Who participated in the war, and why?
The six-day war was fought by various countries in the Middle East region. Essentially, the war was between various Arab countries against Israel. The Arab countries that actively participated in the six-day war included Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Prior to the 1967 war, the presence of Israel in the Middle East was hanging in the balance. The combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria started to openly prepare for war against Israel, whereas other Arab leaders called for Israel’s destruction. This war was borne out of historical resentments in which the Arab countries neighboring Israel did not welcome Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East (Smith, 2001).
The Arab world was not happy with the Balfour Declaration and Jewish nationalism that was allowed to take place in the British Mandate of Palestine. Also, the status of international waterways that led to Israel was one of the reasons behind the 1967 six-day war. It has to be noted that Egypt implemented a blockade on the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran, restricting shipping destined for Israel in the 1940s and early 1950s. This was action violated the various resolutions and conventions that had been previously established (Gat, 2005).
Why did Egypt re-enter the Sinai?
Egypt had been forced to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula in 1956 following the invasion that was conducted by Israel, France, and the United Kingdom to open up the blockaded Straits of Tiran. Following this move, the United Nations Emergency Force was deployed in the Sinai in an effort to stop Egypt from re-imposing a blockade. In the wake up to the 1967 six-day war, Egypt was regarded as a force to reckon with in the Arab world (Gat, 2005).
The re-entry of the Egyptians into the Sinai was based on faulty intelligence that was provided by the Soviets. It was been argued that the Soviet ambassador to Cairo informed Egypt about the presumed looming attack that Israel was planning against Syria. The ambassador noted that Israel was busy amassing her army near the Syrian borders in preparation for an attack against Damascus.
In response to these assertions, Gamal Abdel Nasser mobilized his army and stationed them in the Sinai. He also called for the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force that had been deployed in the area after the 1956 conflict (Ajami, 2007). It has been observed that Nasser wanted to engage in disingenuous political maneuvers so as to gain a political edge over Israel, similar to the case in the Suez conflict. Nasser also aimed to show his military might in an effort to reinforce and strengthen his pan-Arab credentials that were diminishing (Gat, 2005).
What were the effects of this in the Arab world?
The 1967 six-day war is regarded as critical in the history of the Middle East as it has redefined the political scenario in the region. Also, this conflict redefined the boundaries of the state of Israel. With Israel emerging victorious against its Arab enemies, Israel redefined the political as well as the military geography of the Middle East region. This war also accelerated the pace of cultural identification between the United States and Israel (Stephens, 2007). The pre-emptive war of 1967 led to the destruction of the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian warplanes while still on the ground. Israel was able to take control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza strip, the West Bank of Jordan, and the Golan Heights (Gat, 2005).
The defeat of the Arab states in the six-day war with Israel marked a critical event in the history of the region. This is because this war was associated with political, economic, military, and cultural importance. From this war, it was established that the Arab governments derived their legitimacy from the objective of liberating the Palestinians.
After the war, the Middle East was characterized by an assortment of various elements such as dented pride, desire for justice, political rivalry between rival political groups, and increased frustration and lack of comprehension with respect to the ‘Zionist’ state. After the defeat, Arab leaders converged in Khartoum and resolved not to establish peace with Israel; not to negotiate with Israel; and not to recognize Israel. Therefore, the defeat acted only to exacerbate the enmity between Israel and her Arab neighbors (Smith, 2001).
What did the Israelis gain?
The 1967 six-day war was fought swiftly, with Israel emerging victorious over her Arab adversaries. Israel was able to defeat the frontline enemies and captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza strip from the Egyptians, the Golan Heights from the Syrians, and the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem from Jordan. The ease and greatness of the victory of Israel in the war had profound impacts on the part of Israel.
This victory redefined Israel’s society and politics. It is worth noting that Israel has remained undecided on how to deal with the territories that were captured during the 1967 war. Israel is contemplating whether to use these territories as a tool for peace or use them for strategic and/or religious purposes (Smith, 2001). The 1967 Israel-Arab conflict was locked up in a complex situation in which the Arab countries were said to be supported by the Soviet Union.
In the meantime, Israel was not backed by any state and acted on its own. However, the victory redefined Israel’s relation with the international community, especially the United States. Ever since that victory, Israel has become a close associate of the United States. Stephens (2007) noted that, even though the war was short-lived, it had a profound impact in the sense that it consolidated a special relationship between the United States and Israel.
What significant issues resulted in the Palestinians?
After the Arabs lost heavily in the 1967 six-day war, Israel occupied territories that once belonged to the Palestinians. The Israelites were not willing to oversee the division of their ‘new territory’ into two states with independent economic and political entities. At the same time, Israel negated the establishment of a single political and economic entity that included the Palestinians (Arnon, 2007). To the Palestinians, this war transformed the manner in which they perceived the world. Before the war, the Palestinians had their beliefs in the Arab countries and hoped that the Arab states would be able to destroy Israel.
However, this was not to be after the disastrous loss of the Arab states in the conflict. The Palestinians turned to national movements that were distinctive from the Arab states. They embraced international terrorism strategies in an effort to attract world attention. Though the PLO accepted the establishment of a two state solution to the problem, the Islamist Hamas were opposed to any peace agreement with Israel. The violent struggles that are witnessed between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza are an indication of internal division among the Palestinians on how to handle Israel. It can be argued that the 1967 Arab-Israel war led to the emergence of Palestinian nationalism which has adopted terrorism as the way to make their plea to be heard (Smith, 2001).
How did the international community react?
The 1967 six-day conflict was fought in a volatile atmosphere and the international community chose to abstain. In this case, both the United States and the United Nations were committed to inaction. The United States did not engage in the conflict due to the fact that the country was already engaged in the Vietnam conflict. Also, it has been noted that President Johnson was concerned more with his waning popularity and reelection than what was happening in the Middle East. President Johnson, drawing from his past experience, also thought that the Congress would not let him engage in another military confrontation (Arnon, 2007).
After the war had ended, the United Nation Security Council passed Resolution 242 which laid emphasis on the inadmissibility of a territory that had been acquired through war. It was also demanded of Israel to withdraw from the areas that had been captured during the war. This resolution also called for respect among all the nations in the region, asking them to refrain from war-like activities (Arnon, 2007).
This resolution was rejected by the Palestinians as it only mentioned them as refugees who needed to be settled. Apart from the numerous resolutions which have been adopted, efforts have been undertaken to resolve the stand-off between the Arab states and Israel but effective results are yet to be attained. Egypt managed to negotiate for a return of its territory but other countries are yet to strike a deal with Israel. The issue of the Palestine state has remained controversial but the international community has not given up on finding a long-lasting peace settlement (Smith, 2001).
Ajami, F. (2007). Israel’s Triumph. U.S. News & World Report, 142(21): 41-44.
Arnon, A. (2007). Israel policy towards the occupied Palestinian territories: the Economic Dimension, 1967-2007. Middle East Journal, 61(4): 573-595
Gat, M. (2005). Nasser and the Six Day War, 5 June 1967: A Premeditated Strategy or an Inexorable Drift to War? Israel Affairs, 11(4):.608–635.
Smith, C. D. (2001). Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Stephens, E. (2007). America, Israel & the Six Day War. History Today, 57(6): 12-19.