Research Paper Proposal–Israel’s territorial gains from the Six Day War and their consequences for peace with Egypt and Jordan

After consulting with my professor, I have decided that the previous topic was too broad. I went through literally a dozen other research questions and have decided on the following proposal. Again, if my readers can give any feedback, I would really appreciate it.

For my research paper, I will attempt to ascertain how Israel’s territorial gains in the Six Day War led to the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace accords.

Middle East scholars agree that the Six Day War was a momentous occasion for the region, with ramifications far beyond the capture of territory. Perceptions of threats to security in the Middle East, including to Israel’s very existence, have been radically altered. A lasting peace seems to have been attained between Israel and Egypt, and Israel and Jordan. Another way of framing this question is, how did perceptions of Israel’s territorial acquisitions from the Six Day War affect peace negotiations? The conclusions of this paper will help us understand how Israel’s two major peace agreements were reached and may help us understand the territorial dimensions of similar, future accords.

To answer this question, I will need to determine the consequences of the acquisitions of the Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. In other words, what did Israel’s gains lead to and not lead to? I will also need to look at peace proposals related to territory (“land for peace”) and compare them to the treaties that were eventually signed. This paper will focus almost entirely on the time between the end of the war and the signing of peace treaties, and will not delve into ancient Arab and Jewish territorial claims, except insofar as they affected the parties’ decisions. Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian official positions and perspectives will be an important factor in understanding the extent to which territorial concessions played a role in achieving peace.

Secondary questions therefore include, did Israel’s acquisition of the Sinai lead to its peace accord with Egypt, and if so, how? How were the decisions of leaders such as Anwar al-Sadat and Hussein bin Talal to go to the negotiating table affected by territorial considerations? How important was the captured territory to Israeli leaders? Were they anxious to give it up in return for peace? Did outside actors such as Jimmy Carter, the UN Security Council and the USSR push for territorial bargaining?

In order to understand the influence of Israel’s captured territories on peace, I will divide my essay into the following sections (which may change before the essay is complete):

1)      An introduction to Israel’s territorial acquisitions from the Six Day War and why they are important for answering this question.

2)      A timeline of relevant events between June 10, 1967 and the signing of the peace accords (though this will probably be consigned to an appendix).

3)      Leadership. How did the perspectives of leaders such as Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin on the territorial consequences of the war bring them to the negotiating table? How important was the territory to the leaders? This and the following section could be broken into the subsections of Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

4)      Peace. How are land clauses in proposals for peace similar to those of the treaties eventually signed? What happened during the negotiations focused on land and how were they resolved?

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