A Tale of Two Regions: Diffusion of the Israeli “50 Percent Rule” from the Galilee to the Occupied West Bank

Authors

  • Geremy Forman

    Corresponding author
    1. At Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa
      Geremy Forman teaches and researches historical, legal, and geographical dimensions of the Israeli land regime at Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at geremy@maaganm.co.il.
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  • He thanks Ronit Levine-Schnur, Ian Lustick, and Eyal Zamir for generously providing him with a number of important documents relevant to this study. For their careful reading and helpful comments, he wishes to thank Antonio Azuela, Nicholas Blomley, Eyal Benvenisti, Martin Bunton, Catriona Drew, Michael Fischbach, Maxine Forman, Yifat Holzman-Gazit, Sandy Kedar, Assaf Likhovski, Sandy Sufian, and the anonymous referees of Law & Social Inquiry. He also acknowledges the generous support of the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (Grant I-838-171.4/2004), without which this article could not have been written.

Geremy Forman teaches and researches historical, legal, and geographical dimensions of the Israeli land regime at Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at geremy@maaganm.co.il.

Abstract

The “50 percent rule” is an Israeli judicial doctrine that has played a pivotal role since the early 1960s in deciding disputes between the Israeli government and Palestinian landholders under Article 78 of the Ottoman Land Code. It was first institutionalized during a government land-claiming campaign aimed at providing state land for settlement-based Judaization of Israel's predominantly Palestinian Galilee region. Two decades later, during a similar state land-claiming campaign, the doctrine diffused into the occupied West Bank. Drawing on spatial components of social science diffusion literature and work in the field of legal geography, this article offers a legal-historical-geographical analysis of the evolution and diffusion of the 50 percent rule. Its conclusions suggest a new spatialized approach to the study of legal transfers and transplants that conceptualizes law's movement across international borders as one component of a broader process of legal diffusion, in which internal diffusion also plays an important role.

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