George Rishmawi / IMEMC – Op-Ed – 2004-06-07 07:48:09
(June 5, 2004) — On June 5, 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, Golan Heights from Syria and Sinai Desert from Egypt in what has since been known as the 6-days war. The Palestinians call this day, “Al-Naksa” Arabic for the word (setback). Today, is the 37 anniversary of this war.
Israel has always claimed that the 1967 war was a self-defense as the Arabs started the war and wanted to destroy Israel at that time. There are several evidence that this is not necessarily true. Israel has always wanted the West Bank and Gaza Strip and especially East Jerusalem.
Noam Chomsky, a Jewish intellectual, argued against that in his book, The Fateful Triangle.
“The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weitzman, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was ‘no threat of destruction’ but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could ‘exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.’… Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: ‘In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.’ (“Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle.)
The late Prime Misniter of Israel, Yitzhaq Rabin, assassinated by a Jewish fanatic Igal Ameer in 1995, affirms that Egypt did not want to attack Israel.
“I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to The Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.” Rabin said in an article published in Le Monde French paper on 2/28/68 [when] he was Israel’s Chief of Staff in 1967.
Furthermore, The New York Times, May 11, 1997 said in an article that Moshe Dayan, the Minister of defense at the time admitted that Israel provoked the war on the Syrian side and occupied the Golan Heights out of greed for more land.
“Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, as Defense Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan…[said] many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the Government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for the farmland… [Dayan stated] ‘They didn’t even try to hide their greed for the land…We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot, and then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was…The Syrians, on the fourth day of the war, were not a threat to us.'”
Why did Israel build all these settlements if they did not intend to stay in the West Bank? Why did Israel build settlements in Gaza Strip? Why did not Israel build settlements in the south of Lebanon when they occupied it in 1982? Did they realize that they cannot stay there early enough and did not want to be get trapped with settlers as they are now?
The Israeli government is not able so far to decide to withdraw from the Gaza strip and some remote settlements in the West Bank. Some far right wing ministers, more right than Sharon, are willing to resign than to be in a government that will vote to evacuate Gaza. They are doing their best not to pass this decision in the government, despite their certain knowledge of how good this would be for Israel on the political level.
It is true that Arab countries did not recognize the state of Israel and some still do not. However, Israel is still occupying the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It needs to end this occupation for the Arab countries to start normal relations with Israel and recognize it as a neighboring country.
Had Israel captured the West Bank for security reasons assuming that the Arab talks about waging war against Israel carried real intentions, which is doubtable, it will not face an ideological problem in withdrawing from the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip as the myth of the Arab States intention to destroy the state of Israel has diminished long time ago.
John Quigley, professor of law at Ohio State University argues that it is unlawful keep land gained by war even in a self defense case. “Under the UN Charter there can lawfully be no territorial gains from war, even by a state acting in self-defense. The response of other states to Israel’s occupation shows a virtually unanimous opinion that even if Israel’s action was defensive, its retention of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was not… The [UN] General Assembly characterized Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as a denial of self determination and hence a ‘serious and increasing threat to international peace and security.’ ” (John Quigley, Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.)