Territorial Acquisitions Essay Format

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This is a United States territorial acquisitions and conquests list, beginning with American independence. Note that this list primarily concerns land the United States of America acquired from other nation-states.

History of the United States of America[edit]

Main article: History of the Americas

Control over North America (1750–2008)

Further information: Territorial evolution of North America since 1763

See also: European colonization of the Americas and First Nations

1783–1853[edit]

The 1783 Treaty of Paris with Great Britain defined the original borders of the United States. It generally stretched from the Eastern Seaboard to the Mississippi River in the west. There were ambiguities in the treaty regarding the exact border with Canada to the north that led to disputes that were resolved by the Webster–Ashburton Treaty in 1842.[1] Beginning in the late 18th century, the new nation organized areas west of the Original thirteen states into several United States territories, setting a template for future expansion.

Louisiana Purchase[edit]

The Louisiana Purchase in 1803, was negotiated with Napoleon during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson; the territory was acquired from France for $15 million (equivalent to $245 million in present-day terms). A small portion of this land was ceded to Britain in 1818 in exchange for the Red River Basin. More of this land was ceded to Spain in 1819 with the Florida Purchase, but was later reacquired through Texas annexation and Mexican Cession.[2]

West Florida[edit]

West Florida was declared to be a U.S. possession in 1810 by President James Madison after the territory had declared its independence from Spain.[3] Madison ordered the U.S. Army to take control. Six weeks later, the army entered and occupied the capital, St. Francisville, putting an end to the republic after 74 days of independence. Spain did not relinquish its claim to sovereignty (see West Florida Controversy) until ratification of the Adams–Onís Treaty. General Andrew Jackson personally accepted the delivery of West Florida from its Spanish governor on July 17, 1821.[4]

Red River[edit]

The parts of Rupert's Land and the Red River Colony south of the 49th parallel in the basin of the Red River of the North were acquired in 1818 from Britain under the Anglo-American Convention of 1818.

East Florida[edit]

The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819 with Spain resulted in Spain's cession of East Florida and the Sabine Free State and Spain's surrender of any claims to the Oregon Country. Article III of the treaty, when properly surveyed, resulted in the acquisition of a small part of central Colorado.[5]

Along Canada–US border[edit]

Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 with Britain split the disputed territory in Maine and New Brunswick and finalized the border with Canada,[6] including the disputed Indian Stream territory. In 1850 Britain ceded to the U.S. less than one acre of underwater rock (Horseshoe Reef) in Lake Erie near Buffalo for a lighthouse.[7]

Texas[edit]

Texas Annexation of 1845: The independent Republic of Texas long sought to join the U.S., despite Mexican claims and the warning by Mexican leader Antonio López de Santa Anna that this would be "equivalent to a declaration of war against the Mexican Republic." Congress approved the annexation of Texas on February 28, 1845. On December 29, 1845, Texas became the 28th state. Texas had claimed New Mexico east of the Rio Grande but had only made one unsuccessful attempt to occupy it; New Mexico was captured by the U.S. Army in August 1846 and then administered separately from Texas. Mexico acknowledged the loss of territory in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848.

Oregon Territory[edit]

Oregon Country, the territory of North America west of the Rockies to the Pacific, was jointly controlled by the U.S. and Britain following the Anglo-American Convention of 1818 until June 15, 1846 when the Oregon Treaty divided the territory at the 49th parallel (see Oregon boundary dispute). The San Juan Islands were claimed and jointly occupied by the U.S. and the U.K. from 1846–72 due to ambiguities in the treaty (see Northwestern Boundary Dispute). Arbitration led to the sole U.S. possession of the San Juan Islands since 1872.

Mexican Cession[edit]

Mexican Cession lands were captured in the Mexican–American War in 1846–48, and ceded by Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, where Mexico agreed to the present Mexico–United States border except for the later Gadsden Purchase. The United States paid $15 million (equivalent to $394 million in present-day terms) and agreed to pay claims made by American citizens against Mexico which amounted to more than $3 million (equivalent to $79 million today).

Gadsden Purchase[edit]

In the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, the United States purchased a strip of land along the Mexico–United States border for $10 million (equivalent to $294 million in present-day terms), now in New Mexico and Arizona. The territory was also bought as Americans were passing through the land west to California. After the American Mexican War, over the dispute of border claims, American bought the land to prevent future conflict. Few historians would argue the territory was intended for a southern transcontinental railroad.

Since 1853[edit]

Alaska[edit]

Alaska Purchase from the Russian Empire for $7.2 million (2 cents per acre)[8] on March 30, 1867 (equivalent to $126 million in present-day terms), as a vital refueling station for ships trading with Asia. The land went through several administrative changes before becoming an organized territory on May 11, 1912, and the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.

Hawaii[edit]

Hawaii and Outlying Islands

  • In 1959, 94% of Hawaii's residents voted to relinquish all land claims (proposition 2) to the United States and become a state.

The Kingdom of Hawaii was closely linked by missionary work and trade to the U.S. by the 1880s. In 1893 business leaders overthrew the Queen of Hawaii and sought annexation. President Grover Cleveland strongly disapproved, so Hawaii set up an independent republic, the Republic of Hawaii. Southern Democrats in Congress strongly opposed a non-white addition. President William McKinley, a Republican, secured a Congressional resolution in 1898, and the small republic joined the U.S. All its citizens became full U.S. citizens. One factor was the need for advanced naval bases to fend off Japanese ambitions.[citation needed] The Hawaiian Islands officially became an incorporated territory of the U.S. in 1900. Following 94% voter approval of the Admission of Hawaii Act, on August 21, 1959 the Territory of Hawaii became the state of Hawaii, the 50th state.

