What we do
On the 25th of May 2021, following months of work from Sadaka, Trócaire, Christian Aid, ICTU, and collaboration from both Government and Opposition, the Dáil has supported a parliamentary motion condemning the de facto annexation of Palestinian land by Israel, brought forward by John Brady TD, Sinn Féin. Simon Coveney, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, supported the motion, stating that "the current escalation of violence has not happened in isolation" and called for the international community to be "honest about what is happening on the ground." Following a vote on Wednesday 26th May, Ireland has become the first country within the EU to recognise de facto annexation, paving the way for others to follow. The full video of the debate can be found here (starts at 3:59:00).
Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is based on a long term plan of annexation of Palestinian territory into the state of Israel. Annexation of territory taken in war, or under threat of war, is illegal. This is a fundamental principle and has the status of a peremptory norm in international law. It is a cornerstone of international peace and security.
Central to Israel’s annexation plan has been the transfer of more than 650,000settlers into Palestinian territory. This unlawful transfer amounts to a war crime under article 8(2)(a)(vii) of the Rome Statute.
The term 'annexation' refers to the forcible acquisition of territory by a State. It is a breach of the longstanding rule of international law that a State cannot acquire the territory of another State by force. This rule is accepted by the international community as fundamental, to which no exception can be made.2
Annexation can take place in two ways. On the one hand, a State can formally extend its powerover territory it has forcibly acquired, such as by passing a law to this effect. This is referred to as de jure annexation, and signals the States intent to formally acquire a permanent title over a territory.
Alternatively, a State can exercise effective control over a territory that it has forcibly acquired, without any accompanying formal declaration. This might involve, for example, the application of certain domestic laws to that territory, or measures, such as population transfer, to alter the territory’s demographics. This is referred to as de facto annexation and is often a precursor to de jure annexation. Importantly, both forms of annexation are equally unlawful under international law.1
The fact that the West Bank has not been formally annexed does not stop Israel from treating it as if it were its own territory, particularly when it comes to the massive resources Israel invests in building illegal settlements and establishing infrastructure to serve their residents. This policy has enabled the establishment of hundreds of settlements, connecting them to Israel through a system of ‘settler only' roads, displacing thousands of Palestinians, and transforming the geography of the West Bank beyond recognition.
1. Annexation of the West Bank: It Has Already Happened (Sadaka Briefing No. 49)
Explainer: Israel, annexation and the West Bank (BBC News, 25 June 2020)
Establishing Guidelines to Determine whether the Legal Status of ‘Area C’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territory represents Annexed Territory under International Law: (Al Haq: 17th July 2020)
Palestinians call on the world to confront annexation (Palestine Chronicle, 4 May 2021)
This Is Ours – And This, Too : Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank (B'Tselem, March 2021)
Annexation of the West Bank: It has already happened (Sadaka Briefing 49: September 2020. [Download pdf])
Establishing Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (UN Publications:October 2018: S. Michael Lynk:, Section III on Annexation. [Download pdf])
‘Two peoples living in the same space, ruled by the same state, but with profoundly unequal rights’ is ‘a vision of a 21st century apartheid.’ (Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, 1 May 2020)
What would formal annexation look like (NBC News, 19 June 2020)
Interactive Map, Israeli Occupation of Palestine (B'Tselem)
Looming Annexation (2020) (PDF)
Breaking the Silence - Annexation (2020) (PDF)