How the 1967 Naksa changed the game for Palestine

How the 1967 Naksa changed the game for Palestine
Comment: The illegal occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem continues to this day, writes Tamara Kharroub.
5 min read
05 Jun, 2018
Naksa Day commemorates the displacement that accompanied Israel's victory in the 1967 Six Day War[Anadolu]
This 5 June, Palestinians mark the 51st anniversary of the Naksa (or 'setback'), when Israel took over the remaining 22 percent of historic Palestine (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip), as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

Much of what happened in 1967 has been the subject of polarised politics, but the main factors that led to the war are clearly colonialist in nature: the continuous Israeli aggression against Palestinians, the tensions along Israel's armistice lines with Jordan, Syria and with Egypt, the Israeli plan to seize all of historic Palestine and the Suez Canal crisis in which Britain, France and Israel attempted to regain control of the strategic waterway.

The one seminal event that triggered the six days of fighting was the Israeli attack on Egypt on 5 June, 1967. This war was essentially the manifestation of colonialist projects and aspirations in Palestine and the Arab world.

The demise of an international order

The year 1967 has come to represent the demarcation lines for the two-state solution and international law. After the war in November 1967, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242 affirming the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every State in the area can live in security". This should include Israeli withdrawal from the territories it had recently occupied.

The Arab states and the international community have moved on

UNSC Res 242 became the basis for Israeli peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan and for the 1993 Declaration of Principles between Israel and Palestinians. Until this day, resolution 242 remains the primary internationally-agreed upon framework for a resolution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

However, the illegal occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem continues to this day, in violation of UN resolutions along with abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Fifty-one years later, Israel continues to erase any traces of the 1967 lines through settlement construction, building the wall inside the West Bank, maintaining hundreds of Israeli military checkpoints, controlling over 60 percent of the West Bank, demolitions in East Jerusalem, and continuing its siege of the Gaza Strip, all of which are happening under the complacent watch of the international community, and the support of the US.

In its move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US embassy there, the Trump administration signaled the end of US recognition of international law. With the embassy move, coupled with the Trump Administration's tolerant rhetoric on settlements and complete disregard for Palestinian lives in Gaza, the US stands alone in defiance of international law and order.

The national movement is back in the hands of civil society

Last week, just as 21-year old Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar was shot and killed by Israeli snipers in Gaza, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was the only member opposing (and shooting down) a UNSC resolution for the protection of Palestinians.

She unsuccessfully tried to garner support for a resolution that blames Hamas for Israeli killings of unarmed Palestinians. International law, however, remains incapable of protecting Palestinians and bringing an end to the occupation.

The Palestinian national movement

The Nakba and the ensuing fragmentation of the Palestinian people as refugees across the region saw Palestinian dependence on Arab states to counter the colonisation of Palestine. It brought with it a rise in pan-Arabism and Palestinians' support for the Arab Nationalist Movement as a united Arab front to liberate Palestine and fight colonial powers.

The Naksa and the Arab defeat in 1967, on the other hand, marked the end of pan-Arabism and the beginning of a new Palestinian national movement in which Palestinians took matters into their own hands.

Following the events of 1967, Palestinian political parties developed and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) became independent from Arab control, gaining international recognition as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

In the 1970s and 1980s, following Arab abandonment of the Palestinian cause with Jordan and Egypt signing agreements with Israel, and the expulsion of PLO leadership from Jordan and Lebanon, a new form of Palestinian nationalism evolved.

With these events, the centre of the Palestinian national movement moved back to civil society, where universities and civil society organisations were established and began to play an integral role in the functioning of Palestinian society under Israeli military control. This ultimately led to the largely non-violent seminal mass popular uprising in the late 1980s and the peace agreement that established the Palestinian Authority.

After the failure of Oslo, subsequent peace talks, and the Palestinian Authority, the national movement is back in the hands of civil society.

With the failure of the international community to protect Palestinians and grant them their rights, and the recent addition of the Trump gasoline to the fire, Palestinians are once again taking matters into their own hands, this time with strategic, diplomatic means.

Recent years have seen the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement gaining momentum around the world, as well as social media activism, and increased mass protests in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and in Israel.

What we are left with today is an apartheid reality in all of historic Palestine, enabled and supported by the United States

While the prolonged 51-year occupation remains a daily struggle and a reality for Palestinians, the Arab states and the international community have moved on, and the United States has eliminated any remaining hope for a two-state solution along the internationally-recognised 1967 borders.

What we are left with today is an apartheid reality in all of historic Palestine, enabled and supported by the United States.

As the international community has utterly failed to protect the rights and lives of the Palestinian people, they now must take a moral stance in supporting the Palestinian-led initiatives for justice and human rights.

Dr. Tamara Kharroub is a Senior Analyst and Assistant Executive Director at Arab Center Washington DC.

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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.