With Hawaii came two remote coral atolls: the Palmyra Atoll which had been annexed by the U.S. in 1859, abandoned, then claimed in 1862 by the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the Stewart Islands, which had joined the Kingdom a few years before Palmyra. At Hawaiian statehood in 1959, Palmyra and arguably the Stewarts were excluded from the new state. Palmyra remained an incorporated U.S. territory, while the Stewarts were claimed and are now controlled by the Solomon Islands.[9]

Spanish colonies[edit]

Main article: Spanish–American War

Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines (for which the United States compensated Spain $20 million, equivalent to $588 million in present-day terms), were ceded by Spain after the Spanish–American War in the 1898 Treaty of Paris. Spain relinquished all claim of sovereignty over Cuba, but did not cede it to the United States, so it became a protectorate. All four of these areas were under United States Military Government (USMG) for extended periods. Cuba became an independent nation in 1902, and the Philippines became an independent nation in 1946.

This era also saw the first scattered protests against American imperialism. Noted Americans such as Mark Twain spoke out forcefully against these ventures. Opponents of the war, including Twain and Andrew Carnegie, organized themselves into the American Anti-Imperialist League.

During this same period the American people continued to strongly chastise the European powers for their imperialism. The Second Boer War was especially unpopular in the United States and soured Anglo-American relations. The anti-imperialist press would often draw parallels between the U.S. in the Philippines and the British in the Second Boer War.[10]

Cuba[edit]

Under the 1898 Treaty of Paris, Spain relinquished all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba, with the island to be occupied by the United States. Under the Teller Amendment Congress had already decided against annexation. Cuba gained formal independence on 20 May 1902. Under the new Cuban constitution, however, the U.S. retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and to supervise its finances and foreign relations through the Platt Amendment;[11] this, however, was later renounced as part of Franklin Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy.[11] Under the Platt Amendment (1901), Cuba also agreed to lease to the U.S. the naval base at Guantánamo Bay.

The naval base occupies land which the United States leased from Cuba in 1903 "... for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations." The two governments later agreed that, "So long as the United States of America shall not abandon the said naval station of Guantanamo or the two Governments shall not agree to a modification of its present limits, the station shall continue to have the territorial area that it now has, with the limits that it has on the date of the signature of the present Treaty."[12][13]

Puerto Rico[edit]

On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States with a landing at Guánica. As an outcome of the war, the Jones–Shafroth Act granted all the inhabitants of Puerto Rico U.S. citizenship in 1917. The U.S. granted Puerto Ricans the right to democratically elect their own governor in 1948. In 1950, the Truman Administration allowed for a democratic referendum in Puerto Rico to determine whether Puerto Ricans desired to draft their own local constitution without affecting the unincorporated territory status with the U.S.[14] A local constitution was approved by a Constitutional Convention on February 6, 1952, ratified by the U.S. Congress, approved by President Truman on July 3 of that year, and proclaimed by Gov. Muñoz Marín on July 25, 1952, the anniversary of the 1898 arrival of U.S. troops. Puerto Rico adopted the name of Estado Libre Asociado (literally translated as "Free Associated State"), officially translated into English as Commonwealth, for its body politic.[15][16]

Guam[edit]

In Guam, settlement by foreign ethnic groups was small at first. After World War II showed the strategic value of the island, construction of a huge military base began along with a large influx of people from other parts of the world. Guam today has a very mixed population of 164,000. The indigenous Chamorros make up 37% of the population. The rest of the population consists mostly of white Americans and Filipinos, with smaller groups of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Micronesians, Vietnamese and Indians. Guam today is almost totally Americanized. The situation is somewhat similar to that in Hawaii, but attempts to change Guam's status as an 'unincorporated' U.S. territory have yet to meet with success.

Philippines[edit]

Main articles: History of the Philippines (1898–1946) and Philippine–American War

The Philippine Revolution against Spain began in April 1896. The Spanish–American War came to the Philippines on May 1, 1898, when the United States Navy's Asiatic Squadron, commanded by Commodore George Dewey, defeated the Spanish Pacific Squadron under AdmiralPatricio Montojo y Pasarón during the Battle of Manila Bay. On June 12, Philippine revolutionaries declared independence and establishment of the First Philippine Republic. On December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish–American War was signed. The treaty transferred control of the Philippines from Spain to the United States. This agreement was not recognized by the Philippine revolutionaries, who declared war against the United States on June 2, 1899.[17] The Philippine–American War ensued. In 1901, Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the Malolos Republic, was captured and pledged his allegiance to the American government.[18] The U.S. unilaterally declared an end to the conflict in 1902. Scattered fighting continued, however, until 1913.

The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 provided for the establishment of a bicameral legislature composed of an upper house consisting of the Philippine Commission, an appointed body with both American and Filipino members. and a popularly elected lower house, the Philippine Assembly. The Philippines became a U.S. colony in the fashion of Europe's New Imperialism,[citation needed] with benevolent colonial practices. English joined Spanish as an official language, and English language education was made compulsory. In 1916, the United States passed the Philippine Autonomy Act and committed itself to granting independence to the Philippines "as soon as a stable government can be established therein."[19] As a step to full independence in 1946, partial autonomy as a Commonwealth was granted in 1935.

Preparation for a fully sovereign state was interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II. The United States suffered a total of 62,514 casualties, including 13,973 deaths in its attempt to liberate the Philippines from Imperial Japanese rule during the hard-fought Philippines campaign from 1944–1945. Full independence came with the recognition of Philippine sovereignty by the U.S. in 1946.

Wake Island[edit]

Wake Island was annexed as empty territory by the United States in 1899 (the claim is currently disputed by the Marshall Islands).

American Samoa[edit]

Germany, the United States, and Britain colonized the Samoan Islands. The nations came into conflict in the Second Samoan Civil War and the nations resolved their issues, establishing American Samoa as per the Treaty of Berlin, 1899. The U.S. took control of its allotted region on June 7, 1900, with the Deed of Cession. Tutuila Island and Aunuu Island were ceded by their chiefs in 1900, then added to American Samoa. Manua was annexed in 1904, then added to American Samoa. Swains Island was annexed in 1925 (occupied since 1856), then added to American Samoa. (The claim is currently disputed by Tokelau, a colonial territory of New Zealand.) American Samoa was under the control of the U.S. Navy from 1900 to 1951. American Samoa was made a formal territory in 1929. From 1951 until 1977, Territorial Governors were appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. Immigration of Americans was never as strong as it was, for instance, in Hawaii; indigenous Samoans make up 89% of the population. The islands have been reluctant to separate from the U.S. in any manner.

