SOAS University of London

School of Law

Palestine, Resistance, and the Law

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 2

What is the relation between law and resistance? This course takes the question of Palestine as an emblematic case study for the examination of the potentialities and limitations of human rights and legal discourse in empowering the oppressed and constraining the powerful in situations of gross asymmetry of power. It thus examines the question of Palestine from the perspective of legal discourse discourse, and examines law from the vantage point of the question of Palestine. The course opens with a theoretical framing and a historical introduction to the question of Palestine, namely: Zionist colonialism and the Palestinian Nakba. Part I of the course (weeks 2-4) examines the role of law in the constructing the question of Palestine and the general features of legal structures: whether it is the role of international law in the creation of Israel; the role of law in the establishment of settler colonialism; and the role of law maintaining a differentiated citizneship status for the Palestinian citizens inside Israel. Part II examines law, war and resistance after the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. It legally assesses Palestinian resistance and Israeli violence (including the potentialities and limits of PLO engagement with international law's treatment of liberation movements and armed struggle; and political trials). Part III examines the potential and limitation of advancing Palestinian rights via universal jurisdiction or domestic law in countries like the US and the UK; and extra legal measures, namely, the capacity of civil society initiatives like BDS to advance human rights where law failed. 


  • 2 hours of seminars per week

Method of assessment

  • Essay: 90% (4000 words)
  • Presentation: 10% (15 minutes)

Suggested reading

  1. Falk, Richard, "Azmi Bishara, the Right of Resistance, and the Palestinian Ordeal" (2002) 31(2) Journal of Palestine Studies 19-33
  2. Falk, Richard and Burns H. Weston, The Relevance of International Law to Palestinian Rights in the West Bank and Gaza: In Legal Defense of the intifada, 32 Harv. Int. L. J. 1 (1991
  3. Jabareen, Hassan, "Transnational Lawyering and Legal Resistance in National Courts: Palestinian Cases Before the Israeli Supreme Court", 13 Yale Hum. Rts. & Dev. L.J. (2010).
  4. Said, Edward S., The Question of Palestine (1979).
  5. Sultany, Nimer, Activism and Legitimation in Israel's Jurisprudence of Occupation, 23(3) Social and Legal Studies 315 (2014). 


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules