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1967: Egypt and Jordan unite against Israel
The King of Jordan and President Abdel Nasser of Egypt have signed a joint defence agreement.

The news came as a surprise to Egyptians and foreigners alike since King Hussein has often been criticised for cosying up to the West.

Just two days ago, the president had called the king an "imperialist lackey".

Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight
President Nasser of Egypt
But it seems they have found a common enemy in Israel.

Tensions in the region have been building for the last three weeks since Egypt increased its military presence in the Sinai Peninsular and ordered the United Nations Emergency Force off Egyptian territory.

On 22 May President Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.

Five days later he declared: "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."

Unannounced visit

Today, King Hussein was met at Almaza military airport by the president on an unannounced visit to the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Five hours later, Cairo Radio announced the two leaders had signed the deal stating that "the two countries consider any attack on either of them is an attack on both and will take measures including the use of armed forces to repulse such an attack".

The five-year deal paves the way for the creation of a defence council and joint command. General Mohammed Fawzy, Egypt's Chief of Staff, would command military operations in case of war.

After the agreement was signed, President Nasser thanked his "dear brother" King Hussein for coming to Cairo and said any differences between their nations had been erased "in one moment".

King Hussein then flew back to the Jordanian capital, Amman, accompanied by the chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Ahmed Shukairy. He is in charge of commando forces in the Gaza strip bordering Israel.

Israel says the pact has greatly increased the danger of an all out-war between Israel and the Arab states.

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King Hussein of Jordan inspecting his troops on the border with Israel - 29 May 1967
King Hussein of Jordan inspecting his troops on the border with Israel the day before his surprise visit to Cairo



In Context
After a period of relative peace in the Middle East, Palestinian guerrilla groups, supported by Egypt and Syria, started a series of attacks on the Israeli border in 1965.

These were followed by Israeli reprisals and a gradual build-up of Arab military forces around Israel's border.

When diplomatic efforts by the UK and the US failed, Israel took decisive action on 5 June 1967.

It launched a massive pre-emptive strike that crippled Egypt's air force, then seized the Sinai peninsula from Egypt in the south and the strategic Golan Heights from Syria in the north. It also pushed Jordanian forces out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, uniting the once divided Holy City.

The assault ended on 10 June and became known as the Six Day War - it changed the face of the Middle East conflict.

It also displaced some 500,000 Palestinians who fled to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab nations that have since made peace with Israel.

Stories From 30 May


 
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