On 6 June 1967, following growing tensions with Arab states, Israel launched a pre-emptive air attack which destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground, secured air supremacy, led to total victory on the ground and a cease-fire on 10 June. Egypt conceded defeat. Israel's destruction of Egyptian air power was decisive and the USA and Britain were accused of colluding with Israel in the decisive air war. This came to be called the `Big Lie': a disaster for American and British relations with the Arab states. In its aftermath, the Six-Day War is a major factor in the seemingly insoluble Palestine-Israeli conflict. It played a decisive role in Britain's departure from the world stage as a great power with the withdrawal 'East of Suez' in 1968. Frank Brenchley was Assistant Under Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs at the Foreign Office (later the FCO) in 1967-9 and is therefore in a unique position, as the ultimate insider, to explain the policy-making that aimed to refute the allegations and re-build Britain's position. Brenchley shows the far- reaching political and economic effects of the Six-Day War, and argues that the British government, by constantly asserting its strict neutrality, by strenuous denials in Parliament and the UN, and through the diplomacy of foreign secretary George Brown, re-built their damaged relations with the Arab world. But the Israeli-Palestine problems stemming from 1967 remain to haunt the present world with huge effect, not least in local and international terrorism, while a generation ago they were a signal for Britain's retreat from Great Power status in the Middle East and the wider world.
Britain, the Six-day War and Its Aftermath