(16 December 2020) BADIL Working Paper: Creeping Annexation: A Pillar of the Zionist-Israeli Colonization Process in Palestine

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Bethlehem, 16 December 2020. BADIL releases its 25th working paper, Creeping Annexation: A Pillar of Zionist-Israeli Colonization Process in Palestine. The paper places the most recent developments of the annexation of large spans of the West Bank within the context of the Zionist-Israeli colonization of Mandatory Palestine since the late 19th century.

The paper identifies the prohibition of colonization as a customary law long before the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples [Decolonization Declaration], and concludes on its application to Palestine within its historical borders. Building on waves of decolonization from the 19th century onwards, it pinpoints the existence of legal precedents outlawing colonization as a means of territorial expansion in both state practice and opinio juris. It classifies colonial features of alien subjugation, domination and exploitation, enshrined in the 1960 Decolonization Declaration as prevalent characteristics of the Zionist-Israeli regime in Palestine from the 19th century onwards. It further goes on with determining other colonial features as prohibited under international law prior to 1948, in particular the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, armed action and repressive measures of all kinds directed against the Palestinian people, and the disruption of the Palestinian national unity and the territorial unity of Mandatory Palestine. Departing from this prohibition prior to 1948, it finds that the creation of Israel - a state inherently grounded in colonialism - is per se a violation of the prohibition of colonization under international law. Drawing on the intrinsic connection between the right to self-determination and the principle of territorial integrity, as well as on the principle of uti possidetis juris, the paper shows that the legal status of Palestine and the Palestinian people could only be characterized within the political-legal framework that pre-existed the creation of Israel, namely Mandatory Palestine.

The paper further contextualizes the phenomenon of creeping annexation of the whole of Mandatory Palestine, and of the West Bank in particular, as one pillar of the Zionist-Israeli apartheid-colonial system until today. It describes the gradual advancement of de jure and de facto annexation of all parts of Mandatory Palestine as a strategy to entrench and normalize Israel’s colonial framework. In particular, it sheds light on the current Israeli entrenchment of a situation of de facto annexation through the imposition of facts on the ground to pursue its colonial enterprise in an informal manner. It further presents how Israel has compounded its annexation strategy with apartheid as an essential mainstay for maintaining its system of domination, subjugation and exploitation within the annexed territory.

While calling upon international responsibility, the paper concludes that the normalization of settler-colonialism in Mandatory Palestine, condoned by the inaction of the international community, facilitates and advances Israel’s colonial project, and precipitates the creeping land grab and correlated forcible transfer of the Palestinian people. It calls for the adoption of an apartheid-colonial paradigm as the appropriate framework of analysis of the Palestine Question. Accordingly, it supports that the only viable legal solution to the Palestine predicament must come from the realization of the decolonization of the Mandatory Palestine , as a sine qua non condition for the achievement of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, wherever they are.

The Arabic version of the working paper is forthcoming.