Dominican Republic[edit]

The Annexation of Santo Domingo was an attempted treaty during the later Reconstruction Era, initiated by United States President Ulysses S. Grant in 1869, to annex "Santo Domingo" (as the Dominican Republic was then commonly known) as a United States territory, with the promise of eventual statehood. President Grant feared some European power would take the island in violation of the Monroe Doctrine. He privately thought annexation would be a safety valve for African Americans who were suffering persecution in the US, but he did not include this in his official messages. Grant speculated that the acquisition of Santo Domingo would help bring about the end of slavery in Cuba and elsewhere. Militarily he wanted a US naval port in the Dominican Republic which would also serve as protection for a projected canal across Nicaragua.

On January 10, 1870 President Grant formally submitted Sec. Fish's Dominican Republic annexation treaty to the U.S. Senate. The treaty was stalled in the Senate until Sen. Sumner's Foreign Relations Committee started hearings in mid February, 1870. On 19 February, a referendum was held in the Dominican Republic, in which nearly 99% of the votes cast were in favor of the annexation. Sec. Fish noted that the Senate was reluctant to pass any measures initiated by the Executive Branch. Sen. Sumner allowed the treaty to be debated openly on the Committee without giving his own opinion. However, on March 15, Senator Sumner's Foreign Relations Committee in a closed session voted to oppose the treaty 5 to 2. On March 24, in another closed session, Sen. Sumner came out strongly against the treaty. Sen. Sumner opposed the treaty believing annexation would be expensive, launch an American empire in the Caribbean, and would diminish independent Afro-Hispanic and African creole republics in the Western Hemisphere. Grant met with many Senators on Capitol Hill hoping to rally support for the Treaty, however, to no avail. Grant refused the suggestion that the treaty drop the Dominican statehood clause. Finally on June 30, 1870 the Senate defeated the Dominican Republic Annexation treaty by a vote of 28 to 28. Eighteen Senators had joined Sen. Sumner to defeat the Dominican annexation treaty.

The first United States occupation of the Dominican Republic lasted from 1916 to 1924. It was one of the many interventions in Latin America undertaken by the military forces of the United States. On May 13, 1916, Rear Admiral William B. Caperton forced the Dominican Republic's Secretary of War Desiderio Arias, who had seized power from Juan Isidro Jimenes Pereyra, to leave Santo Domingo by threatening the city with naval bombardment.

From the start of the intervention until the Marines withdrew in 1924, they were in almost continuous actions on both the squad and platoon levels, fighting numerous small-unit actions with elusive bandits. Despite the ability of the Marines to bring a large amount of firepower to bear against the bandits from both the ground and the air, the leathernecks had their share of problems as well. Sometimes the enemy would successfully ambush a lone Marine patrol, killing all or most of its members, and would scatter before reinforcements arrived on the scene.

Panama Canal Zone[edit]

The Panama Canal Zone was an unorganized US territory located within the Republic of Panama. It was established under the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty in 1903 and disestablished in 1979 under the Torrijos–Carter Treaties. Panama gained full control over the Panama Canal in 1999.

Virgin Islands[edit]

A referendum on transferring ownership from Denmark to the United States was held on 9 January 1868 on the islands of Sankt Jan and Sankt Thomas, two of three main islands in the Danish West Indies. Of the votes cast, 98% were in favor of the transfer, but it never materialized. A second referendum was held in all three islands on 17 August 1916, once again with overwhelming support for the transfer.

In 1917, the United States purchased the former Danishcolony of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas, which is now the U.S. Virgin Islands. The United States—which had made an earlier approach in 1902—purchased these islands because they feared that the islands might be seized as a submarine base during World War I. After several months of secret negotiations, a sales price of $25 million was agreed. A non-binding referendum in Denmark held in late 1916 confirmed the decision to sell by a wide margin. The U.S. took possession of the islands on March 31, 1917 a few days before the U.S entered the war. The deal was ratified and finalized on January 17, 1917, when the United States and Denmark exchanged their respective treaty ratifications. The territory was renamed the U.S. Virgin Islands.[20] U.S. citizenship was granted to the inhabitants of the islands in 1927.

Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands[edit]

The Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) was a United Nations trust territory in Micronesia (western Pacific) administered by the United States from July 18, 1947, comprising the former League of Nations Mandate administered by Japan and taken by the U.S. in 1944. The various island groupings in the Trust Territory were later divided up. The Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia achieved independence on October 21, 1986. Palau did so in 1994. All three nations signed Compacts of Free Association with the United States.

Mexican boundary[edit]

