Law, culture and access to justice under the Palestinian National Authority

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It has been widely claimed that the Palestinian National Authority has failed to provide adequate access to the law for many Palestinians. Whilst impediments to legal access are often treated as a technical questions of procedure, or as an issue of the cultural appropriateness of legal regimes, this article takes a third approach, which stresses political and historical factors. In order to understand obstacles to legal access it is necessary to discover the ways in which legal practices are understood, used and abandoned in particular contexts. Through an examination of labour disputes, the article argues that in the context of the West Bank, legal claims have no absolute moral value, but are attractive for the substantive claims that can be made through them, opening up legal avenues for political manipulation. In this context, legal entitlements are distributed according to political resources, rather than legal procedures. The article concludes by arguing that promotion of effective access to legal processes in the West Bank should not be seen as a short-cut to a stable political regime, since accountable legal processes require a centralized, strong and stable coercive support, based in a measure of organizational cohesion and territorial sovereignty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-886
Number of pages22
JournalDevelopment and change
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

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