"There has hardly been a Middle East peace plan in the past 40 years - including the current Saudi version - that does not demand a return to the status quo of June 4, 1967. Why is that date so sacred? Because it was the day before the outbreak of the Six-Day War in which Israel scored one of the most stunning victories of the 20th century. The Arabs have spent four decades trying to undo its consequences.
In fact, the real anniversary should be now, three weeks earlier. On May 16, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Nasser ordered the evacuation from the Sinai Peninsula of the U.N. buffer force that had kept Israel and Egypt at peace for 10 years. The United Nations complied, at which point Nasser imposed a naval blockade of Israel's only outlet to the south, the port of Eilat - an open act of war.
How Egypt came to this reckless provocation is a complicated tale (chronicled in Michael Oren's magisterial "Six Days of War") of aggressive intent compounded with miscommunication and, most fatefully, disinformation. The Soviet Union had reported urgently and falsely to its Middle East clients, Syria and Egypt, that Israel was massing troops on the Syrian border for an attack. Israel desperately tried to disprove this charge by three times inviting the Soviet ambassador in Israel to visit the front. He refused.
"...It is hard to exaggerate what it was like for Israel in those three weeks. Egypt, already in an alliance with Syria, formed an emergency military pact with Jordan. Iraq, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco began sending forces to join the coming fight. With troops and armor massing on Israel's every frontier, jubilant broadcasts in every Arab capital hailed the imminent final war for the extermination of Israel. "We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants," declared PLO head Ahmed Shuqayri, "and as for the survivors - if there are any - the boats are ready to deport them."
For Israel, the waiting was excruciating and debilitating.
Israel's citizen army had to be mobilized. As its soldiers waited on the
various fronts for the world to rescue the nation from its peril, Israeli
society ground to a halt and its economy began bleeding to death. Army Chief
of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, later to be hailed as a war hero and even later
as a martyred man of peace, had a nervous breakdown. He was incapacitated
to the point of incoherence by the unbearable tension of waiting with the
life of his country in the balance, knowing that waiting too long would
allow the armies of 100 million Arabs to strike first his country of 3 million."