  • The Boundary Treaty of 1970 transferred 823 acres (3.33 km2) of Mexican territory to the U.S., in areas near Presidio and Hidalgo, Texas, to build flood control channels. In exchange, the U.S. ceded 2,177 acres (8.81 km2) to Mexico, including five parcels near Presidio, the Horcon Tract containing the little town of Rio Rico, Texas, and Beaver Island near Roma, Texas. The last of these transfers occurred in 1977.
  • On November 24, 2009, the U.S. ceded 6 islands in the Rio Grande to Mexico, totaling 107.81 acres (0.4363 km2). At the same time, Mexico ceded 3 islands and 2 cuts to the U.S., totaling 63.53 acres (0.2571 km2). This transfer, which had been pending for 20 years, was the first application of Article III of the 1970 Boundary Treaty.
  • The Chamizal Treaty of 1963, which ended a hundred-year dispute between the two countries near El Paso, Texas, transferred 630 acres (2.5 km2) from the U.S. to Mexico in 1967. In return, Mexico transferred 264 acres (1.07 km2) to the U.S.
  • The Rio Grande Rectification Treaty of 1933 straightened and stabilized the 155 miles (249 km) of river boundary through the highly developed El Paso-Juárez Valley. Numerous parcels of land (174) were transferred between the two countries during the construction period, 1935–1938. At the end, each nation had ceded an equal area of land (2,560.5 acres (10.362 km2)) to the other.[21][22]
  • The Banco Convention of 1905 resulted in many exchanges of bancos (land surrounded by bends in the river that became segregated from either country by a cutoff, often due to rapid accretion or avulsion of the alluvial channel) between the two nations, most often in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Under the treaty, the following transfers involving Texas occurred from 1910–1976:[23]
Year# BancosAcres to USAAcres to MexicoNet totalYear# BancosAcres to USAAcres to MexicoNet total
1910575,357.23,101.22,2561942163.3063.3
1912311,094.42,343.0−1,248.619434482.9100.5382.4
1928423,089.91,407.81,682.1194414253.7166.287.5
1930314,685.6984.33,701.3194516240.9333.5−92.6
19314158.4328.7−170.319461185.80185.8
19322159.70159.719492190.2281.9−91.7
193310122.1−122.119561508.30508.3
19341278.10278.1196810154.6−154.6
19391240.20240.2197021449.81,881.8−1,432
194020209.5−209.51976649.2049.2
19416224.5246.9−22.4Total24517,712 acres (71.68 km2)11,662 acres (47.19 km2)6,050 acres (24.5 km2)
  • In 1927 under the same 1905 Convention, the U.S. acquired two bancos from Mexico at the Colorado River border with Arizona. Farmers Banco, covering 583.4 acres (2.361 km2), a part of the Cocopah Indian Reservation at 32°37′27″N114°46′45″W / 32.62417°N 114.77917°W / 32.62417; -114.77917, was ceded to the U.S. with controversy.[24] Fain Banco (259 acres (1.05 km2)) at 32°31′32″N114°47′28″W / 32.52556°N 114.79111°W / 32.52556; -114.79111 also became U.S. soil.
  • Proposed: Based on aerial surveys in 2008, there are 138 cases where the widest channel of normal flow of the Rio Grande has shifted from previous surveys. Therefore, the International Boundary Line is to be changed under Article III of the 1970 Boundary Treaty. The result is 138 proposed transfers of territory that remain pending further evaluation and approval by the International Boundary and Water Commission and the two governments. Upon resolution, the U.S. is to cede 7 islands and 60 cuts in the Rio Grande to Mexico, totaling 1,251.2 acres (5.063 km2), while Mexico is to cede 3 islands and 68 cuts to the U.S., totaling 1,275.9 acres (5.163 km2).

Canada[edit]

In 1925, to correct an unintended effect from an earlier treaty, the U.S. ceded to Canada two enclaves comprising two and one-half acres of water territory in the Lake of the Woods.[7][25]

Northern Mariana Islands[edit]

The Northern Mariana Islands were part of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands but decided in the 1970s not to seek independence. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in political union with the United States was established in 1978.

Ryukyu Islands[edit]

The United States Military Government of the Ryukyu Islands (琉球列島米国軍政府 Ryūkyū-rettō Beikoku Gunseifu) was the government in Okinawa, Japan from 1945 to 1950, whereupon it was replaced by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands from 1950 until 1972.

South Korea[edit]

The United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK; Korean: 재조선 미육군 사령부 군정청; Hanja: 在朝鮮美陸軍司令部軍政廳) was the official ruling body of the southern half of the Korean Peninsula from September 8, 1945 to August 15, 1948.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^Jonathan R. Dull, A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution (1987). ch 17–20
  2. ^Junius P. Rodriguez, The Louisiana Purchase: A Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia (2002)
  3. ^Samuel, C. Hyde Jr (2010). "Consolidating the Revolution: Factionalism and Finesse in the West Florida Revolt, 1810". Louisiana History. 51 (3): 261–283. 
  4. ^Ireland, Gordon (1941). Boundaries, possessions, and conflicts in Central and North America and the Caribbean. New York: Octagon Books. p. 298. 
  5. ^"Treaty Text from the Avalon Project". Retrieved November 7, 2006. 
  6. ^Francis M. Carroll, "The Passionate Canadians: The Historical Debate about the Eastern Canadian-American Boundary," New England Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 83–101 in JSTOR
  7. ^ abBoggs, Samuel Whittemore (1940). International Boundaries: A Study of Boundary Functions and Problems. Columbia University Press. p. 48. Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  8. ^Student Information, Office of Economic Development, State of Alaska, archived from the original on 2009-02-08, retrieved 2009-01-17 
  9. ^"U.S. Insular Areas: Application of the U.S. Constitution" (pdf). Report to the Chairman, Committee on Resources, House of Representatives. United States General Accounting Office. November 1997. Page 39, footnote 2.
  10. ^Miller 1984, p. 163 "... Will Show No Mercy Real Warfare Ahead For Filipino Rebels Kitchener Plan Adopted The Administration Weary of Protracted Hostilities.' The reference to Kitchener made eminently clear MacArthur's intent, as the British general's tactics in South Africa had already earned ..."
  11. ^ ab"Good Neighbor Policy". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  12. ^"Agreement Between the United States and Cuba for the Lease of Lands for Coaling and Naval stations". The Avalon project, Yale Law School. February 23, 1903. Archived from the original on June 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  13. ^"Treaty Between the United States of America and Cuba". The Avalon project, Yale Law School. May 29, 1934. Archived from the original on June 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  14. ^Act of July 3, 1950, Ch. 446, 64 Stat. 319.
  15. ^Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico – in Spanish (Spanish)Archived 2011-11-14 at the Wayback Machine..
  16. ^Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico – in English (English translation).
  17. ^Pedro Paterno's Proclamation of War, MSC Schools, Philippines, June 2, 1899, retrieved 2007-10-17 
  18. ^Aguinaldo's Proclamation of Formal Surrender to the United States, Philippine Culture, April 19, 1901, retrieved December 5, 2009 
  19. ^Philippine Autonomy Act (Jones Law), Corpus Juris, August 28, 1916, archived from the original(– Scholar search) on June 12, 2008, retrieved 2008-07-07 
  20. ^Today in History: March 31 : Virgin Islands, U.S. Library of Congress, retrieved 2009-12-04 
  21. ^International Boundary and Water Commission. "Minutes 144"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  22. ^International Boundary and Water Commission. "Minutes 158"(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  23. ^Mueller, Jerry E. (1975). Restless River, International Law and the Behavior of the Rio Grande. Texas Western Press. p. 64. ISBN 9780874040500. 
  24. ^Decisions of the Department of the Interior in cases relating to the public lands: 1927–1954. United States. Department of the Interior. Washington. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 25, 337. Retrieved 2013-07-25. 
  25. ^"Map of the vicinity of the northwesternmost point of Lake of the Woods". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Stephen A. Flanders. Dictionary of American Foreign Affairs (1992)
  • Glenn P. Hastedt, Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy (2004)
  • Miller, Stuart Creighton (1984), Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899–1903, Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-03081-9
Census Bureau map depicting territorial acquisitions and dates of statehood, probably created in the 1970s
Map of the United States and directly-controlled territory at its greatest extent from 1898–1902, after the Spanish–American War
Map of current U.S. states that are direct successor states of the original Thirteen Colonies that declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. Indirect successor states (Maine, Kentucky, West Virginia), the District of Columbia and states that acceded to the union after the American Revolutionary War are not included
National Atlas map (circa 2005) depicting territorial acquisitions.
A government map, probably created in the mid-20th century, that depicts a simplified history of territorial acquisitions within the continental United States
1833 Eagle Map of the U.S.
Post-Spanish–American War map of "Greater America".

