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CNN: Maps, Land and History: Why 1967 Still Matters

May 24, 2011

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Tim Lister, a writer for CNN, looks at the significance of the change to Israel's border after the Six Day War in 1967.

On the website of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs there is a map -- with a message. The map itself is a basic display of how regional borders looked before the Six Day War in 1967. The message is in the distances drawn from those borders to major Israeli cities.

For example, it's noted that the distance from what was in 1967 the armistice line with Jordan to the Israeli city of Netanya on the Mediterranean was 9 miles; to Beersheeba, 10 miles; and to Tel Aviv, 11 miles. The city of Ashkelon was 7 miles from the edge of the Gaza Strip, then under Egyptian rule.

The point is a simple one: Israel was virtually impossible to defend; any aggressor would try to cut it in half.

That's just what the Arab armies tried to achieve in 1967. On the eve of the war, the Egyptian newspaper al Akhbar noted: "Under the terms of the military agreement signed with Jordan, Jordanian artillery, coordinated with the forces of Egypt and Syria, is in a position to cut Israel in two at Qalqilya, where Israeli territory between the Jordan armistice line and the Mediterranean Sea is only 12 kilometres (7 miles) wide."

It's a point that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed at his White House meeting with President Barack Obama l

ast week.

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