Book Review: Conflicts in a Conflict: A Conflict of Laws Case Study on Israel and the Palestinian Territories, by Michael Karayanni

By: Kat KlepferConflict

Michael Karyanni. Conflicts in a Conflict: A Conflict of Laws Case Study on Israel and the Palestinian Territories. (Oxford University Press, 2014). 300 p. Hardcover $125.00.

Conflicts in a Conflict: A Conflict of Laws Case Study on Israel and the Palestinian Territories, written by Michael Karayanni, the Bruce W. Wayne Chair in International Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, traces the development and application of the conflicts of laws doctrine in Israel. Karayanni argues that, although the Israeli/Palestinian situation is sui generis and will not always parallel other jurisdictions, the approach of Israeli courts “to test legal rules and standards in extreme and extraordinary conditions” can inform academics and practitioners in other jurisdictions.

Chapter 1 of the book begins with an in-depth look at the historical legal framework of the region, including an account of the history of the legal system in Israel and Palestine before and after the Oslo Peace Accords of the 1990s. This chapter introduces the reader to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict viewed through the lens of international law, complete with a timeline, maps, and visuals. The remaining chapters survey the jurisdictional issues Israeli courts have explored as they wrestle with international law in civil disputes between litigants of Israel and the Palestinian Territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These issues include: personal jurisdiction (Chapter 2); subject matter jurisdiction and sovereign immunity (Chapter 3); choice of law across various legal subjects (Chapter 4); and enforcement of judgments and access to justice (Chapter 5). The book also provides an extensive bibliography and an index that includes historical terms, case names, and legal concepts.

Conflicts in a Conflict is the most recent title presented by the Center for International Legal Education Studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Despite Chapter 1’s accessible introduction to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the book as a whole assumes an audience with some prior knowledge of private and public international law. It belongs in any academic law library that supports faculty with interests in conflicts of law and/or foreign and comparative law. Additionally, it could serve as a supplementary reading source for students taking courses in conflicts of law and/or Israeli law.

It is always a challenge to purchase titles on topics where changing politics, geography, and world events can alter a legal landscape in the time it takes for a book to go to print. But, Conflicts in a Conflict overcomes the threat of potential irrelevancy. Its analysis relies on the historical development of legal norms and will continue to be informative to readers in the coming years, not just in Israel and Palestine, but also in other nations that struggle with issues of legal jurisdiction and shifting boundaries.

Kat Klepfer, JD/MLIS, is a Research Assistant at the Florida State University College of Law and served as Secretary of the FSU chapter of the International Law Students Association and Editor-in-Chief of Volume 23 of the Journal of Transnational Law & Policy.

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