Irredentism

Irredentism is the demand to annex territories under the sovereignty of a given state, based on that territory being populated by a minority that shares a national, religious or ethnic affinity with another state.

Definition

Irredentism is the demand to annex territories under the sovereignty of a given state, based on that territory being populated by a minority that shares a national, religious or ethnic affinity with another state.

Background

Irredentism originated in the "Italian Irredentism" movement of the late 19th Century, which wanted to annex all Italian-speaking territories in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the new Italian state.

The demand for annexation can originate from the minority that wants to break away from the state in which it is located, as well as from the Kin State which aspires to annex the territories in which the minority is living.1

Irredentism is distinct from secession: while Irredentism is the minority's demand to break away from one state to join another state,2 secession is a minority's demand to break away from a state in order to establish an independent or autonomous body.3

In Israel's context, Irredentism is the concern that even after a Palestinian state is established and a Permanent Status Agreement determines a finality of claims between Israel and the Palestinians (See End of Conflict), the national demands of Israeli Arabs will serve as a pretext for irredentist demands to annex territories to a Palestinian state.


1 Weiner Myron, "The Macedonian Syndrome: A Historical Model of International Relations and Political Development" The New Balkan Politics, 2005. For full article, click here.

2 For example the Russian national/ethnic minorities in Latvia and Estonia, and the Ostian minority in Georgia, which were aspiring for Russia to annex the territories in which they lived.

3 For example Belgium's separation from Holland in 1830 and Croatia's and Slovenia's separation from Yugoslavia in the early 90's of the 20th Century.