But as Israelis were celebrating the glorious victory over the Arab Goliath, more sober voices questioning the future of occupied territories and their Palestinian population were practically silenced. 50 years later, the question raised in the immediate wake of the war by Igal Alon and other prominent leaders is still left unanswered: Can Israel continue rule over an alien population of over 4 million Palestinians and remain a democracy? If the chance to establish a sovereign Palestinian state and to separate from the Palestinians is lost due to inability and unwillingness of our respective leaderships to move forward, will the Zionist dream be forever shattered?
Polls show that the majority of Israelis prefer the two state solution over annexing the Palestinian territories along with its population. Unfortunately, an irresponsible and populist Israeli government had convinced many that the conflict can be either “managed” successful or of the illusion that some deal can be reached without making the necessary concessions and reaching a compromise.
In 1967 we, the Israelis, were threatened physically by external threats. Today, as many Arab nation-states disintegrate and the Middle East lies in shambles, Israel is stronger than ever. Our enemies in the region suffer from weakness and disunity. But our state is still threatened—but this time from within.
In 2005, I had a chance to visit Libya. At that time I served as a reporter on Arab affairs. I was given a present that I keep now in my Knesset chamber, a book called Isratin. This is the name that Muammar Qaddafi had coined for a future state that will include both Israelis and Palestinians. If we wish to avoid creating with our own hand an “Isratin” in the place of our beloved country, a home to every Jewish person across the globe, we must act to prevent this outcome. We have to resolve the question that the founding fathers of our young country were unable to answer back in 1967 and determine once and for all the borders of our state, borders that will provide both security and stability. This is our duty—to defend our founding democratic ideals, our state and our Zionist dream. No one has the right to gamble on the future of Israel. It is dangerous and irresponsible. For me, this is a Zionist imperative—to protect the State of Israel and to work constantly for its success, security and growth.
The fateful six days of war in June 1967 changed forever the course of events in Israel and the broader Middle East. Israel didn't choose to fight, but when it had to –Israelis not only fought but crushed their enemies decisively. It is important to remember that a few weeks prior to war the authorities were digging graves, in preparation for mass civilian casualties; at the war’s end the city was dancing hora.
Ksenia Svetlova currently serves as a Member of Knesset in Israel's 20th Knesset, within the Zionist Union party. MK Svetlova is a Ph.D. candidate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.