The Israeli-Arab war of June 1967 was a crucial turning point for French diplomacy. The condemnation of the Israeli offensive jeopardized the “best ally” status France had enjoyed in Israel since 1948, even though the much-debated “arms embargo” was not effective until 1969 and Tsahal ultimately won the war with French weaponry. But Charles de Gaulle's opposition to Israel's use of force earned him tremendous prestige in the Arab world, allowing Franco-Arab relations to turn the page on the Suez Crisis and the Algeria war. It was also the launching pad of France's so-called Arab policy, which complemented French opposition to the Vietnam War and the country's withdrawal from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military command. This “third way” diplomacy was strongly supported in France by the nationalist right wing and the Communist Party.
De Gaulle took power in May 1958 and founded the Fifth Republic. The main challenge facing him was the war that had been raging in Algeria since 1954, a war that had led the last governments of the Fourth Republic to consider Arab nationalism an archenemy. During the Suez Crisis during the fall of 1956, Guy Mollet's France was much more committed to the Israeli alliance than Anthony Eden's Great Britain. The political failure of that military offensive against Egypt had triggered anti-French riots all over the Middle East and the severing of diplomatic relations with France by the Arab states (with the exception of Lebanon). In the aftermath of such a disaster, Mollet felt a moral duty to safeguard Israel's security, and he ordered a secret cooperation programme in the field of nuclear technology. In addition, France remained the main military supplier of the Jewish state, and together they developed advanced aeronautical and even ballistic projects.