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The Israeli military court system is the central subject of this book, as well as the main setting for a sociological inquiry into law and conXict in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, an area I refer to collectively as “Israel/ Palestine” (see Chapter 1). This duality, subject and setting, reXects the fact that the military court system is both a product and a site of the IsraeliPalestinian conXict. To describe a court system—or any institution—as a product points toward one set of questions that this book addresses: Why and how was this institution created? What purposes does it serve? How does it work? Describing it as a site points toward another set of questions: What happens in this setting, and why? How does this site, and the activities that occur within it, connect to the broader context? Relating these questions to the Israeli-Palestinian conXict presents a third line of inquiry: What can be learned about the conXict by studying the military court system? How has the court system aVected and reXected the history and politics of the conXict? The Israeli military court system was created in 1967, when Israel captured and occupied the West Bank and Gaza during the war with the surrounding Arab states of Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. The court system is part of the Israeli military administration that was established to govern the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza.1 It has been in operation since 1967 and, presumably, will continue to operate as long as the conXict continues. The legal status and the political fate of the West Bank and Gaza and of the Palestinians who reside there are hotly contested and subject to a Introduction 1 multitude of interpretations. One of the aims of this book is to describe and explain the contents and contours of these debates and to connect these debates both to the workings of the military court system and to the politics of the conXict. However, by way of introduction, a few general points are worth noting. First, Palestinians living in these regions are an “occupied” population. Israel is not their state, they have no sovereign state of their own, and their status vis-à-vis Israel is that of “foreign civilians ” residing in areas under Israeli control. A second and related point is that although the West Bank and Gaza are not sovereign Israeli territory , since 1967, Israel has been the de facto sovereign because it is the only state exercising control over these areas. Although there have been changes in the administration of the West Bank and Gaza since the early 1990s, including the establishment of a Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994, Palestinians remain occupied and stateless, the PA is not a sovereign state, and Israel remains the de facto sovereign. Third, a military occupation that results from war is tantamount to a cease-Wre and is, at least in principle, temporary. Moreover, a military occupation, by its very nature, perpetuates conXict because it negates the occupied population’s right to self-determination. Indeed, the Israeli state has never claimed or sought the right to represent Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, only the right to rule them. Therefore, although Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is the longest in modern history and has taken on many permanent-looking features, the principle of temporariness obtains because military rule over a “foreign” population is legally unacceptable and politically unstable as a permanent arrangement . However, there is no consensus on what kind of permanent arrangement should supplant the occupation. Over the last two decades, the fate of the West Bank and Gaza has emerged as the crux of the IsraeliPalestinian conXict, and deciding their Wnal/future status has been the primary focus of diplomatic eVorts to resolve it. The military court system is an institutional centerpiece of the Israeli state’s apparatus of rule over Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. As such, it has its own history as an institution, but one that is integrally tied to and aVected by the conXict in Israel/Palestine and throughout the Middle East. The military court system lies, literally and Wguratively, at the center of the conXict and therefore constitutes a crucial consideration of what elevates this conXict as a source of inspiration and agitation for people , groups, and governments beyond the geographical domain of Israel/Palestine. The military court system also has been a setting for the deployment of legal strategies and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780520937987
Related ISBN
9780520241930
MARC Record
OCLC
57532998
Pages
335
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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