that the Security Council, immediately after the withdrawal of the Israeli armed forces has been completed, consider urgently all aspects of the situation in the Middle East and seek peaceful ways and means for the solution of all problems—legal, political, and humanitarian—through appropriate channels.”

9. Iraqi Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi, UNGA Fifth Emergency Special Session, 1545th Plenary Meeting (3 July 1967), paragraph 69.

10. Eban (Autobiography, p. 440) attributes the failure of Yugoslavia’s “dangerous” and “skillful” text to the United States “putting its full weight behind [the resolution’s] defeat” through its deployment of “purposeful diplomatic efforts in many of the world’s capitals.”

11. As a result of the stalemate, a third, unrelated draft focused on non-controversial humanitarian issues passed by 116 to 0, with two abstentions, as UNGA resolution 2252 (ES-V) of 4 July 1967.

12. See the eyewitness account of Evan M. Wilson, the American consul general, in his book Jerusalem, Key to Peace (Washington, D.C.: Middle East Institute, 1970), p. 108. On the status quo regarding Jerusalem’s Holy Places, see Report of the Commission appointed by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with the approval of the Council of the League of Nations, to Determine the rights and claims of Moslems and Jews in connection with the Western or Wailing Wall at Jerusalem, December 1930 (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1931. Reprint [The Rights and Claims of Moslems and Jews in Connection with the Wailing Wall at Jerusalem]: Beirut: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1968).

13. Eban was fully aware that the “measures” constituted annexation. In his autobiography, he wrote: “On 27 June, the Israeli parliament voted in favor of adding Jerusalem to the area of Israeli sovereignty (emphasis added).” He also was fully aware of the adverse effect that it would have on the UNGA, and with his colleagues at the Israeli mission to the UN who had urged the government to delay the move until after the UNGA adjourned so that “we should be allowed to do our work in the General Assembly without external impediment.” (Eban,Autobiography, p. 438).

14. Abstaining were the United States, Australia, four European states (Iceland, Italy, Malta, Portugal), five Latin American and Caribbean states (Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, Jamaica, Uruguay), and nine African states (Congo [Democratic Republic], Dahomey, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Central African Republic).

15. The abstentions were the same as for the previous resolution, minus Gabon and Italy.

[i] Resolution 2253 (ES-V). 

[ii] For contemporary accounts and documents relating to the situation on the ground in Jerusalem in the days and months following its capture, see Special Document File, “Jerusalem 1967,” Journal of Palestine Studies 37, no. 1 (Autumn 2007), pp. 88–110.

[iii] Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who represented his country throughout the Emergency Session.

[iv] In his speech of 4 July, Eban declared that “the unity [of Jerusalem], once achieved, is irrevocable.” Speaking of the Pakistani draft resolution that was about to be put to the vote, he charged that it “would have us reinstall the barbed wire and mine fields which have been removed,” and “seeks to violate the unity of Jerusalem, to disrupt its civic union and to advocate return to separation and religious discrimination. It cannot be accepted.” UNGA, Fifth Emergency Special Session, 1547th Plenary Meeting (4 July 1967), paragraphs 72–101.

[v] This refers to the letter to the UN secretary-general transmitted by Israel’s permanent representative to the UN in reply to the former’s request for information under UNGA resolution 2252. Dated 5 July 1967 and signed by Foreign Minister Eban, it was reproduced in full in the secretary-general’s 10 July report to the UNGA and the UNSC (UN document A/6753, S/8052). The letter totally ignores the subject of the secretary-general’s request, that is, the status of implementation of UNGA resolution 2252’s call for Israel to rescind all measures changing the status of the city.

[vi] The allegation was detailed in the Israel’s above-mentioned letter to the secretary-general (A/6753, S/8052).

[vii] “Letter from the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine to the Secretary-General, concerning protection of and free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites in Palestine outside the Jerusalem area,” 16 November 1949, UN document A/1113, A/AC.25/5, section C.

[viii] A/1113, A/AC.25/5, section B.

[ix] The cemetery has been repeatedly desecrated, both before and after 1967, and part of it is currently being excavated, with the destruction of many graves and artifacts, for the building of a so-called “Museum of Tolerance” by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center. For details, see the website of the campaign to stop these desecrations,

[x] Israel’s 5 July 1967 letter (signed by Eban) to the secretary-general (UN document A/6753, S/8052) celebrates “the new mingling of Arabs and Jews in free and constant association” and the Arabs now being “free to renew or initiate contacts with their Jewish neighbors in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel.” Eban’s speech of 12 July contains innumerable references to the “new impulse of fraternity and neighborliness and common discourse amongst Jerusalem’s citizens” and states that even those whose “governments may differ from us . . . on political aspects of this problem should be capable of rejoicing at the ecumenical harmony which now inspires the daily contact and discourse amongst Jerusalem’s citizens.” UNGA, Fifth Emergency Special Session, 1550th Plenary Meeting (12 July 1967), paragraphs 89–112.

[xi] The strong emphasis throughout Khalidi’s speech on Jordan’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and the West Bank relates to the unified Arab strategic and tactical priority of securing a return to the status quo ante bellum.

[xii] The reference here is to Israel’s “offer”—particularly tailored to Western Christian audiences to divert attention from the annexation measures—to put the Holy Places under a vaguely spelled out international oversight.

[xiii] In his letter to the secretary-general (UN document A/6753, S/8052), Eban wrote: “The resolution presented on 4 July by Pakistan and adopted on the same date evidently refers to measures taken by the Government of Israel on 27 June 1967. The term ‘annexation’ used by supporters of the resolution is out of place.”

[xiv] Interestingly, Begin, who as commandant of the Irgun Zvai Leumi was architect of the 9 April 1948 massacre at Dayr Yasin, was one of the authors of Israel’s explanatory letter distributed to the UNGA (A/6753, S/8052) on 10 July. After UNGA resolution 2253 was passed on 4 July, Eban had returned to Israel to join a cabinet subcommitteecomprising Begin (minister without portfolio) and Zerah Warhaftig (minister for religious affairs) tasked with drafting the required letter. (Most probably, the focus on the Holy Places per se also reflected the intuitive reflex of Begin and Warhaftig, both Poles inured in centuries of discourse with a less than friendly Catholic majority.) Herut/Gahal’s entry into the 1967 national-unity government (1 June 1967) marked the end of twenty years in the political wilderness for Begin and the start of his rise to power.

Read more