The Bedouin Judge, the Mufti, and the Chief Islamic Justice: Competing Legal Regimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
This article examines competing legal frameworks in dispute resolution in the occupied territories, against the background of weakening central authority, bitter political rivalries, and increasing insecurity on the ground. Two case studies from 2005 are presented—a killing in Gaza and an attempted sexual assault in the West Bank—where the involved parties had recourse to three distinct but overlapping bodies of law, not all of which were part of the formal Palestinian legal system: statutory law, Islamic law, and customary (or tribal) law. The resolution of these cases, while shedding light on the intersection of local politics and alternative legal systems, underscores the challenges of forging a united legal system in a situation of occupation, weak government, and heterogeneous legal heritage.
Lynn Welchman is Professor of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. For their help, variously, in locating sources for this article and discussing the material, she would like to thank Salwa Du’yabis, Shaykh Riyad Issawi, Stephanie Koury, Amneh Ma’bad, Ellen Saliba, Issam Younis, Susan Rockwell, and Nahed Samour. She is particularly grateful to lawyer and Bedouin judge Daif Allah Abu Dahuk.