The war was over. A battle for survival had ended with an overwhelming Israeli victory. In just six days, Israel pushed back the Arab armies that threatened its existence, and achieved defensible borders.
In the war, Israel captured Eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, also known by the Biblical names Judea and Samaria, which held deep religious meaning. The West Bank was the birthplace of the Jewish people and had maintained a continuous Jewish presence for 3,000 years, until 1948.
This was significant. In 1948, Jordan captured these lands and expelled all Jews from Eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City of Jerusalem, and the West Bank. For 19 years, Jews were not allowed to access the Western Wall or other Jewish holy sites. Israel’s victory meant a reunited Jerusalem and free access to holy sites for all religions.
Along with land, Israel found itself in control of a population it had no intention of governing before the war. Hundreds of thousands of Arab residents were now under Israeli jurisdiction in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel also controlled the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, but also the site of a sacred Muslim mosque and shrine.
To show its commitment to coexistence, and in an attempt to avoid future violence, Israel made an unprecedented and controversial move: it gave control of the Temple Mount to the Jordanians, just 10 days after the war’s end.
Additionally, after the war, Israel sent an offer to the Arab countries: territory in exchange for peace. But there was no answer – one of many unreciprocated peace overtures made by Israel.
Three months later, Arab leaders met in Sudan, crafting a resolution known as “the 3 Nos of Khartoum”: “No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, No negotiations with Israel.” Israel’s Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, later stated: “This is the first war in history which has ended with the victors suing for peace and the vanquished calling for unconditional surrender.”
Israelis were dismayed. They hoped that their victory would lead to negotiations in which captured land would be returned in exchange for genuine peace with their neighbors, but they were met with a flat refusal to negotiate.
This video was produced by Jerusalem U in partnership with The Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish National Fund, the Israel Action Network, the European Jewish Congress and the Center for Israel Education. For more on the dramatic events and impact of the Six Day War, visit sixdaywarproject.org.
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