1967-69 Backgrounder

In the 1967 Israeli-Arab/Six Day war, Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, resulting in their gain of an immense new territory: the West Bank and East Jerusalem; the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula; and the Golan Heights. The war’s death toll was staggering: 777 Israelis and an estimated 18,000 Arabs. Shortly after the war, Egypt began attacking along the Suez Canal to pressure Israel to withdraw from the Sinai. These attacks evolved into the War of Attrition. Although predominantly a dispute between Israel and Egypt, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Syria, and Jordan also became involved. Somewhere between 600 and 1,400 Israelis and 3,000 and 10,000 Arabs were killed.

The Israeli took two major actions following the war. On June 22, 1967, the Knesset voted to annex East Jerusalem, which included 2.5 square miles of Jordanian East Jerusalem plus approximately 25 square miles of the West Bank under Jordanian rule, including 28 nearby villages. The unilateral annexation has not been recognized by any country or international institution.

On June 19th, the Cabinet approved a widely cited offer indicating Israel’s readiness to exchange land for peace with Syria and Egypt. New research by Israeli historian Avi Raz, however, finds that the message was never delivered to Arab leaders. According to Raz, it was “mainly a diplomatic manoeuver whose aim was to gain American political support against a Soviet move at the United Nations (UN) for immediate and unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in the war.”

In response to the War, the Arab League held a summit in August, which culminated in the Khartoum Resolution. The resolution contained the three noes: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it…” It was released following the August 29 Arab League Summit.

The UN responded to the war with the passage of Resolution 242 by the UN Security Council. It was subsequently used as a reference in future peace initiatives. It “requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles: (i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; (ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

On October 31, 1967, The Movement for the Greater Land of Israel was founded with a manifesto, signed by 57 prominent Israelis – both Labor Zionists and Revisionists: “We do not have a license to give up the Land of Israel any more than to give up the State of Israel.” Prior to the 1973 elections, the Movement for the Greater Land of Israel joined as a faction in the newly created Likud Party led by Menachem Begin’s Herut Party.

The new Palestine Charter, passed at the July 1-17, 1968 Palestine National Council meeting, amended the 1964 Palestine National Covenant, putting a greater emphasis on armed struggle as the “sole road” to liberation of the “indivisible” Palestinian homeland. Zionism was defined as “a political movement organically associated with international imperialism and antagonistic to all action for liberation and to progressive movements in the world.”

In the October 1969 Knesset elections, Golda Meir was chosen by the Labor Party to lead the country following the death of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in February.  Both the Greater Settlement Movement’s “List for the Land of Israel” and the peace movement’s NESS unsuccessfully ran candidates in the October 29, 1969 Israeli Knesset elections.