In June 1967, Israel displaced over 400,000 Palestinians as a result of the Six-Day War. The Naksa (setback) is the most prominent wave of Palestinians expulsion after the 1948 Nakba, resulting in Israel seizing the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the West Bank. Decades later, the UN Security Council still feels it accomplished its duty through Resolution 242 which considers Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories a “principle”, rather than an obligation.
The Naksa is synonymous with Israel’s military occupation – a term which has eclipsed colonialism and which shields Israel from accountability. Political rhetoric does not confront Israel with decolonisation; instead it focuses on military occupation and as a result, shifts attention away from the ongoing colonial expansion which is still displacing the Palestinian people.
Within the international community and especially in relation to the two-state compromise, diplomacy regarding Israel’s military occupation proved a veneer to refrain from acknowledging the UN’s role in Israel’s creation and maintenance. Accepting Israel as a state marked the first collective normalisation of Zionist colonialism in Palestine. Sovereignty, built upon the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their land, was attributed to the colonial entity in Palestine. With Palestinians deemed a humanitarian urgency since 1948 and the classification further entrenched in 1967, the international community’s dismissal of the Zionist colonial project not only normalised colonialism, but also the ensuing military occupation of Palestine.
This has occurred due to the UN’s narrative of Israel’s international law violations, which are isolated from the earlier violence meted out by Zionist paramilitaries during the Nakba. From 1967 onwards, the military occupation provided Israel with the opportunity to legislate violations in order to collectively punish Palestinians and increase the likelihood of gradual Palestinian displacement, thus appropriating more land for its colonial expansion.
To describe Israel only as a military occupation is inconsistent with Israel’s colonial identity. Likewise, the calls to end Israel’s military occupation of Palestine ignore the colonial reality which supports the legislation depriving Palestinians of their movement, political expression, livelihood, basic necessities and freedom. Military occupation is a tool for colonial Israel; it does not define Israel and should not be exploited by the international community as the means to further deprive Palestinians of their anti-colonial endeavours, as is their political right.
For Palestinians, 1967 is a continuation of the 1948 Nakba, as is the military occupation of Palestine. It is the international community that played upon equivalence between colonialism and occupation, making them synonymous to facilitate the two-state diplomacy. In addition, the US consolidated its ties with Israel following the Six-Day War, which under President Donald Trump resulted in the so-called deal of the century which builds upon the two-state paradigm to pave the way for Israel’s annexation of the occupied West Bank.
Although the 1967 war reinforced colonial domination over Palestine, the UN is partial to the military occupation, as it provides an alternative, albeit incomplete, departure point for the current framing of Israel’s narrative and its dissemination. The ongoing international law violations against the Palestinian people, including settlement expansion, now form part of Israel’s purported security narrative, which the UN has regularly defended, even as it issues weak statements condemning the transgressions.
The earlier Palestinian political unity and commitment to anti-colonial struggle post 1967 has been disrupted not only due to political rifts between Palestinian factions, but also due to the UN’s insistence on negotiations, which have in turn vilified the military occupation while normalising Zionist colonisation. For Israel, 1948 was the initiation; 1967 was the path to secure complete domination over all Palestinian land, facilitated by the subsequent betrayal, decades later, of the Palestinian cause at a regional and international level.
Remembrance of 1967 must take into account the earlier colonial process. The Palestinian people’s current predicament on the verge of annexation carries with it the international community’s complicity in diluting colonialism to the more preferable military occupation terminology. Calling for an end to military occupation does not eradicate colonialism. On the contrary, the UN is protecting Israel’s colonial process by normalising the steps of forced displacement and appropriation of territory, in the name of Israel’s security concerns.