Pluralities of Justice, Modalities of Peace: The Role of Law(s) in a Palestinian-Israeli Accommodation
13 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2000
This Article was written during the last days of Bill Clinton’s presidency as negotiations toward an Israeli-Palestinian settlement seemed to be on track toward some sort of agreement. The Article responds to the argument made by Professor John Quigley that certain elements of the anticipated compromises on such issues as borders, settlements, displaced persons, and Jerusalem would violate Palestinian rights under international law that were beyond the power of the Palestinian authorities to negotiate away.
My article only briefly responds to Professor Quigley’s reading of international law. Its more important, and theoretically significant, argument, is that assessing the 'legality' of this sort of potential peace agreement needs to go beyond the four corners of black-letter public international law to embrace a more 'legal pluralist' approach that recognizes (1) the status of public international law as itself only one legal perspective among others, (2) the divergent but powerful normative landscapes occupied by the two sides, in all their historic, religious, and nationalistic dimensions, (3) the possibility that resources for reconciliation might be found within those perspectives, and not merely from a vantage point external to them both, (4) the extent to which the norms of public international law can be built from the ground up, so to speak, through the effort to reconcile the opposing parties and their competing normative worlds, and (5) the importance of the aspiration to peace as a legal value in its own right.
Though this Article was written during a time of optimism now shattered by intervening events, its argument about the importance and potential force of a genuine encounter between the normative worlds constructed by the two sides to the conflict might, if anything, be more urgent today as the difficult effort to achieve some measure of peace is slowly and far-from-hopefully resuming.
Keywords: Israel-Palestinian conflict, International Law, Legal Pluralism, Law and Religion, Nationalism, Peace Studies, Negotiations
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation