Courtesy Reuters

The Arab-Israeli War


Israel's decisive victory in the Six Day War of June 1967 radically altered the dimensions of the Arab refugee dilemma. It is no longer the same dilemma which has confronted the Middle East, the United Nations and the United States for some twenty years. Almost overnight Israel became the principal refugee host country, with approximately half the total number of registered refugees under its control. This is an ironic turn in the history of the problem, since Israel had always insisted that the refugees be resettled beyond its frontiers in the neighboring Arab territories of Jordan, Egypt and Syria. Now that it controls parts of those countries, it is directly confronted with responsibility for more than one million Arabs- about half of them refugees of 1947-48. Any settlement of the Palestine conflict which Israel would find acceptable will bring many of these territories and a substantial number of their Arab inhabitants under its permanent jurisdiction.

Israeli public opinion, press comment and government attitudes are daily becoming more intense in their determination that there be no return to the prewar boundaries. Each day that passes without tangible indications of a major change in Arab policy toward Israel further entrenches the new status quo and whets Israeli appetites for retaining larger slices of the "new territories." Jerusalem, with its borders greatly extended into Hashimite Jordan, has already become "non-negotiable," and the city's 65,000 Arabs have been declared residents of Israel. Responsible leaders of all political parties except a pro-Arab faction of the Communists have declared other areas such as Gaza, the Syrian Golan Heights, Sinai and western Jordan negotiable only with guarantees that they will never again threaten Israel. Since these areas include half the Palestinian Arabs, their future will be determined by Israel's plans for the territories.

The dimensions of the new territories are startling. They are about four times the area of Israel within its 1948 armistice frontiers. The Jordanian West Bank includes most of the major towns in

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