Declassified cabinet meeting minutes show that top Israeli cabinet officials contemplated an ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip and Galilee, rewriting history textbooks in favor of a pro-Zionist version of history, and censoring political speech in newspapers to deal with the fallout of the Six-Day War in 1967.
The material posted to the Israeli archives website shows hundreds of pages of previously classified cabinet meeting minutes, including those between August and December of 1967, which followed closely after the Six-Day War in June. From this archive, Israeli officials demonstrated a lack of direction following the war in which the Israeli military conquered and illegally occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.
Officials initially contemplated the difficulties of administering the illegally occupied lands.
“At some point we will have to decide. There are 600,000 Arabs in these territories now. What will be the status of these 600,000 Arabs?” Prime Minister Levi Eshkol asked.
“I suggest that we don’t come to a vote or a decision today; there’s time to deal with this joy, or better put, there’s time to deal with this trouble,” he said. “But for the record I’m prepared to say this: There’s no reason for the government to determine its position on the future of the West Bank right now. We’ve been through three wars in 20 years; we can go another 20 years without a decision.”
Later documents show that Eshkol felt the pressure of ethnic diversity in the occupied lands which were under the illegal administration of the ethnocentric occupying forces.
“The strip of this country is like a miserable, threatening neck for us, literally stretched out for slaughter,” he said. “I cannot imagine it — how we will organize life in this country when we have 1.4 million Arabs and we are 2.4 million, with 400,000 Arabs already in the country?”
Eshkol and his cabinet later floated a covert ethnic cleansing policy by “working on the establishment of a unit or office that will engage in encouraging Arab emigration.” The prime minister added, “We should deal with this issue quietly, calmly and covertly, and we should work on finding a way from them to emigrate to other countries and not just over the Jordan [River].”
Eventually the cabinet discussed more extreme plans.
“Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” Eshkol said in one meeting. The prime minister also discussed the idea of initiating a war of aggression against Palestinians to force them to leave their ancestral lands.
“Perhaps we can expect another war and then this problem will be solved. But that’s a type of ‘luxury,’ an unexpected solution.”
Realizing the optics of the illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing, Education Minister Zalman Aranne remarked:
“I do not for one minute accept the idea that the world outside will look at the fact that we’re taking everything for ourselves and will say, ‘Bon Appetit,’” he said. “After all in another year or half a year the world will wake up; there’s a world out there and it will ask questions.”
After 50 years, Israel has instituted a “apartheid regime” in Palestine, according to a landmark United Nations report that has since been retracted following political backlash.
Rima Khalaf, the former UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary, affirmed the report’s findings by saying that the report “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”.