Israeli soldiers throw tear gas canisters at Palestinian demonstrators during a protest in al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank Image Credit: AFP

There’s no spinning it, the annexation of the national territory of one people by another is a felonious violation of international law and an affront to the international community.

The act shocks you because it shows that the perpetrator has no regard for you or for the “law of nations”, those set of rules that since antiquity, from Pharaonic Egypt to Ancient Greece and from Imperial Rome to Colonial Britain, has guided states across the globe and across a broad range of domains, all in the service of regulating international affairs.

In international law, annexation is a no-no, a hostile act directed not only at the victim nation but at all nations. Surely, an act like that should not be allowed to set a precedent.

Looks like the world may soon find the need to save Palestinians from Israel and Israel from itself. A tough call, no?


No wonder then that that opposition to Israel’s plans to annex a large chunk of the occupied West Bank has been massive, triggering outrage and disbelief at the brazenness of it all, not just in the Arab world, the Islamic world and the Third World, but in the European world as well.

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Commensurate consequences

This is evidenced by the fact that recently more than 1,000 former and present members of the European Parliament have signed a letter demanding that Israel should “face commensurate consequences” were it to move ahead with its plan.

In addition to that, individual countries in the EU have, each in its own way, expressed their firm stand about the inadmissibility of annexation of any kind, under any pretext, by Israel.

Among instances attesting to that, take the Belgian parliament which adopted a resolution on June 26 that urged the government to prepare a list of recommendation against Israel if it annexed land beyond its 1967 borders, and the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, said that his government “would not recognise any changes to Israel’s borders set in 1967”

All well and good, but, my, how the world forgets.

The fact of the matter is that Israel’s internationally recognised borders are not those set on the eve of the June War that year but those set by UN Resolution 181 in November 1947 that formalised the establishment of Israel in historic Palestine.

Ancestral patrimony

At the time, the resolution allocated 55 per cent of the country to the Jews, who owned 7 per cent of the land. (When the Balfour Declaration was issued almost exactly thirty years earlier, they had owned a mere 2 per cent.)

In the course of the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, Israel went on, through military conquest, to extend its territory to 78 per cent of the Palestinian people’s ancestral patrimony, leaving them with a 22 per cent remnant in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel’s land grab in 1948 was somehow “accepted” in the armistice agreement concluded between the Arab states and Israel, but was never officially sanctioned by international law.

Thus, by signing the Oslo Accord in 1993, the PLO in effect agreed to give up its people’s claim to 78 per cent of their homeland — a homeland they had inhabited since time immemorial — in return for an independent state on that 22 per cent remnant left to them.

Now Israel, driven by its messianic bent for expansion and by a nod from the current administration in Washington, wants to extend its territory even further still by grabbing a 30 per cent chunk of that remnant, leaving Palestinians with an archipelago of Bantustans subject to its apartheid rule.

Talk about how, when it comes to “the wretched of the earth”, as Frantz Fanon called oppressed peoples helpless at defending themselves against predatory colonisers brisling with military might, justice is slow in giving them due.

No two ways about it, Israeli leaders have given greed, hubris and overreach — not to mention cruelty — a new meaning.

Looks like the world may soon find the need to save Palestinians from Israel and Israel from itself. A tough call, no?

— Fawaz Turki is a journalist, lecturer and author based in Washington. He is the author of The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile.