Drafting a Constitution for a 'Country of Words': The Palestinian Case
20 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2012 Last revised: 21 Jun 2012
Date Written: January 18, 2012
“We have a country of words. Speak speak so I can put my road on the stone of a stone. We have a country of words. Speak speak so we may know the end of this travel” (Mahmoud Darwish).
Can words - rather than a State (or army) - constitute a country? It may be made of land, rivers, forests or deserts - yet without its inhabitants’ words there would be no map to draw, no tale to sing, no country to speak of. Palestinian tales abound. They speak of departed lands, vanished homes, forfeited livelihoods. They lament internal wrangling, squeal occupational anger, seek to whisper away those quotidian checkpoint humiliations. Yet they also speak of hope. If there ever were such a thing as “authoritative hope”, the ongoing Palestinian constitution-drafting process may be it. But hope cannot be formalized, let alone authorized. And there is some danger in pretending otherwise.
Keywords: Palestinian Constitution, customary law, political theory, popular representation, equality of rights, refugees
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