Assess the consequences of the 1967 (Six Day) War for Arab–Israeli relations On the 23rd May 1967, the Israelis declared war on the Arabs due to the blocking of the straits to Israeli shipping. The 1967 Six Day War had a major impact on Arab-Israeli relations.
This is due to Israel gaining control over the occupied territories, large increases of Jewish settlement in the occupied territories, the increase of Israeli military in the Middle East. The Israeli occupation of Arab territories had a large impact on Arab-Israeli relations.
Through the dominancy of the Israeli army during the Six Day War, they were able to capture the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip from Egypt, East Jerusalem, the West Bank from Jordon and the Golan Heights from Syria. In addition, Israel controlled the Sharm el-Sheik and the Gulf of Aqaba. This was significant as Israel stopped Jordanian ships from entering the Red Sea and closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Arab shipping increasing the tensions between Israel and its neighbouring Arab States.
In November 1967, UN Resolution 242 called for ‘the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the territories occupied in the recent conflict’ and the right of all countries ‘to live in peace with secure and recognised boundaries’. Even though, UN Resolution 242 favoured both parties, the Arabs did not regain their territories as Israel debated the resolution did not specify the withdrawal from all territories and they claimed that the Occupied Territories were vital to its security.
However, Israel did emphasis the second measure of the resolution claiming their right to exist, but the Arabs ignored it implying that Israel would first have to withdraw from the occupied territories. By both Arabs and Israelis not accepting UN resolution 242 and the continual Israeli control over the occupied territories, the tension between Arab-Israeli relations had increased. Also, the large increases of Jewish settlement into the Occupied Territories had a major impact on Arab-Israeli relations.
Between 1975 -1977, Israel had made 75 settlements in the West Bank as they offered people cheap housing and necessities such as employment and appliances. The Gaza Strip contained approximately 300,000 Arabs and the Israelis had settled 3000 Jews in the area creating tension between Arabs and Israelis as evident through the ‘Intifada’ from 1987 to 1993 which killed thousands of people. By Israel creating large settlements in the Occupied Territories, it would be an obvious obstacle to any future peace negotiations over withdrawal from the
Occupied Territories. The large group of Jewish immigrants also produced conflict in the Occupied Territories creating hardship for the Israeli Army as they continually had to stop violent raids. The Arabs argue that Jewish settlements should not occur in the Occupied Territories as it was Arab land; however the Jews argue that this land religiously belonged to them as through the biblical names of the West Bank, “Judea” and “Samaria”.
By Israel increasing Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, the Arab-Israeli relations had deteriorated as it was now difficult to organise a Jewish withdrawal. Furthermore, the increase in the Israeli reputation and the decrease in military strength of the Arabs heavily impacted Arab-Israeli relations. On the 5th June 1967, the Israelis launched a pre-emptive strike on the Arabs as 180 Israeli warplanes attacked the airfields of Egypt, Syria and Jordon destroying 400 military planes ultimately deciding the fate of the Six Day War.
There is a general agreement amongst historians “that although Israel struck first, this pre-emptive strike was defensive in nature”. As a consequence of the war, 12,000 Arabs had died with only 338 Israeli casualties. Historian Avner Cohen writes, “In the end Israel launched a pre-emptive aerial attack in which most of the Egyptian air force was destroyed, virtually deciding the Six Day War. Through Israel’s dominance they were regarded as the ‘strongest military power in the Middle East’.
Also, the Arabs had become severely weakened as a result of the Six Day War, as they had lost a high amount of casualties and the relations between Syria, Jordon and Egypt declined as evident through Syria not accepting UN Resolution 242 while Egypt and Jordon did. Through Israel’s superiority, their relations with Egypt had improved as highlighted through Egypt recognising Israel as a state in 1979. Nevertheless, Israel’s dominancy also stresses its improvement in its relations with Jordan signing a peace treaty in 1994, and Iran signing a peace treaty in 1979.
Even though, certain relations improved the Arabs would turn to terrorism and the Israeli army would be seen as the aggressor. By Israel dominating the Six Day War and establishing itself as the ‘strongest military power in the Middle East, its relations with other Arab countries had dramatically improved. In conclusion, the 1967 Six Day War had a major impact on Arab-Israeli relations. Due to Israel gaining control over the occupied territories and increasing its settlement, the
Arab-Israeli relations had declined as the Arabs were livid that Israel would not withdraw from the Occupied Territories and further complicate the situation by increasing Jewish settlement. Also, the Israeli’s had become maddened as most Arab countries continued not to recognise Israel as a state. However, as the reputation of the Israelis became high and the military strength of the Arabs declined, Arab-Israeli relations improved as evident through the peace treaties of Jordan, Egypt and Iran.