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Sultany, Nimer (2017) 'The Legal Structures of Subordination: The Palestinian Minority and Israeli Law.' In: Rouhana, Nadim and Huneidi, Sahar, (eds.), Israel and Its Palestinian Citizens: Ethnic Privilege and Equal Citizenship. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 191-237.

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Part I examines the conventional story about the rise of constitutionalism and judicial activism in Israel. I question the analytical utility of this story in evaluating the role of law in Israeli society. The chapter shows that, at least with respect to the Palestinian citizens, the Supreme Court was far from the counter-majoritarian hero who stood in defense of basic rights. Part II examines three primary areas in which the legal system, and the Court in particular, contributed to the “subordination”—i.e., systematic disadvantaging— of the Palestinian citizens. Israeli legal structures have facilitated the dispossession of Palestinian land, the establishment of inferior and differentiated citizenship, and the segregation of Arabs from Jews in housing and education. I use the word “structures” to convey that this injustice is a result of resilient institutional practices (as opposed to a moral failing on the part of few individuals). I show how the legal and judicial deployment of seemingly neutral and technical legal categories effectively obscures this subordination while simultaneously justifying, shaping, and advancing it. Part III discusses some of the rhetorical and legal tools the Court deploys to justify its deferential attitude towards state power and oppressive practices: security, thin rulings, political questions, general questions, delay, ripeness, and facially neutral jurisprudence. This by no means suggests that the Court’s performance has been uniform and monolithic. Part IV mentions three examples of cases in which the Court moderated excessive or peripheral cases of discrimination: political participation, free speech, and state subsidies. Yet even in these cases, the Court affirmed the state’s Zionist ideology, and its rulings were often ineffective given the delay in delivering rulings, the dependency of the Court on other branches to enforce its rulings, and the lack of implementation by these branches.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > School of Law
School Research Centres > Centre for Human Rights Law
School Research Centres > Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law
Departments and Subunits > School of Law
ISBN: 9781107045316
Copyright Statement: © Cambridge University Press 2017. This material has been published in 'Israel and Its Palestinian Citizens: Ethnic Privilege and Equal Citizenship' edited by Nadim N. Rouhana, Assisted by Sahar S. Huneidi []. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2015 12:29

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