Second, the accession of territories brought with them a new problem, that of hundreds of thousands of refugees and a completely new citizenry, a hostile one at that, into Israeli fold. It was anyone’s guess whether they would prove to be an asset or a liability.
Given the circumstances, Israel’s leadership would’ve agreed to trade the newly acquired territories in 1967 for peace treaties with Arab nations, however the latter didn’t show any inclination for direct talks.
Israel would do so many years later. In 1982, it returned Sinai to Egypt in exchange for a peace treaty and unilaterally gave up control over Gaza in 2005. While it holds on to the Golan Heights, Israel has handed over its control in some areas in West Bank to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
Third, the war changed the nature of the Israeli state. The addition of lakhs of new people presented its own problems. Giving Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank political rights would mean a dilution of the Jewish nature of Israel but not doing so would invite charges of imperialism and oppression. Israel chose the latter. Until 1981, the occupied territories remained under military rule and then under a civil administration run by a unit in the Defense Ministry.
In just six days, Israel’s status went from a defensive state fighting for its survival to, as Ian Lustick puts it, an imperialist one.
Fourth, the new populace, which was very poor compared to Israeli citizens, solved the problem of Israel’s growing need for low cost mass labour. They took up tasks that Israel’s citizens would rather not do. This proved to be a boon not only for the Israeli economy but also for the poor Arabs as their economic conditions changed dramatically. Political rights remained a far cry but unemployment in Gaza kept falling as more and more refugees found opportunities to work in nearby Israeli towns. Agriculture activity boomed in West Bank where farmers were not only free to trade in East Bank in Jordan but were provided with markets in Israel to the west. Under the guidance of Israeli experts, farmers also started shifting from low-price crops to labour-intensive ones.
Fifth, the peace, however, didn’t follow the improvement in economic conditions of people in the occupied territories. The decisive and one-sided Israeli victory had created a sense of hopelessness in the general population in Arab countries that Israel could not be defeated. Their leaders also realised that engaging Israel in a conventional war would only spell more doom for them.
Egypt and its Arab allies including guerrilla organisations now sought to bleed Israel by a thousand cuts. Egypt with its air force replenished within months of the June war started harassing Israeli forces in Sinai with heavy aerial bombardments along the Suez Canal and raids into Sinai. Its guerrilla allies on the other hand launched terrorist attacks with the help of local Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank. Israel paid them back in the same coin but peace remained elusive.
The Six-Day War had changed the nature of warfare in the region.
Sixth, the main reason why Egypt could recover from the humiliating defeat in the June war so quickly and force the war of attrition on Israel was solely because of the Soviet Union which replenished its arsenal, most importantly its air force. Israel’s complete dominance over its enemies during the 1967 war threatened to reduce the USSR’s dominance in the region. To protect their hard-earned clout, the Soviets decisively shifted towards Arabs, a major geopolitical orientation with great ramifications.
The United States, though sympathetic to Israel before 1967, was trying to keep both sides happy and went to great pains to refute the allegations of collusion with Israel in attacking Egypt.
But with the USSR’s tilt towards the Arabs and the presence of the sizable politically conscious and influential Jewish population in America, it became easier for the US to pivot towards Israel. The war changed a friend into a strategic ally, as Israel’s former ambassador to America, Michael Oren recently put it.
Seventh, the 1967 war changed so much—geography, geopolitics, demographics, economy, politics couldn’t have remain insulated for long. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Six-Day War sowed the seeds for the growth of the right wing in Israel. The bone of contention was the newly occupied lands which the Labour parties wanted to trade in exchange for long lasting peace agreements with Arabs. Right wing parties vehemently opposed the idea as did traditional Zionists. West Bank and Gaza, they reasoned, were part of the promised land, the Greater Israel. The war threw up a new leader in Menachem Begin. An insignificant entity before the war, the right-wing coalition led by Likud under the leadership of Begin, would go on to form the government in 1977. Since then, the right wing coalition has ruled for the major part of the last four decades.