The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. Originally, those territories included the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip and Jordanian-annexed West Bank. The first use of the term 'territories occupied' was in United Nations Security CouncilResolution 242 following the Six-Day War in 1967, which called for "the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East" to be achieved by "the application of both the following principles: ... Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict ... Termination of all claims or states of belligerency" and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries.

From 1967 to 1982, the four areas were governed under the Israeli Military Governorate (also named as Occupied Arab territories[citation needed] by the UN). The IMG was dissolved in 1982, after the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. In the process, Israel handed the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, the Golan Heights was incorporated into the Northern District by the Golan Heights Law, and West Bank continued to be administrated via the Israeli Civil Administration. Despite dissolving the military government, in line with Egyptian demands, the term Israeli-occupied territories remains in use, referring to the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Western Golan Heights. Between 1998 and 2012, the term Palestinian territories, Occupied was used to refer to territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the "Occupying Power".[3] UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called Israel's occupation "an affront to international law."[4] The Israeli High Court of Justice has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under "belligerent occupation".[5] According to Talia Sasson, the High Court of Justice in Israel, with a variety of different justices sitting, has repeatedly stated for more than four decades that international law applies to Israel's presence in the West Bank.[6] Israeli governments have preferred the term "disputed territories" in the case of the West Bank.[7][8] Officially Israel maintains that the West Bank is disputed territory.[9]

Israel asserts that since the disengagement of Israel from Gaza in 2005, Israel no longer occupies the Gaza Strip.[10] However, as it retained certain control of Gaza's airspace and coastline, as of 2012[update] it continued to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly[11] and some countries and various human rights organizations.[12][13][14][15]

Overview

The significance of the designation of these territories as occupied territory is that certain legal obligations fall on the occupying power under international law. Under international law there are certain laws of war governing military occupation, including the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention.[16] One of those obligations is to maintain the status quo until the signing of a peace treaty, the resolution of specific conditions outlined in a peace treaty, or the formation of a new civilian government.[17]

Israel disputes whether, and if so to what extent, it is an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian territories and as to whether Israeli settlements in these territories are in breach of Israel's obligations as an occupying power and constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and whether the settlements constitute war crimes.[18][19] In 2015, over 800,000 Israelis resided over the 1949 Armistice Lines, constituting nearly 13% of Israel's Jewish population.[20]

Sinai Peninsula

Main article: Sinai Peninsula

Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War. It established settlements along the Gulf of Aqaba and in the northeast portion, just below the Gaza Strip. It had plans to expand the settlement of Yamit into a city with a population of 200,000,[23] though the actual population of Yamit did not exceed 3,000.[24] The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in stages beginning in 1979 as part of the Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty. As required by the treaty, Israel evacuated Israeli military installations and civilian settlements prior to the establishment of "normal and friendly relations" between it and Egypt.[25] Israel dismantled eighteen settlements, two air force bases, a naval base, and other installations by 1982, including the only oil resources under Israeli control. The evacuation of the civilian population, which took place in 1982, was done forcefully in some instances, such as the evacuation of Yamit. The settlements were demolished, as it was feared that settlers might try to return to their homes after the evacuation.[citation needed] Since 1982, the Sinai Peninsula has not been regarded as occupied territory.

South Lebanon

Main article: Southern Lebanon

The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon took place after Israel invaded Lebanon during the 1982 Lebanon War and subsequently retained its forces to support the Christian South Lebanon Army in Southern Lebanon. In 1982, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and allied Free Lebanon Army Christian militias seized large sections of Lebanon, including the capital of Beirut, amid the hostilities of the wider Lebanese Civil War. Later, Israel withdrew from parts of the occupied area between 1983 and 1985, but remained in partial control of the border region known as the South Lebanon Security Belt, initially in coordination with the self-proclaimed Free Lebanon State, which executed a limited authority over portions of southern Lebanon until 1984, and later with the South Lebanon Army (transformed from Free Lebanon Army), until the year 2000. Israel's stated purpose for the Security Belt was to create a space separating its northern border towns from terrorists residing in Lebanon.

During the stay in the security belt, the IDF held many positions and supported the SLA. The SLA took over daily life in the security zone, initially as the official force of the Free Lebanon State and later as an allied militia. Notably, the South Lebanon Army controlled the prison in Khiam. In addition, United Nations (UN) forces and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were deployed to the security belt (from the end of Operation Litani in 1978).

