Following the Six-Day War in June 1967, Gunnar Jarring, a Swedish diplomat, was appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations to serve as a third party to the Arab-Israeli conflict. From December 1967, Jarring and his modest staff shuttled between the participants involved in the peace talks, namely Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Some three years and a quarter later, the mission was in practice brought to a close, leaving no viable results in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
This study explores in detail the course of the Jarring mission. While doing so, two focal questions are posed: Firstly, what role did Gunnar Jarring play in the peace process following the Six-Day War in 1967? And secondly, how can the Jarring mission’s lack of tangible results be explained? As an approach to explore Jarring’s performance and the mission’s room for manoeuvre within the given circumstances, the thesis presents some theoretic reflections regarding potential roles, approaches and constraints of a mediator.
Jarring has been referred to as merely a mailbox, because he largely transmitted messages and proposals between the parties to the conflict. This indicates that Jarring simply filled the role of a communicator. For the lion’s share of the mission, this observation is correct. However, his degree of involvement increased considerably towards its end. Jarring also acted as a formulator: at first by composing possible solutions to procedural matters, and further, at the very end of the mission, Jarring presented to Egypt and Israel his independent peace plan, proposing a solution to substantial issues underlying the conflict. Thereby he intervened as an active third party to the negotiation process.
Apart from the personal qualities of the mediator, various factors may serve to help explain the outcome of the Jarring mission. This analysis focuses mainly on the impact of contingent and structural factors on the mission’s room for manoeuvre. In this regard, practical politics and power relationships relevant to the Jarring mission are explored on a regional and an international level. Regionally, the domestic situations in Jordan, Israel and Egypt are taken into account. In addition, the thesis examines what impact the changed balance of power resulting from the Six-Day War had on the Jarring mission. In a wider context, the extent of influence held by the international community over the Jarring mission is a focal issue. A meaningful question in this regard is whether an unbiased, impartial and weak third party, like a UN envoy, can achieve results beyond what powerful nations wish for him or her to do.
In comparison with the efforts of the US, the Soviet Union remained rather disengaged from the Middle East diplomacy throughout the Jarring mission. Apart from its close ties to Israel, the stronger party to the conflict, the US therefore held a prominent position as an external actor. As a result, an analysis of the influence of American policy on the Jarring mission is a main theme in this study.