"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Six-Day War and the Search for Peace

Press Release from The Israel Project

On June 5, Israel will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War (June 5 -10, 1967). In that conflict, also known as the 1967 War, the Israel Defense Forces fought a defensive battle against eight Arab armies that had amassed on Israel's borders. Each year, Israelis remember and honor lost lives and the painful sacrifices the country made in the hope that peace would one day exist between the Jewish State and its Arab neighbors.

Israel did not enter the Six-Day War with ambitions for territorial expansion. However, Israel's victory did result in the acquisition of lands previously controlled by Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

Following the war, the Arab states initially refused to recognize, negotiate or make peace with Israel. But in ensuing decades, following diplomatic agreements between Israel and some of its neighbors, Israel voluntarily gave back most of the land acquired in June 1967.

One of those pieces of land was the Sinai Peninsula. A decade after the 1967 War, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat agreed to a land-for-peace deal in which Israel returned all of the Sinai it had won during the war. In the process, Israel also ceded control of valuable oil fields and forcibly relocated thousands of its own citizens from the Sinai community of Yamit. Since then, Egypt and Israel have lived side-by-side in peace for more than 28 years.

Jordan finally agreed to a land-for-peace deal in 1994, in which Israel returned land in the Negev border area that it had won in the 1967 War. Israel and Jordan now have diplomatic relations and enjoy educational exchanges, political dialogue and economic trade.

Since the Six-Day War, and even after subsequent wars over the years, Israel has tried but has been unable to achieve a lasting peace agreement with Syria or the Palestinians.

In 1998 and 2000, Israeli and Syrian negotiators met to broker a peace agreement. Despite Israel's willingness to cede most of the Golan Heights and move out all of the Israelis who live there, Syria rejected the offer and refused any form of official relations with Israel.

For decades, Syria has perpetrated attacks against Israeli civilians through its sponsorship of terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Syria also works closely with Iran to rearm terrorist groups in the region. Iran is the world's chief state-sponsor of terror, and its president has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. The principle goal of Syria's leadership is the destruction of Israel.

In August 2005, Israel completely withdrew all of its forces from the Gaza Strip and evacuated more than 9,000 civilian residents beyond the 1967 border. This was a painful and risky sacrifice that Israel hoped would lead to a future final peace agreement with Palestinians. Almost immediately afterward, Palestinian terrorist groups began using Gaza to stockpile weapons, fire rockets into Israel and openly erect terrorist training camps.

More than 1,300 Qassam rockets have been launched by Palestinian militants across the 1967 border into Israel, killing 10 Israelis. The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has done nothing to stop the attacks, and members of its armed forces are directly involved in planning and executing them.

Despite the violence and bloodshed that continues today, the government of Israel is still committed to one day living peacefully and securely side by side with the Syrians, and alongside an independent and democratic Palestinian State.

Six-Day War 4oth Anniversary guide

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