The strip was a few miles wide, and consisted of about 10% of the total territory of Lebanon, which housed about 150,000 people who lived in 67 villages and towns made up of Shiites, Maronites and Druze (most of whom lived in the town of Hasbaya). In the central zone of the Strip was the Maronite town Marjayoun, which was the capital of the security belt. Residents remaining in the security zone had many contacts with Israel, many of whom have worked there and received various services from Israel.

Before the Israeli election in May 1999 the prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, promised that within a year all Israeli forces would withdraw from Lebanon. When negotiation efforts failed between Israel and Syria—the goal of the negotiations was to bring a peace agreement between Israel and Lebanon as well, due to Syrian occupation of Lebanon until 2005—Barak led the withdrawal of the IDF to the Israeli border on 24 May 2000. No soldiers were killed or wounded during the redeployment to the internationally recognized border of Blue Line.

Golan Heights

Main article: Golan Heights

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. A ceasefire was signed on 11 June 1967 and the Golan Heights came under Israeli military administration.[26] Syria rejected UNSC Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, which called for the return of Israeli-occupied State territories in exchange for peaceful relations. Israel had accepted Resolution 242 in a speech to the Security Council on 1 May 1968. In March 1972, Syria "conditionally" accepted Resolution 242,[citation needed] and in May 1974, the Agreement on Disengagement between Israel and Syria was signed.

In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Syria attempted to recapture the Golan Heights militarily, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights under Israeli control, while returning a narrow demilitarized zone to Syrian control. A United Nations observation force was established in 1974 as a buffer between the sides.[27] By Syrian formal acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 338,[28] which set out the cease-fire at the end of the Yom Kippur War, Syria also accepted Resolution 242.[29]

On 14 December 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli administration and law to the territory. Israel has expressly avoided using the term "annexation" to describe the change of status. However, the UN Security Council has rejected the de facto annexation in UNSC Resolution 497, which declared it as "null and void and without international legal effect",[30] and consequently continuing to regard the Golan Heights as an Israeli-occupied territory. The measure has also been criticized by other countries, either as illegal or as not being helpful to the Middle East peace process.[citation needed]

Syria wants the return of the Golan Heights, while Israel has maintained a policy of "land for peace" based on Resolution 242. The first high-level public talks aimed at a resolution of the Syria–Israel conflict were held at and after the multilateral Madrid Conference of 1991. Throughout the 1990s several Israeli governments negotiated with Syria's president Hafez Al-Assad. While serious progress was made, they were unsuccessful.

In 2004, there were 34 settlements in the Golan Heights, populated by around 18,000 people.[31] Today, an estimated 20,000 Israeli settlers and 20,000 Syrians live in the territory.[27] All inhabitants are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which would entitle them to an Israeli driver's license and enable them to travel freely in Israel.[citation needed] The non-Jewish residents, who are mostly Druze, have nearly all declined to take Israeli citizenship.[27][32]

In the Golan Heights there is another area occupied by Israel, namely the Shebaa farms. Syria and Lebanon have claimed that the farms belong to Lebanon and in 2007 a UN cartographer came to the conclusion that the Shebaa farms do actually belong to Lebanon (contrary to the belief held by Israel). UN then said that Israel should relinquish the control of this area.[33]

Palestinian territories

Main article: Palestinian territories

See also: Political status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Background

Both of these territories were part of Mandate Palestine, and both have populations consisting primarily of PalestiniansArabs, including significant numbers of refugees who fled or were expelled from Israel and territory Israel controlled[34] after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Today, Palestinians make up around half of Jordan's population.

Jordan occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967, annexing it in 1950 and granting Jordanian citizenship to the residents in 1954 (the annexation claims and citizenship grants were rescinded in 1988 when Jordan acknowledged the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people). Egypt administered the Gaza Strip from 1948 to 1967 but did not annex it or make Gazans Egyptian citizens.[35]

West Bank

Main article: West Bank

The West Bank was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but the West Bank was occupied by Transjordan after the 1948 war. In April 1950, Jordan annexed the West Bank,[36] but this was recognized only by the United Kingdom and Pakistan. (see 1949 Armistice Agreements, Green Line)

In 1967, the West Bank came under Israeli military administration. Israel retained the mukhtar (mayoral) system of government inherited from Jordan, and subsequent governments began developing infrastructure in Arab villages under its control. (see Palestinians and Israeli law, International legal issues of the conflict, Palestinian economy)

Since the Israel – Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, most of the Palestinian population and cities came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has frequently redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration in various parts of the two territories. On July 31, 1988, Jordan renounced its claims to the West Bank for the PLO.[22]

In 2000, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier, within the West Banks, separating Israel and several of its settlements, as well as a significant number of Palestinians, from the remainder of the West Bank. State of Israel cabinet approved a route to construct separation barrier whose total length will be approximately 760 km (472 mi) built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or "Green Line" between Israel and Palestinian West Bank.[37] 12% of the West Bank area is on the Israel side of the barrier.[38]

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the barrier violates international law.[39] It claimed that "Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall".[40] However, Israel government derived its justification for constructing this barrier with Prime Minister Ehud Barak stating that it is "essential to the Palestinian nation in order to foster its national identity and independence without being dependent on the State of Israel".[41] The Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, stated that Israel has been holding the areas of Judea and Samaria in belligerent occupation, since 1967. The court also held that the normative provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation are applicable. The Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 were both cited.[5]

About 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank along the Israeli West Bank barrier (and a further 200,000 live in East Jerusalem and 50,000 in the former Israeli–Jordanian no-man's land).[citation needed] The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical and educational services in Israel,[42][42] restricted access to water sources, and economic effects. Regarding the violation of freedom of Palestinians, in a 2005 report, the United Nations stated that:[47] ...it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. The route inside the West Bank severs communities, people's access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In addition, plans for the Barrier's exact route and crossing points through it are often not fully revealed until days before construction commences.[43] This has led to considerable anxiety among Palestinians about how their future lives will be impacted...The land between the Barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns.[44]

On Feb 6, 2017, The Knesset passed the controversial Regulation Law, which aimed at retroactively legalizing 2,000 to 4,000 Israeli settlements in Area C.[45] On Feb 8, the law was appealed at the Israeli Supreme Court.[46]

Gaza Strip

Main article: Gaza Strip

Gaza Strip was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt after the 1948 war.

