When infidels unwittingly enforce the sharia

Middle East: The Ghosts of Sovereigns Past

by Naomi Linder Kahn  •  March 11, 2021

  • The State of Israel continues to enforce Jordanian law [in the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria] — despite its clearly racist and backward underpinnings.

  • No matter what side of the political divide you view it from, a legislative and legal time-warp has trapped the residents of these territories – Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians – in amber for more than five decades. The result: legal chaos, injustice and incessant conflict.

  • Ironically, Israel’s legal reticence continues to fuel the endless conflict over the land itself… that could be avoided by simply completing the process of land survey and registration initiated by the Ottoman Empire and continued by the British Mandatory and Jordanian governments in turn.

  • Surveying and registering land ownership was not perceived as an act of sovereignty when the British caretakers undertook it; there seems no reason why it should be regarded that way now.

  • This same vacuum has made it impossible to formulate forward-thinking policy for land use, environmental protection, settlement policy, and perhaps most critically, a negotiated resolution of the status of the territory. Without establishing who owns what, it is impossible to proceed toward a just division of resources or a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

  • The time has come to banish the antiquated ghosts of Ottoman, Jordanian and British Mandatory rule, and to fill the legal void in Judea and Samaria with a modern, humanist, democratic system of law for everyone.

In short, the legal and legislative vacuum that has resulted from Israel’s well-intentioned decision to retain Ottoman and Jordanian law in the territories that came under its legal jurisdiction over 50 years ago continues to deprive both the Arabs and Jews who live there of their basic rights. Pictured: King Hussein of Jordan visits an army post in the disputed territories known as Judea and Samaria — or the “West Bank” (of the Jordan River), on June 5, 1967. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


Now that the debate surrounding the extension of Israeli sovereignty to the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria has abated somewhat in light of the Abraham Accords, the time may be ripe to take a closer look at the legal status of these territories.

The picture that emerges might be surprising. More than a century after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the empire’s ghost continues to reign. More than 50 years after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, more than 30 years after King Hussein of Jordan publicly relinquished all legal and administrative ties to this territory, and more than 25 years after Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, officially relinquishing all territorial claims, the State of Israel continues to enforce Jordanian law — despite its clearly racist and backward underpinnings.

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