An Israeli diplomatic initiative almost prevented the liberation of Jerusalem’s Old City during the Six-Day War, according to a leading historian. Michael Oren, author of the celebrated history “Six Days of War,” said Wednesday that new details gleaned from a British archive suggested that Israel’s 1967 offensive in Jerusalem almost never happened. Oren said he had learned that, as Israeli forces were poised to go in, then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol made a secret peace overture to King Hussein of Jordan, which controlled Jerusalem and the West Bank. Eshkol’s proposal, made via British intermediaries, was that Israel stay out of the Old City — site of the Temple Mount and Western Wall — if Jordan agree to an immediate cease-fire, expel Egyptian officers from its ranks, and enter peace talks. But Hussein had no response and Israel took a united Jerusalem. “It is clear that Hussein could not have accepted Eshkol’s offer because the Arab world would have risen up against him,” Oren told Ma’ariv.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.