- Title: Israeli documents from days after war have familiar ring 50 years on
- Date: 31st May 2017
- Summary: JERUSALEM (FILE) (REUTERS) PEOPLE GATHERED AT WESTERN WALL/DOME OF THE ROCK ABOVE
- Embargoed: 14th June 2017 07:13
- Keywords: Israel Jerusalem Six Day War Archives Jerusalem
- Location: JERUSALEM/RA'ANANA, ISRAEL/GIVAT ZEEV SETTLEMENT, WEST BANK
- City: JERUSALEM/RA'ANANA, ISRAEL/GIVAT ZEEV SETTLEMENT, WEST BANK
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA0036J63ZGN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Within days of capturing East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war, Israel began wondering how to play its cards, legally and diplomatically. Half a century on, it's still shuffling the same hand.
In six days of war in that summer, Israel's army seized 5,900 square kilometres 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.
As the 50th anniversary of the war approaches on June 5, the shadow of those debates - contained in once-top-secret cables, letters and memos held in Israel's national archive - still hangs over political discourse to this day: the definition of occupation, what responsibilities Israel has under the Geneva Conventions, how to refer to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the legal basis - or lack thereof - for settlements.
Akevot, an Israeli NGO researching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has spent thousands of hours in the past two years painstakingly gaining access to the declassified, often dog-eared, documents and building a digital record of them.
The aim, at a time when the Israel State Archives has greatly restricted access to its resources as it conducts its own digitisation project, is to ensure that primary sources of conflict decision-making remain accessible to researchers, diplomats, journalists and the wider public.
The highly classified files obtained by Akevot contain evidence of how Israel sought to negotiate the legal and diplomatic baggage of the conflict, paving the way for much of the ambiguity that still shrouds the policy to this day.
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