The disciples of the Gush Emunim settlement movement saw the Six-Day War as the fulfillment of another stage of the redemption, but many others believe that the war was disastrous for Israel. They believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had harsh consequences for the image of secular and democratic Israel. I think this viewpoint ignores the opportunities the war provided, because of the rotten fruits of the occupation.
The Six-Day War was the watershed of the conflict. It brought about significant changes, not only problems that remained unsolved after the War of Independence - recognition, borders, security, Jerusalem and the fate of the Palestinian refugees. The changes included assets that Israel could exchange for agreements.
First, the war granted international legitimacy to Israel's conquests in the War of Independence and removed the "partition borders" from the agenda. On the other hand, even after 44 years of occupation, the international community refuses to grant legitimacy to Israel's annexation of a single square meter without an agreement. In other words, the 1949 lines are the compensation for the 1967 conquests.
Second, the war changed the Arab countries' interests in the conflict. If until 1967 their interest was to control territories in the Land of Israel, since the Six-Day War they have focused on returning Israeli-occupied territories. This change led to the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, to the Syrian attempt to reach an agreement, and even to the Arab League's proposal for a regional peace agreement.
Third, the war changed the scope of the diplomatic and military conflict. The conflict is no longer between Israel and the Arab countries, but between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians reached that point only after their leaders abandoned the armed struggle for all of Palestine in favor of a diplomatic struggle for part of it. By doing so they revived the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state based on UN Security Council Resolution 242. In other words, the state would be established on 22 percent of the land in exchange for recognition of Israel.
Fourth, the war forced the Jewish community in Israel to decide on its priorities: partition or Greater Israel? What's more important - a land or a state? What will be the nature of the Israeli regime - a democracy or an ethnocracy for the Jews? What comes first - the rule of law or the rule of the rabbis? How should we treat the Arab minority - as a fifth column or as Israeli citizens?
In other words, the Six-Day War was the fulfillment of the view expressed by right-wing Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky in his 1923 essay "The Iron Wall." "A living people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions only when ... not a single breach is visible in the iron wall," Jabotinsky wrote. "Only then do extreme groups lose their sway, and influence transfers to moderate groups. Only then would these moderate groups come to us with proposals for mutual concessions ... and both peoples, like good neighbors, can then live in peace."
The Jewish people must decide whether it is also a "living people" that knows how to propose and accept compromises based on the parameters presented by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, or whether it is still under the spell of Gush Emunim and the advocates of "price tag" attacks on Palestinians.
The more the Netanyahu government postpones the necessary decision on swapping the last asset gained in the Six-Day War - Judea and Samaria - for a final-status agreement, the more it will endanger Israel's significant diplomatic achievements since 1967, the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and the strategic alliance with Turkey.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now