Between 1948 and 1967, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration, being officially under the jurisdiction of the All-Palestine Government until in 1959 it was merged into the United Arab Republic, de facto becoming under direct Egyptian military governorship.

Between 1967 and 1993, the Gaza Strip was under Israeli military administration. In March 1979, Egypt renounced all claims to the Gaza Strip in the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty.

Since the Israel – Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, the Gaza Strip came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

A July 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice treated Gaza as part of the occupied territories.[47]

In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. The plan began to be implemented on 15 August 2005, and was completed on 12 September 2005. Under the plan, all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip (and four in the West Bank) and the joint Israeli-Palestinian Erez Industrial Zone were dismantled with the removal of all 9,000 Israeli settlers (most of them in the Gush Katif settlement area in the Strip's southwest) and military bases. Some settlers resisted the order, and were forcibly removed by the IDF. On 12 September 2005 the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip. To avoid allegations that it was still in occupation of any part of the Gaza Strip, Israel also withdrew from the Philadelphi Route, which is a narrow strip adjacent to the Strip's border with Egypt, after Egypt's agreement to secure its side of the border. Under the Oslo Accords the Philadelphi Route was to remain under Israeli control to prevent the smuggling of materials (such as ammunition) and people across the border with Egypt. With Egypt agreeing to patrol its side of the border, it was hoped that the objective would be achieved. However, Israel maintained its control over the crossings in and out of Gaza. The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was monitored by the Israeli army through special surveillance cameras. Official documents such as passports, I.D. cards, export and import papers, and many others had to be approved by the Israeli army.[citation needed]

The Israeli position is that Gaza is no longer occupied, inasmuch as Israel does not exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions in the Gaza Strip.[48][49]Foreign Affairs Minister of IsraelTzipi Livni stated in January, 2008: "Israel got out of Gaza. It dismantled its settlements there. No Israeli soldiers were left there after the disengagement."[50] Israel also notes that Gaza does not belong to any sovereign state.

Immediately after Israel withdrew in 2005, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated, "the legal status of the areas slated for evacuation has not changed."[48]Human Rights Watch also contested that this ended the occupation.[51][52] The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs continues to consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls Gaza Strip's airspace, territorial waters and controls the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea.[12][13][14]

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs maintains an office on "Occupied Palestinian Territory," which concerns itself with the Gaza Strip.[53] In his statement on the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflictRichard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories" wrote that international humanitarian law applied to Israel "in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war."[54] In a 2009 interview on Democracy Now Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) contends that Israel is an occupying power. However, Meagan Buren, Senior Adviser to the Israel Project, a pro-Israel media group contests that characterization.[55]

In 2007, after Hamas defeated Fatah in the Battle of Gaza (2007) and took control over the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza. Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli raids, such as Operation Hot Winter continued into 2008. A six month ceasefire was agreed in June 2008, but it was broken several times by both Israel and Hamas. As it reached its expiry, Hamas announced that they were unwilling to renew the ceasefire without improving the terms.[56] At the end of December 2008 Israeli forces began Operation Cast Lead, launching the Gaza War that left an estimated 1,166–1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.[57][58][59]

In January 2012, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General stated that under resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the UN still regards Gaza to be part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.[11]

East Jerusalem

Main article: East Jerusalem

Jerusalem has created additional issues in relation to the question of whether or not it is occupied territory. The 1947 UN Partition Plan had contemplated that all of Jerusalem would be an international city within an international area that included Bethlehem for at least ten years, after which the residents would be allowed to conduct a referendum and the issue could be re-examined by the Trusteeship Council.

However, after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Jordan captured East Jerusalem and the Old City, and Israel captured and annexed the western part of Jerusalem[citation needed]. Jordan bilaterally annexed East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank in 1950 as a temporary trustee [60] at the request of a Palestinian delegation,[61] and although the annexation was recognized by only two countries, it was not condemned by the UNSC. The British did not recognize the territory as sovereign to Jordan.[62] Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. On June 27, Israel extended its laws, jurisdiction, and administration to East Jerusalem and several nearby towns and villages, and incorporated the area into the Jerusalem Municipality. In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, which was declared a Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem to be the "complete and united" capital of Israel. However, United Nations Security CouncilResolution 478 declared this action to be "null and void", and that it "must be rescinded forthwith". The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and considers it occupied territory.[63]

UN Security Council Resolution 478 also called upon countries which held their diplomatic delegations to Israel in Jerusalem, to move them outside the city. Most nations with embassies in Jerusalem complied, and relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities prior to the adoption of Resolution 478. Following the withdrawals of Costa Rica and El Salvador in August 2006, no country maintains its embassy in Jerusalem, although Paraguay and Bolivia once had theirs in nearby Mevaseret Zion.[64][65] The United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, stating that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999." As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since passage, the law has never been implemented, because of opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, who view it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branch's constitutional authority over foreign policy;[66] they have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests.

Views on terminology used

Palestinian views

Al Haq, an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Ramallah in the West Bank and an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, has asserted that "As noted in Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 'a party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty'. As such, Israeli reliance on local law does not justify its violations of its international legal obligations".[67] Further, the Palestinian mission to the U.N. has argued that:[68]

it is of no relevance whether a State has a monist or a dualist approach to the incorporation of international law into domestic law. A position dependent upon such considerations contradicts Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 which states that: "a state is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purposes of a treaty when it has undertaken an act expressing its consent thereto." The Treaty, which is substantially a codification of customary international law, also provides that a State "may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty" (Art. 27).

Israeli views

Main article: Status of territories captured by Israel

The Israeli government maintains that according to international law the West Bank status is that of disputed territories.[69][70]

The question is important given if the status of "occupied territories" has a bearing on the legal duties and rights of Israel toward those.[71] Hence it has been discussed in various forums including the UN.

