Annexation for Dummies

Many governments around the world, plus the United Nations, and the European Union, are tripping over themselves in their enthusiasm to show the world their hypocrisy by condemning Israel’s possible application of sovereignty or annexation of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. They are acting like this potential event would be something unique. However, we need only go back a mere 72 years in history to discover that annexing territory is something that countries around the world are very good at. Not to mention Israel cannot annex portions of Judea and Samaria because these areas were never legitimately part of another country. But let us review.

In 1948 Israel accept the UN Partition Plan and practically every country in the Arab world joined in invading the newly minted state with the goal of committing another Holocaust. Fortunately, they failed and they were defeated by Israel and driven back to armistice lines that held until 1967. However, Jordan did succeed in capturing most of Judea and Samaria and Jordan formally annexed the ”West Bank” and East Jerusalem on April 24, 1950, giving all residents automatic Jordanian citizenship. West Bank residents had already received the right to claim Jordanian citizenship in December 1949. Jordan’s annexation was considered illegal and even condemned by the Arab League. Only the United Kingdom and Iraq formally recognized the annexation of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the United States, led by wealthy white plantation owners, overthrew the legitimate government of Hawaii and occupied the Hawaiian Islands. In fact the United States Minister to Hawaii organized the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. In 1959 the United States completed its theft of the island kingdom by making Hawaii the 50th state of the United States.

Then in 1993, the US Congress passed a joint resolution apologizing for stealing and annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and it was signed by President Bill Clinton. The resolution and said that “The Congress—on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893, acknowledges the historical significance of this event which resulted in the suppression of the inherent sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people.” The Apology Resolution also “acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaii or through a plebiscite or referendum”.

In the early 18th century the British forced the defeated Spanish to cede Gibraltar to them. However, in the 1950s, Spanish dictator Franco renewed Spain’s claim to sovereignty over Gibraltar. Although Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain under British sovereignty in a 1967 referendum, Spain completely closed the border with Gibraltar and severed all communication links.

In the early 2000s, Britain and Spain were in negotiations over a potential agreement to share sovereignty over Gibraltar. Another referendum was held and this time 99% of the Gibraltarians rejected it. The British government continues to follow the wishes of the Gibraltarians.

In the British referendum to leave the European Union 96% of Gibraltarians voted to remain. Spain renewed calls for joint Spanish–British control of the peninsula; but these suggestions were strongly rebuffed by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister. On October 18, 2018, however, Spain seemed to have reached an agreement with the United Kingdom in relation to its objections to Gibraltar leaving the EU with the UK.

Western Sahara:  On November 1, 1975 Morocco initiated the Green March into Western Sahara; 350,000 unarmed Moroccans converged on southern Morocco and waited for a signal from their King to cross the border in a peaceful march. However, a few days before, on October 31, Moroccan troops invaded Western Sahara. Sovereignty over Western Sahara is contested between Morocco and a group called the Polisario Front and its legal status remains unresolved. The United Nations considers it to be a “non-self-governing territory”. The eastern part of the territory is controlled by a group called the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Although the area it controls has a very small population, estimated to be approximately 30,000, the SADR government has proclaimed two villages in the area, as their temporary capitals.

In July 1974, Turkish forces invaded and captured 3% of Cyprus before a ceasefire was declared. Then the Greek military junta collapsed and was replaced by a democratic government. In August, 1974, the Turks tried again and this invasion resulted in the capture of approximately 37% of the island. A ceasefire was declared in August, 1974.

Around 150,000 people, one-third of the island’s Greek Cypriot population, were ethnically cleansed from the occupied northern part of the island, where Greek Cypriots previously were 80% of the population. A little over a year later in 1975, half the Turkish Cypriot populations, approximately 60,000, were ethnically cleansed from the south to the north. The UN-monitored Green Line still divides Cyprus. In 1983 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus declared independence.  Turkey is the only country that recognizes it. The international community considers the occupation as illegal under international law, amounting to illegal occupation of European Union territory since Cyprus became its member. Despite this, the issue is never mentioned by the EU or the media outside of Greece and Cyprus.

In the late 1980’s war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan in an area called Nagorno-Karabakh.

This area was part of Azerbaijan but the majority of the residents were Armenians who wanted to unite the area with Armenia. As the war progressed, Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet Republics, entangled themselves in protracted, undeclared warfare in mountainous regions that often dissolved into massacres, pogroms and ethnic cleansing.

In the years since the end of the war, a variety of international bodies have declared Armenia’s continued occupation of Azerbaijan land to be illegal. On May 14 2008, thirty-nine countries from the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which called for “the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan”. Almost one hundred countries abstained from voting while seven countries, including the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group, Russia, the United States, and France, voted against it. Armenian leaders have accused Azerbaijan of “exploiting Islam to muster greater international support”. Meanwhile, due to its oil resources, Azerbaijan has spent vast amounts on its military and the region remains unstable till this day.

Last but not least there is Crimea. After the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and the flight of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian President, Vladimir Putin told colleagues that “we must start working on returning Crimea to Russia.” Within days, unmarked forces with local militias took over the Republic of Crimea and its capital Sevastopol. A 2014 referendum on joining Crimea with Russia was supported by a majority of voters according to official counts. The vote was boycotted by many loyal to Ukraine, and denounced as illegitimate by Western governments. The UN General Assembly approved a resolution declaring the vote illegal and invalid. Putin formally annexed Crimea into the Russian Federation. Since Russian control over Crimea was established in 2014, the peninsula has been administered as part of the Russian Federation except for some of the northern parts of the area which are still controlled by Ukraine.

Though Russia controlled the Crimea peninsula, sovereignty was disputed as Ukraine and the majority of the international community considers the annexation illegal. In fact, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling upon nations not to recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea. A range of international sanctions have remained in place against Russia and a number of named individuals as a result of the events of 2014. However, Putin and various Russian officials continue to be wined and dined all over the world and commerce continues between the EU and Russia, as if nothing ever happened.

Unlike all the countries above, Israel took possession of the land it will apply sovereignty to in a defensive war, from a country with no legal right to the land, and allowed the non-Israeli population to significantly increase in population. So as the hypocrites line up one by one to condemn Israel for applying sovereignty to its own citizens on its own land, please be aware that the only thing consistent about International Law is the hypocrisy of the countries who claim something they don’t like violates International Law.

About the Author
The author has worked as a guide at Yad Vashem for almost ten years. To date he has guided almost 800 groups, including delegations from numerous academic institutions from across the globe, official delegations, and many Birthright groups. He frequently is asked by organizations to speak about a variety of topics related to the Holocaust.
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