Six Day War 50th anniversary
June 5-10, 2017 -- On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt that drew Syria and Jordan into war. Fifty years on, the repercussions of the Six-Day War continue to reverberate around the Middle East and the wider world.
GN NEWSAHEAD -- Fifty years after Israel defeated Arab armies in the Six-Day War and began to occupy land beyond its borders, the negotiations that might have averted new conflict on the sensitive anniversary have run out of steam.
Israel’s decisive victory included the capture of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem, Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.
Palestinian fury has grown apace with Israel’s determination to hold on to its conquests. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been hanging his hopes for a negotiated two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders on the efforts of the so-called Quartet – the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia. Those negotiations are nowhere in sight. Newer conflicts, particularly in Syria, have overtaken the older Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
The Middle East publication Al-Monitor reported in Aug 2015 that for Israelis the anniversary offers a juncture for reflection on the country’s identity as a Jewish democracy. Recent news indicates that Israel will celebrate the day as the anniversary of a monumental victory, with screenings and print that relive the pivotal moments of the conflict. It will also be a day of remembrance for the Israeli casualties of the war, and for tributes to its veterans.
To many Palestinians, the date represents the absolute deadline for the achievement of independence, according to the same Al-Monitor report. The return of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 and 1967 conflicts remains one of the many sticking points in the fitful peace negotiations.
A Palestinian official reported to be close to PLO President Mahmoud Abbas told the Middle East publication that time is running out for Palestinian diplomatic efforts, and complained about unremitting Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. “Come June 2017, without Palestinian statehood, we will have no choice but to revert to an alternative strategy of achieving statehood through conflict.” He foresees Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as the center of the violence, with Arab countries and Shiite and Sunni terror organisations joining the fight. Other Palestinian publications refer to the anticipated violence as the “intifada of independence.”
On Jun 6 Palestinians will also mark the 69th Nakba Day, the establishment of Israel in 1948, making the period doubly sensitive.
The two-state solution is nowhere on Israel’s radar, and on Jun 8, 2016, while travelling with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a state visit to Russia, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel told the Times of Israel that the world should forget about a Palestinian state. According to the report of the statement in the Washington Post, he said he wants the government to take complete control of more than half of the West Bank and remove the Palestinian residents from the territory.