Israeli judicial decisions

In two cases decided shortly after independence, in the Shimshon and Stampfer cases, the Supreme Court of Israel held that the fundamental rules of international law accepted as binding by all "civilized" nations were incorporated in the domestic legal system of Israel. The Nuremberg Military Tribunal determined that the articles annexed to the Hague IV Convention of 1907 were customary law that had been recognized by all civilized nations.[72] In the past, the Supreme Court has argued that the Geneva Convention insofar it is not supported by domestic legislation "does not bind this Court, its enforcement being a matter for the states which are parties to the Convention". They ruled that "Conventional international law does not become part of Israeli law through automatic incorporation, but only if it is adopted or combined with Israeli law by enactment of primary or subsidiary legislation from which it derives its force". However, in the same decision the Court ruled that the Fourth Hague Convention rules governing belligerent occupation did apply, since those were recognized as customary international law.[73]

The Israeli High Court of Justice determined in the 1979 Elon Moreh case that the area in question was under occupation and that accordingly only the military commander of the area may requisition land according to Article 52 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention. Military necessity had been an after-thought in planning portions of the Elon Moreh settlement. That situation did not fulfill the precise strictures laid down in the articles of the Hague Convention, so the Court ruled the requisition order had been invalid and illegal.[74] In recent decades, the government of Israel has argued before the Supreme Court of Israel that its authority in the territories is based on the international law of "belligerent occupation", in particular the Hague Conventions. The court has confirmed this interpretation many times, for example in its 2004 and 2005 rulings on the separation fence.[75][76]

In its June 2005 ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Gaza disengagement, the Court determined that "Judea and Samaria" [West Bank] and the Gaza area are lands seized during warfare, and are not part of Israel:

The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation. The long arm of the state in the area is the military commander. He is not the sovereign in the territory held in belligerent occupation (see The Beit Sourik Case, at p. 832). His power is granted him by public international law regarding belligerent occupation. The legal meaning of this view is twofold: first, Israeli law does not apply in these areas. They have not been "annexed" to Israel. Second, the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation (see HCJ 1661/05 The Gaza Coast Regional Council v. The Knesset et al. (yet unpublished, paragraph 3 of the opinion of the Court; hereinafter – The Gaza Coast Regional Council Case). In the center of this public international law stand the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 (hereinafter – The Hague Regulations). These regulations are a reflection of customary international law. The law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 (hereinafter – the Fourth Geneva Convention).[77][78]

Israeli legal and political views

Soon after the 1967 war, Israel issued a military order stating that the Geneva Conventions applied to the recently occupied territories,[79] but this order was rescinded a few months later.[80] For a number of years, Israel argued on various grounds that the Geneva Conventions do not apply. One is the Missing Reversioner theory[81] which argued that the Geneva Conventions apply only to the sovereign territory of a High Contracting Party, and therefore do not apply since Jordan never exercised sovereignty over the region.[73] However, that interpretation is not shared by the international community.[82] The application of Geneva Convention to Occupied Palestinian Territories was further upheld by International Court of Justice, UN General Assembly, UN Security Council and the Israeli Supreme Court.[82]

In the cases before the Israeli High Court of Justice the government has agreed that the military commander's authority is anchored in the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and that the humanitarian rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention apply.[83] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the Supreme Court of Israel has ruled that the Fourth Geneva Convention and certain parts of Additional Protocol I reflect customary international law that is applicable in the occupied territories.[84]

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Meir Shamgar, taking a different approach, wrote in the 1970s that there is no de jure applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention regarding occupied territories to the case of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the Convention "is based on the assumption that there had been a sovereign who was ousted and that he had been a legitimate sovereign."[85] Israeli diplomat, Dore Gold, has stated that the language of "occupation" has allowed Palestinian spokesmen to obfuscate this history. By repeatedly pointing to "occupation," they manage to reverse the causality of the conflict, especially in front of Western audiences. Thus, the current territorial dispute is allegedly the result of an Israeli decision "to occupy," rather than a result of a war imposed on Israel by a coalition of Arab states in 1967.[85]

Gershom Gorenberg, disputing these views, has written that the Israeli government knew at the outset that it was violating the Geneva Convention by creating civilian settlements in the territories under IDF administration. He explained that as the legal counsel of the Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron was the Israeli government's expert on international law. On September 16, 1967 Meron wrote a top secret memo to Mr. Adi Yafeh, Political Secretary of the Prime Minister regarding "Settlement in the Administered Territories" which said "My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the Administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention."[86] Moshe Dayan authored a secret memo in 1968 proposing massive settlement in the territories which said "Settling Israelis in administered territory, as is known, contravenes international conventions, but there is nothing essentially new about that."[87]

Various Israeli Cabinets have made political statements and many of Israel's citizens and supporters dispute that the territories are occupied and claim that use of the term "occupied" in relation to Israel's control of the areas has no basis in international law or history, and that it prejudges the outcome of any future or ongoing negotiations. They argue it is more accurate to refer to the territories as "disputed" rather than "occupied" although they agree to apply the humanitarian provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention pending resolution of the dispute. Yoram Dinstein, has dismissed the position that they are not occupied as being "based on dubious legal grounds".[88] Many Israeli government websites do refer to the areas as being "occupied territories".[89] According to the BBC, "Israel argues that the international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state in the first place."[90]

In the Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria, usually referred to as Levy Report, published in July 2012, a three-member committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice

Modern evolution of Palestine

1937 proposal: The first official proposal for partition, published in 1937 by the Peel Commission. An ongoing British Mandate was proposed to keep "the sanctity of Jerusalem and Bethlehem", in the form of an enclave from Jerusalem to Jaffa, including Lydda and Ramle.

Greater Jerusalem, May 2006. CIAremote sensing map showing East Jerusalem, the Green Line and Jerusalem's city limits which were unilaterally expanded by Israel, 28 June 1967, annexed by Knesset (30 July 1980), and modified and expanded in February 1992.

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