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We learn in the opening crawl of The Phantom Menace that the Trade Federation has set up a blockade around Naboo in response to taxation of trade routes. The opening crawl states:

Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.

The Republic Senate was well aware of the blockade, which is why Chancellor Valorum sent Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to the system in hopes of settling the dispute. However, it's pretty clear that they were not aware of the Trade Federation's planned invasion of Naboo, as the two Jedi were surprised to discover the droid army. On top of that, Lott Dod, the Trade Federation Senator, managed to successfully deny this event when Queen Amidala brought this up during the Senate hearing:

Queen Amidala: Honorable representatives of the Republic, I come to you under the gravest of circumstances. The Naboo system has been invaded by the droid armies of the Trade…

Lott Dod: I object! There is no proof! This is incredible. We recommend a commission be sent to Naboo to ascertain the truth.

Senator Teem: The Congress of Malastare concurs with the honorable delegate from the Trade Federation. A commission must be appointed.

So, the fact that the Trade Federation was trying to keep the invasion under wraps indicates that the Republic Senate would not be happy about it if they found out. Early in the film, Captain Panaka said:

Panaka: They need her to sign a treaty to make this invasion of theirs legal. They can't afford to kill her.

And Nute Gunray was determined to persuade her into signing the treaty:

Bibble: ...how will you explain this invasion to the Senate?

Nute Gunray: The Naboo and the Federation will forge a treaty that will legitimize our occupation here. I've been assured it will be ratified by the Senate.

Queen Amidala: I will not co-operate.

Nute Gunray: Now, now, your Highness. You are not going to like what we have in store for your people. In time, their suffering will persuade you to see our point of view.

If their initial plan had worked and Queen Amidala had signed the treaty, would the Republic actually recognize it as valid? It seems like there would be several problems with this:

  1. She was coerced into signing the treaty. This would be evident if the treaty actually described the event as an "invasion" or an "occupation" (I recognize that this is the least likely scenario, but the film is vague as to how they intended to spin this event and the characters spoke of it as simply "making the invasion legal," so I thought that I would put it out there just for the sake of it).
  2. She would have plenty of witnesses of what actually transpired, including two Jedi, the Naboo Advisory Council and God knows how many civilians harmed, threatened, or held prisoner by Trade Federation forces.
  3. She could have had her decoy sign it for her, which would render it void since Sabé was only a handmaiden, not the Queen. Even the Jedi couldn't tell the difference prior to Padme meeting with the Gungans.
  4. Given the above points, it seems like they were wasting their time trying to convince her to sign the treaty herself. They could have simply attempted to forge her signature.
  5. It seems like it would be difficult to cover up the acts of mass murder perpetrated by the Trade Federation in their effort to "persuade" the Queen (here, I'm speaking of bodies, not the surviving witnesses).

If any of this would have interfered with their plans, then how did the Trade Federation intend to get away with it?

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    I'm sorry? This is Episode 1 and you are somehow expecting that it would make any sense?? – JK. Apr 7 '16 at 2:55
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    @JK. I'm not sure "expecting" is really the right word. I'm more or less curious if this plot hole has been noticed and if there is any in-universe explanation. – Spar10 Leonidas Apr 7 '16 at 3:00
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I think you've misread the significance of the scene. They aren't simply looking for her to scribble on a piece of paper, and then they'll bugger off. The Nemoidians are expecting for her to officially authorise their treaty and accept a permanent occupation by the robot armies. That would presumably involve acquiescing to other demands regarding witnesses present, stating openly that she agrees to it, etc etc. Ultimately she'll become a puppet leader.

From a Senate perspective, once she's signed the treaty, the matter is out of her hands, so to speak. The Senate will ratify the treaty and that will make it legally binding on all parties. Since Amidala (and her people) will remain under the control of the Nemoidian's robot armies, she'll also be expected to advise her Representatives in the Senate to also not block the treaty's passage on pain of having her people exterminated.

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  1. It likely would have been seen as smelly by honest people (like Bail Organa and the Jedi), but, without clear evidence it was coerced, it would have had to be accepted as legal
  2. Witnesses can be counteracted, especially where politics are concerned. All you need to do is bring your own witnesses who contradict the testimony or (in this case) just make a dragged out "investigation" that either never completes or comes to a conclusion favorable to you. In real life, the UN is notorious for this kind of "investigative inaction"
  3. Even if the handmaiden signed, you're still back in the same boat as point #2: endless quibbling over whether or not it was legally signed. But I think this point is moot because...
  4. While forging a signature would seem to put you into the same boat as #2, the problem is that it probably wasn't a paper document, but an electronic one (I'm speculating on this point, but nobody in Star Wars seems to use paper). Done properly, forging an electronic signature would be difficult and fraught with the possibility of being caught. Better to coerce a signature that's authentic than forge one that may get caught.
  5. It's pretty easy to cover mass murder, actually. Load them all up and shoot them into the Naboo sun. Or maybe the droids have a "tragic malfunction". If you can manipulate the media (or simply block them from seeing anything incriminating) then you can get away with a lot.

Also note that Darth Sidious(Palpatine) was pulling strings behind the scenes (he directly declares that he would "make [the invasion] legal"). So I think, even with an investigation, you'd have Sidious make sure the questions about the agreement would be buried. Remember, Sidious masterfully turns the drawn out investigation proposed by the Trade Federation (where it would take forever to come to a conclusion) into an impetus for Queen Amadala to move for a vote of no confidence in Vallorum (which strengthens my theory in #2).

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