Important historical events play an essential role in understanding the present situation of a country, as well as in foreseeing its future condition. This is due to the fact that these serve as a basis in analyzing the previous decisions and actions of those officials in the government and how these affected the general public during that time and up to the present. This kind of adage is applicable in the situation of Israel and the other Arab nations that participated in the Six Day War.
In relation to this, it is the objective of this paper to discuss and analyze the Six Day War. In doing so, the succeeding paragraphs will explain the root cause of the conflict and its effects to the domestic situation of Israel. It will also look at the decision of the political officials of the respective countries that were involved in the war and its internal effect to the domestic politics of the country. In relation to this, the paper will also analyze the effects of the intervention of other countries with the problem.
Lastly, it will also give due attention to the creation of a government of national unity. Origins of the Six Day War During the year 1956, there has been no expectation that a third round of fatal conflict will once again occur between Israel and the Arab Nations. Nevertheless, there was an increasing anxiety that is observable in the region. This started when Egypt concluded a defense pact with Syria. In April 1967, there had been an increasing mobilization of troops and military exchanges across the border of Syria.
This also led to the death of six Syrian MIG fighters which were shot down by Israeli forces. Because of these, the negotiations for the settlements between Israel and Syria were taken for grated (“The Rise of the Right”). The Soviet Union also aggravated the already existing tension by asserting that the Israeli troops are already building-up near the Syrian border with the objective of taking over Damascus. The President of Egypt during that time, Gamal Abdel Nasser succeeded in his demand regarding the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force.
As a result, this withdrawal separated the forces of Israel and Egypt, as well as allowing Nasser to close the Straits of Tiran to vessels with the Israeli flag. These actions of Nasser served as a catalyst in the foreseen crisis. The situation started to go against Israel especially when President Lyndon Johnson did not fulfill the pledge that the United States gave to Israel in February 1957 that stipulates “no nation has the right to prevent free and innocent passage” which is clearly violated in the situation at the Straits of Tiran.
The United States is more in favor of a diplomatic solution to address the problem and this is seen despite the provision of Hawk ground-to-air missiles to Israel by President John F. Kennedy. Nevertheless, the Israeli military was caught off guard as they have not predicted a new war and this time there were no United States arms for them (“The Rise of the Right”). The period leading to the outbreak of hostilities was characterized by then Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s efforts to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means.
However, the military warned Eshkol that any delay to make a decisive action increases the chances of the Arabs in winning. The hesitance of Eshkol to conduct an all out war together with Nasser’s mobilization of his forces and the military pacts with Syria and Jordan, as well as the Arabs’ rhetoric “to liquidate the Zionist state” further heightens the people’s fear that another holocaust in Israel will take place (“The Rise of the Right”). The increasing tension from the public caused more calls for action which paved the way for Ben-Gurion’s to once again take the seat of power.
Like before, Ben-Gurion supported the military in contradicting the stand of the politicians. However, Ben-Gurion failed in his efforts to replace Eshkol as his followers Peres and Dayan did not support this decision. A broad coalition was established under the leadership of Eshkol with Dayan as the Minister of Defense. Despite the creation of this coalition, the stand of the government regarding a pre-emptive strike is still divided (“The Rise of the Right”).
The only action that Eshkol did in order to protect their interest was by mobilizing the military forces across the Arab world specifically by sending Iraqi troops in Jordan. On the 26th of May 1967, the Israeli intelligence informed the Americans that Egypt would attack within the span of fifty-eight hours. The United States protested to the Soviets regarding this matter, which opted for Nasser to stop the imminent military operation against Israel when he received a letter from Soviet Premier Kosygin.
Nevertheless, the Soviet Unions conducted a top-secret mission wherein they penetrated the Israeli air space to know the developments of its nuclear facility. This reveals Israel’s vulnerability that caused the two-day surgical operation with the objective of annihilating the Egyptian air force and a ground operation in order to counteract the Egyptian defense lines in Sinai. The limited operation continued on its own especially with intervention of the Jordanian forces (“The Rise of the Right”). The two parties were closely matched as they both have 240,000 to 260,000 troops.
Israel has the offensive side as they are the ones who started the Operation Moked that destroyed the Egyptian air force. More than 300 aircrafts were ruined as the Jordanian and Syrian air forces were also attacked. Later on, Israel also defeated the 100,000 Egyptian forces in Sinai (“The Rise of the Right”). Regardless of Israel’s precaution, the Jordanians still got involved with the war in the fight for Jerusalem. As a result, the Israelis reined supreme against the well-trained Jordanians in the battle of Ammunition Hill which also enabled them to acquire the Arab East Jerusalem.
Moreover, the Israelis also conquered the Wailing Wall which is the Western outer wall of the Temple complex and the Temple Mount (“The Rise of the Right”). Dayan, the Minister of Defense unilaterally used Israel’s military advantage to attack the Syrians even without the approval coming from the Cabinet. In this operation, the Israelis were able to scale and capture the Golan Heights from the Syrians. This incident also affected the citizens of Syria as between 200,000 and 300,000 Arabs coming from the West Bank relocated to Jordan, as well as tens of Thousands of Syrians from the Golan Heights.
