SIR – In reply to Frank Adam's letter ‘Arabs didn't have to start war with Israel’ (June 22nd) in which he peddles the myth that the Six-Day War, whose first attack was carried out by Israel, was ‘defensive.’ This false narrative is used by apologists to justify Israel’s current occupation and settlement of Palestinian and Syrian territories.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, a chief cabinet member during the Six-Day War, admitted, on August 8th, 1982 that Israel did not believe Egypt would attack Israel. Historians now agree that the Egyptian troop placements in the Sinai were defensive and did not constitute an offensive threat.
Why the Israeli supporters such as Frank Adam characterise the Six-Day War as defensive is important: they claim that Israel did not require UN Security Council approval because it conducted the war out of self-defence; therefore, its actions during and after the war were legal, including the annexation of Arab lands. As is clearly historically established, no ‘armed attack’ from Egypt existed when Israel launched the war, rendering Israel’s initiation of the Six-Day War unequivocally illegal and offensive.
Thus, Israel’s territorial acquisitions of Palestinian and Syrian land were and remain illegal. Expanding one’s territory by way of force is ‘conquest’ and is illegal under international law, explained here in three points:
1 The , whose text specifically emphasises the illegal nature of ‘the acquisition of territory by war.’
2 Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter makes explicitly illegal ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity.’
3 The 4th Geneva Convention (Article 49) explicitly states that the ‘Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’
He condemns Hamas resistance, but fails to acknowledge Israeli historian Milo Peled’s conclusion that the Six-Day War was a ‘cynical campaign of territorial expansion’ and that: ‘Israel is the one that created the reality into which Palestinians have to resist. Israel is maintaining a vicious oppression, a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing and what can only be described as crimes against humanity.’
The Trump ‘wrecking-ball’ foreign intervention style extends to his son-in-law Jared Kushner as he brings forward his ‘dead in the water ME peace plan.’ No plan which ignores a two-state solution; a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem; a return to 1967 borders and Palestinian refugees’ right of return can succeed.
Peace achieved through dialogue and involvement of all protagonists, as in South Africa and Northern Ireland, has not influenced Kushner & Co, and the strategy of isolating Palestinians from deciding their own futures is bound to fail.