Conference Themes


For its initial existence, the State of Israel has depended on a unilateral declaration of statehood in addition to both the expulsion (or as some would say the ethnic cleansing) of large numbers of non-Jewish Palestinian Arabs in 1947-49 and the prevention of their return. Furthermore, the Jewish nature of the state has profoundly affected the economic, constitutional, political and social life of those non-Jewish Arabs who were allowed to stay. To the present day, as recently confirmed by its Supreme Court, Israel does not recognize an “Israeli” nationality but officially has a list of 139 ‘nationalities’, of which the “Jewish” nationality bestows some vital privileges. This fact generates the possibility of the exclusion of non-Jewish citizens of Israel by racial gerrymandering and the existence of two layers of Israeli citizenship and an inherent differential between Jews and non-Jews.

Legal scholarship on Palestine-Israel and international law, involving issues of self-determination, human rights and constitutional law, has largely focused on the Israeli occupation since 1967 of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza and on the illegality of Israel’s settlements and apartheid colonization in these territories.

Alongside these debates, there has been a persistent, if marginalized, scholarship examining and analyzing problems associated with the creation and the nature of the Jewish state itself and the status of Jerusalem. This research has combined historical scholarship and legal analysis of the manner by which the State of Israel came into existence as well as what kind of state it is. The issues explored hitherto linked reflections on the scholarship between international law and: identity and injustice; violence and morality; nationality and citizenship; self-determination and legitimacy; exceptionalism; and responsibility.

Main Themes

The conference will link legal, ethical, political, historical and philosophical issues that follow from the themes of the conference. It will stimulate reflections on the scholarship between international law and: identity and injustice; violence and morality; nationality and citizenship; self-determination and legitimacy; exceptionalism; and responsibility.

The motivation for this interdisciplinary conference is to examine the role international law can play in political struggles. The search is for certain steps which would enable movement and dynamism and allow ongoing critical reflection about transitional justice and the tension between political pursuits and international law. The conference will seek to overcome doctrinal limits and contradictions by bringing to light ideological and existential fetters that perhaps render international law to be the very instrument of rationalisation of violence and suffering.

Aims & Objectives

  • To generate a multidisciplinary platform for scholarly debate about the relationship between injustices and ongoing violence in historic Palestine.
  • To examine the role law and in particular, international law, both in terms of substance and jurisdiction, can play in responding to injustices and ongoing violence in Palestine.
  • To help shift public debate from merely focusing on the legality of Israel’s actions in the context of a partitioned Palestine, to the ways in which injustice and violence in historic Palestine are a result of the founding manner a d nature of the State of Israel.
  • To discuss the constitution and nature of the State of Israel under the pillars of legitimacy, exceptionalism, and responsibility.
  • To envision different senses of unique belonging in historic Palestine that can serve as a constitutional basis for political community in historic Palestine and to examine the integrative role of law in bringing about such vision.
  • To allow and to actively encourage highly different responses to the questions posed by the conference.
  • To reflect on the often depoliticized and deferential use of international law by Palestinians.  To that end, to engage a new generation of Palestinian lawyers and scholars in discourse and concepts that engender more radical and expansive uses of international law which go beyond the ‘1967 occupation’ paradigm.

Registration & Inquiries

All attendees are required to complete the conference registration form to secure a place at the conference. To register your attendance please visit the Registration tab.

For academic inquiries concerning the themes and programme of the conference, please contact:

Professor Oren Ben-Dor, Law School, University of Southampton, UK at

Professor George Bisharat, University of California Hastings College of Law, US,

Dr. John Reynolds, Maynooth University, Ireland at