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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Time to give back some occupied territory

With Britain sending a warship to enforce its claim to Gibraltar, thousands of miles away, Bret Stephens implants his tongue firmly in cheek, and without even mentioning Israel mentions some of the other occupied territories in the world, and wonders why no one worries about them. In fact, in none of those cases, is the territory in question necessary for the occupier's security, a thought that appears lost on those who criticize Israel as an 'occupier' in Judea and Samaria, which I can literally see from my front door. (Those without access to the Journal's web site can find the full article here.
Rather than waste time and money on a fruitless diplomatic brawl, Prime Minister David Cameron should say he’s prepared to relinquish Gibraltar to Spain—on just one condition.

That would be a declaration by the Spanish government that it will renounce its own claims to the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, which lie opposite Gibraltar on the northern coast of Africa. Morocco has long claimed these Spanish enclaves for itself, and in July 2002 it even sent troops to seize an uninhabited Spanish islet near Ceuta. Madrid responded a week later by deploying its navy, air force and special forces to bloodlessly retake the island, but tensions still simmer.
Spaniards might object to returning the two cities on the grounds that local inhabitants overwhelmingly consider themselves Spanish and wish to remain a part of Spain. Then again, the last time Gibraltarians took a vote on their sovereignty, 99% of them wished to remain British.
Of course, Madrid couldn’t just turn over Ceuta and Melilla without asking Morocco to readjust its own territorial claims. Since 1975, Rabat has occupied the Western Sahara—a territory larger than the U.K.—though no other country recognizes Moroccan sovereignty. The Moroccan position is contested by an Algerian-backed group called the Polisario Front, which administers a “country” called the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
But the leadership in Rabat could hardly be asked to deliver such a political prize to its arch-rivals in Algiers without expecting some commensurate sacrifice.
It’s been more than 50 years since Algerian independence led to the exodus of nearly one million pieds-noirs and the seizure of their properties by Ben Bella’s government. And though the French government did pay some small indemnities to their displaced kinsmen, the Algerian government has never recognized, much less atoned for, the injustice it did to an indigenous community that had considered itself Algerian for generations.
Got the idea? Doesn't even mention Israel. 

Read it all.

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