The Socialist 7 June 2007 |
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40 years since the Arab-Israel 1967 war
Repression and bloodshed continues
THE START of a six-day war on 5 June 1967 between Israel and its neighbouring Arab states resulted in an overwhelming military victory for Israel. The political effects of the war continue to shape the conflict in the region today.
Victory meant that Israel had control of eastern Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula (causing the closure of the Suez Canal) and Syria's Golan Heights.
Today, Israel retains control over East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The continuing occupation of these territories and the settlement of Israeli Jews in these areas, is a source of great conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and Syria.
The Sinai was returned to Egypt following a peace treaty in 1979. Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but the area remains blockaded by Israel and is subjected to air strikes and regular incursions by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
While Palestinians have been denied national statehood and continue to suffer brutal repression from the IDF as well as social and economic oppression, areas of Palestinian land have been annexed by Israeli settlers, encouraged or orchestrated by successive Israeli governments.
Creation of Israel
The establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 following a brief Arab-Jewish war - and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Israel and the subsequent expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries - created a new source of political instability in the Middle East.
The Israeli ruling class and its expansionist policy came to be militarily and politically aided by the US, which saw the new state as a bulwark against Soviet influence and anti-imperialist Arab nationalism.
"Israel thus becomes a cock-pit for the policies of the Great Powers. The Israeli leaders have allowed themselves to become the willing tools of imperialism. She has become also a convenient scapegoat for the failings of the Arab governments" wrote the Militant, - the socialist's predecessor in June 1967.
In 1956 Israel colluded with Britain and France to invade Egypt in an attempt at 'regime change' after Egypt's populist president, colonel Nasser, nationalised the Anglo-French Suez Canal company.
Tit-for-tat cross border military raids by Palestinian guerrillas and Israeli forces continued to escalate during the 1960s. In April 1967 a border incident escalated into a full-scale aerial battle between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights.
On the eve of the 1967 war, Militant wrote: "The immediate cause of the conflict has been the threat of the Israelis to march on Damascus, the capital of Syria, in retaliation for the [Palestinian] guerrilla raids organised from Syrian territory. This provided the opportunity for Nasser to order the United Nations force, which had stood between Israel and Egypt ever since the Suez war of 1956, to quit Egyptian territory and to march his troops up to the Gaza strip on the frontiers of Israel."
The 1967 war, far from bringing security for Israelis, deepened Arab-Israeli enmity and was followed by more wars and further suffering among Arabs and Israelis. It exposed the impotence of the United Nations as a body for conflict prevention and resolution. It exposed too the rottenness of the semi-feudal Arab regimes and Nasser's pan-Arab nationalism.
Neither the world imperialist powers nor the capitalist ruling classes in the region can solve the burning questions of national and democratic rights. Only a socialist federation of Middle Eastern states, including a socialist Palestine and a socialist Israel - established by a revolutionary movement of the working class and poor - can lay the basis for peace and end poverty and exploitation.
The socialist will carry an article on the present situation in the Palestinian occupied territories later this month.