JERUSALEM Within days of capturing East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, Israel was examining options about their future ranging from Jewish settlement-building to the creation of a Palestinian state.
As the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the war nears on June 5, recently unearthed documents detailing the post-war legal and diplomatic debate have a familiar ring, and underline how little progress has been made towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Akevot, an Israeli NGO researching the conflict, has spent thousands of hours over two years gaining access to declassified, often dog-eared, documents and building a digital record of them.
The group’s aim in obtaining the files, at a time when the Israel State Archives has restricted access to its resources as it conducts its own digitization project, is to ensure that primary sources of conflict decision-making remain accessible to researchers, diplomats, journalists and the wider public.
“One of the things we realized early on was that so many of the policies related to current day Israeli government activities in the occupied territories have roots going back to the very first year of occupation,” said Lior Yavne, founder and director of Akevot.
“Policies that were envisaged very early on, 1967 or 1968, serve government policies to this day.”
In six days of war, Israel’s army seized 5,900 square km (2,280 square miles) of the West Bank, the walled Old City of Jerusalem and more than two dozen Arab villages on the city’s eastern flank.
On other fronts it conquered the Golan Heights from Syria, and Sinai and the Gaza Strip from Egypt.
But for the Israeli prime minister’s office, the foreign ministry and assorted legal advisers, the thorniest questions surrounded how to handle the unexpected seizure of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the 660,000 Palestinians living there.
“THE WAR NEVER ENDED”
A little over a month after the…