The victory of Israel over this Six Day War expanded their territory to almost fourfold because of the lands they obtained from defeating Egypt, Syria, and Jordan (“The Rise of the Right”). Abba Eban announced that the “Auschwitz borders” are now gone. Despite the fact that the Six Day War was not about territorial conflict and Israel has no intention of fighting Jordan, Israelis were still able to acquire the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the old city of Jerusalem, as well as cities of Biblical significance like Hebron and Nablus.
The acquisition of these territories paved the way for the resurrection of the old Zionist debates regarding the borders of the state (“The Rise of the Right”). The Government of National Unity The Israeli political scene is also dominated by external forces that tend to influence, and sometimes even manipulate the situation of the country. This is quite observable in the intervention of the United States that planned the ascendance of Levi Eshkol in power and the establishment of a government of national unity.
The United States declared that the nuclear project in Dimona is illegitimate based on their anti-proliferation campaign. This caused Ben-Gurion to be removed from power and for Levi Eshkol to take his place. The United States favored Eshkol’s leadership as he is more cunning and clever in continuing the Dimona project based on terms and condition of the Americans. However, the coalition of Eshkol was composed of conventional strategists who were interested in preemptive wars and territorial reform especially in the West Bank, as well as in ideologies that advocate ending the partition of Western Palestine.
Among the things that Eshkol’s coalition made was the launching of the preventive, conventional war of 1967 and occupying the West Bank so that they will not simply rely on their nuclear option, as well as not to maintain Ben-Gurion’s credo that calls for partition by all means necessary (Aronson, n. d). Nevertheless, Eshkol went against the interest of the United States when he continued with the nuclear project in Dimona even though the United States was pressuring him to freeze it. This allowed the United States to inspect Dimona, which added to its illegality and thus, an incompetent means for deterrent.
Eshkol was able to make concessions with the United States regarding the nuclear project in Dimona and the missile deployment but Washington still did not help Eshkol during the 1967 crisis that he had to deal with. This contributed largely in his downfall, as well as to the creation of a national unity government that supports a solely preventive war (Aronson, n. d. ). Before the Six Day War and its results took place, the inauguration of a national unity government was first established. Dayan, the used to be the supporter of Ben-Gurion left his previous leader behind and went to the side of Levi Eshkol as the Minister of Defense.
Begin who was the ostracized leader of the far right was also invited to join the government of Eshkol who remained to be the Prime Minister. The collaboration of Eshkol, Dayan, and Begin under the government of National Unity paved the way towards the birth of the Likud Bloc. The Likud Bloc, together with its own legacies and Holocaust-related myths, played an important role in the Israeli’s psyche. This is due to the fact that the ideology of the Likud bloc is reflected in the educational system of the country and it also heavily influences the behavior of Begin during his time in office as the Prime Minister in 1977 (Aronson, n. . ).
Israel’s Domestic Scene The events of the Six Day War did not merely affect the political landscape of Israel, but it also has its consequences in the domestic situation of the country. Israel might have expanded their territorial scope but they have to pay the price of which is the fragmentation of the country’s unity. The old Zionist debates resulted in the different stand of the Israelis that caused differences to emerge among each other. The Israeli Right that is composed of religious Zionist, impassioned nationalists and security specialists are pushing for a greater Israel (“The Rise of the Right”).
The tension in the country is clearly observable within the crisis in Israel’s political arena. Coalitions such as: Begin’s Gahal, Ben-Gurion’s Rafi and the National Religious Party that are against Eshkol’s Mapai. This serves as the ideological basis for the establishment of a Likud government under the leadership of Menachem Begin. After Israel’s victory, the members of these coalitions and their supporters believed that Israel should keep the conquered territories for various reasons like nationalist, religious and security purposes (“The Rise of the Right”).
The domestic problem of Israel also heightened due to the discontentment of the public, as well as some political officials regarding Ben-Gurion’s leadership. Ben-Gurion’s public approval decreased during his last years because he did not allow others to govern when he knew that their perspectives were different from his. Even though he was recognized as the forger of the state, he was not able to properly give credit to his colleagues because he opted to promote younger officials to hold key positions in government.
Because of the decreasing popularity of Ben-Gurion, his previous authoritative spell was broken. Moreover, the different perspectives of Israel political leaders regarding important matters such as international affairs and domestic policy is also a reason as to why there is a very observable division within the Israeli politics. The government’s lack of unity also rubs off to the increasing fragmentation of the Israeli society (“The Rise of the Right”). The Six Day War that took place in 1967 has changed the political landscape of Israel as well as its domestic situation.
This conflict started way back before the Six Day War took place. However, the armed conflict between Israel and Palestine and its other Arab neighbors is still continuous up to this current time. Being the case, it is vital that this conflict, specifically the Six Day War, should be given due attention in order to properly understand this conflict. Such understanding could aid in finding the most probable ways of providing the solution for this warfare.