The Six Day War
The 40 year anniversary of the Six Day War waged against Israel by the Arab world is almost here. Charles Krauthammer has a good article outlining some of the history of the war, and why Israel is reluctant to simply return to the territorial boundaries it had before this unprovoked attack.
that three-week period between May 16 and June 5 helps explain Israel's 40-year reluctance to give up the fruits of the Six Day War -- the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza -- in return for paper guarantees of peace. Israel had similar guarantees from the 1956 Suez War, after which it evacuated the Sinai in return for that U.N. buffer force and for assurances from the Western powers of free passage through the Straits of Tiran.
It is also of note that he mentions that the USSR, who had been trying to turn the Muslim world against the west and its allies (including Israel), fed false information to Egypt which directly led to the war.
For more information check out the Wikipedia entry on the Six Day War. Wikipedia of course refers to 'Palestinian Refugees', which is actually a little misleading, as
It is important to note however that Palestine was never an independant nation and that Palestinians refers to those people who claim residency in that area. Prior to 1948, they were immigrants of Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. After 1948, those Arab countries refused to allow them to return forcing them into lives as refugees.Yep. People immigrated, attacked Israel. Got defeated and their Arab friends refused to take them back (How often has the west been derided for it's refugee policies?).
Reading a bit more about the history also has uncovered other crumbs of interesting information. "4,255,120 Palestinians are registered as refugees with UNRWA; this number includes the descendants of refugees from the 1948 war, but excludes those who have emigrated to areas outside of the UNRWA's remit." Curiously, in 1947, the UN records that only around 800,000 arabs where in the Palestinian territories. Over 40 years, this is a population increase of around 4.5% a year. Pretty impressive for an 'oppressed' people.
The Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt in 1948 (who also disbanded the Palestinian Government in 1959) and so Egypt only wanted the area returned to the Palestines after they lost control of the region.
The West Bank was ruled by Jordan from 1948 and they only demanded it's return to the Palestinian's when they lost control of the region to Israel.
It seems a key goal of the Arab world was to marginalise the Palestinian people so that the Arab world could divvy up the areas for their own rule. They didn't want a Palestinian state. They wanted the land for themselves. Ironically this means that if Israel had been destroyed in any of the wars waged against it by the Arabs, there would still not be a Palestinian state.