The 1967 Six Day War and its effect on the History of Israel


On June 5, 1967, a war between Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Israel began only to end on June 10, 1967. During this war, Israel possessed the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula and Jerusalem. The Six Day War began due to continuous hostility from the Arab world towards the State of Israel, which had started during the War of Independence. In the War of Independence, the newly established State of Israel was able to expand its territory and defeat the Arab army that had invaded it. Due to the war, nearly 700,000 Palestinian Arab refugees either fled the country or were expelled in 1948. Officially, the armistice lines of 1949 were not recognized as international borders by the Arab country and Israel was not recognized by the country diplomatically. According to the Arab, Israel was referred to as “The Zionist entity” and had no right to exist. “Reversing the results of 1948” as well as destroying and defeating Israel had become the main goal for the Arab political rhetoric. The leadership and prestige of the Arab world were based on leadership in the confrontation of Israel. The aftermath of the June 1967 War and the extend it signaled the change and continuity in Israel’s history will be explained within this paper.

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Six Day War of 1967

Today, it is hard to recapture the feelings that were present before the Six Day War. AT that time, all over the world, people knew that Arab’s are trying to push Israel in the sea. Their apprehensions of dread continued rising as the war drew closer and closer. However, in contrast, confidence and strength radiated from the Rebbe. Shortly after the war was over, a state delegation traveled to Washington from Jerusalem and told the Americans that in exchange for peace, Israel was ready to give the land conquered during the war back to the Arabs. In the beginning, the Americans were amazed and unable to believe what they had heard. However, the Israelis communicated the messages when the repeated their promises. Flabbergasted, the Arabs had never imagined the Israeli government would return the territories they had conquered during the war. Regardless, the Americans were able to assure them that Israel would indeed keep their promise.

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Why did the Arabs turn down the offer? Simply due to the fact that the Arabs weren’t contemplating the thought of giving even lip service to the idea of peace between the two countries. Their hatred towards the Israelis was so powerful that they weren’t able to make a public statement about ending their aggressive behavior towards Israel. A diplomatic campaign demanding that the land Israel had conquered during the war be returned was launched by the Arabs from that moment on. The Arabs would have never thought of making such a demand if the Israel had not made the offer in the first place. A pattern similar to this one is seen in regards to those Arabs living in the West Bank. Immediately after the war, numerous Arabs felt the need to flee to other Arab countries. A greater number of Arabs would have gladly done so as well if it weren’t for their lack of financial assets. The other Arab countries would have gladly accepted them during that period in time as well. They would not have had any choice. Still, the Israeli leaders prevented the Arabs from leaving by closing down the borders.

The Israeli government explained that, at the time, they were trying to get the Arabs to stay because they wanted to show the world a great example of coexistence between different nations. That proved to be rather shortsighted. All of the Intifada, the demographic problems along with the sensitive issues that the population of Arabs in the West Bank wouldn’t have risen if the Arabs would have been allowed to leave. The magnitude of these conflicts would have lessened if a significant decrease in the Arab population had occurred (Schindler, 2008).

Aftermath of Six Day War

Numerous long-term implications were left on the region as the aftermath of the Six Day War. The refugee problem was exacerbated due to Jordan’s decision to take part in the fighting because a number of West Bank residents crossed the Jordan River to the “East Bank”.

Over the next two decades, some of the people that moved over to the East Bank were able to come back to the Israeli-controlled West Bank and witness exceptional growth over the course of the next 20 years. “Israeli investment into the infrastructure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, coupled with policies that allowed Arabs to move freely increased the standard of living of Palestinians, who were now able to work both in Israel and in the oil-rich countries in the Middle East” (Schindler, 2008).

Due to the war, Jewish-Christian relations in the United States had distorted as a number of Jewish leaders blamed the Christian institutions for not speaking out against enmity the Arabs had towards the Israelis in the weeks before the war began. Christian publications had previously held Arab responsible for the war; however, by 1968, Christian activists and commentators started to change their previous opinion of the Arab-Israeli conflict to one of Arab’s innocence.

The 1967 War had immense political importance; Israel displayed that Israel was able and willing to commence strategic strikes that could possibly change the regional balance. In an attempt to regain the territory they had lost, Egypt along with Syria learned tactical skills and launched an attack in 1973.

Egypt analyzed the causes for its loss in the war in 1967 after the Arab-Israeli War in 1973. Issues such as “promotions on the basis of loyalty rather than expertise, and the army’s fear of telling Nasser the truth”, “the lack of intelligence as well as weapons, organization, command and the will to fight” and “the individualist bureaucratic leadership” were amongst the issues that were identified.

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According to Chaim Herzog

A unanimous vote was placed by the National Unity Government [of Israel] on June 19, 1967 that agreed to return Golan Heights to Syria the Sinai to Egypt and in return, they wanted peace agreements between the countries. Special arrangements for the Straits of Tiran would be negotiated while the Golans would have to be demilitarized. In regards to the Eastern border, the government agreed to resolve open negotiations with Jordan’s King Hussein” (Schindler, 2008).

The United States was to convey the Israeli decision to the Arab nations. Although the United States was informed of the Israeli decisions, it wasn’t aware of the fact that it was supposed to transmit it. Many historians believe that none of them were aware of that offer, and there was no solid paper proof.

The Khartoum Arab Summit concluded that there would never be peace, recognition or negotiation with the Israeli in September. The Gaza Strip was not included in the decision made by the Israeli Cabinet on June 19, leaving the possibility that Israel may permanently acquire parts of the West Banks. From June 25th to June 27th, East Jerusalem was incorporated together with multiple areas of the West Bank to the south and north in Jerusalem’s new boundaries by Israel.

“The authors of the Resolution 242 were aware of the fact that some territorial adjustments were more than likely, therefore, they purposefully didn’t incorporate the words “all” or “the” in the official English version of the text when referring to “territories occupied” during the war, although it is included in the Spanish, French and Russian versions” (Oren, 2002).

The right of all states in the area to live peacefully with security and recognition of boundaries free from acts of force or threats was recognized by it. After the Camp David Accords, Sinai was return to Egypt by Israel in 1978 and in the summer of 2005, it was disengaged from the Gaza Strip even though Israeli army frequently enters the Gaza Strip for operations related to the military and still controls the border crossings, airports and seaports.

The aftermath of the war is also holds religious significance. “Even though Article VIII of 1949 Armistice Agreement permitted Israeli Jewish access to the Western Wall, Jordanian rule effectively barred them from doing so” (Eyes Upon the Land, n.d.). Jewish cemeteries had been desecrated while their holy sites were not maintained. All religious groups were granted control over its respective holy sites after its annexation to Israel.

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