International Law and the Middle East Conflict


International Law and the Middle East Conflict

Prof. Robbie Sabel


Course description

The course is intended to provide students with the background to the role that international law plays in both formulating foreign policy in the Middle East and in the attempts to solve the conflict. The course deals with basic relevant elements of international law including: The sources of international law; the role of States in international law; acquisition of territory, recognition of States, the law of the United Nations; the laws of war; the laws of belligerent occupation; human rights law; the rights of refugees; the law of the sea. The course will also study the elements of international law that are reflected in select documents associated with the conflict between Israel and its neighbours. Among the documents to be studied: The 1917 Balfour Declaration; The 1922 League of Nations British Mandate; The 1949 Armistice Agreements; Relevant UN General Assembly and UN Security Council Resolutions; The Camp David Agreements with Egypt; The Peace Agreement with Egypt and Jordan; The Oslo Agreements, The Arab League Peace Initiative; the "Roadmap".




Anthony Aust, "Handbook of Internationa Law", (Cambridge University Press 2005, Reprinted  2009) (Hereinafter "Aust") or Peter Malanczuk, “Akehurst’s Modern Introduction to International Law”, (Routledge, Seventh Revised Edition 1997) ("Hereinafter "Akehurst") or Malcolm N. Shaw, "International Law", Seventh Edition (2014) (Hereinafter "Shaw").


Additional reading


Louis Henkin, “How Nations Behave, Law and Foreign Policy”, Second Edition (1979) (hereinafter “Henkin”).

John Norton Moore (ed.) "The Arab –Israeli Conflict, Volumes I and II: Readings  (Princeton University Press, Sponsored by the American Society of International Law 1974).

Robbie Sabel, "International Legal Issues of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, An Israeli Lawyers Position" Journal of  East Asia and International Law 2 (2010) 407  

Julius Stone, "Israel and Palestine, Assault on the Law of Nations", (The John Hopkins University Press 1981).  

Geoffrey R. Watson, "The Oslo Accords, International Law and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreements" (Oxford University Press 2000).

Victor Kattan (ed.) "The Palestine Question in International Law" (British Institute of  International and Comparative Law 2008).



Topics covered by the course and required reading


1. The affinity between international relations and international law. Henkin 12-27.

2. The nature of international law. Akehurst 1-18, 63-74, or Aust 2-5 or Shaw 1-8.

3. Sources of international law, custom and treaties. Akehurst  35-71, 130-146 or Aust 5-12, Shaw 49-74, 87-91, 95-98, 654-692.

4. States, borders, territory, recognition. Akehurst 75-78 or Aust 16-40, Shaw 143-155, 162-174, 183-188.

5. International Organizations, UN. Akehurst 91-106, 364-382 or Aust 196-198, 203-222, Shaw 885-913, 939-952.

6. Shaw 285-288, 294-300, 870-872.

7. Human Rights. Akehurst 209-220 or Aust 233-250, 188-195, Shaw 194-196, 205-218.

8.  Settlement of  Disputes: Negotiations, good offices, mediation, inquiry, conciliation, arbitration, ICJ. Akehurst 273-300 or Aust 430-465 , Shaw 732-742, 758-765, 767-807.

9. Use of Force; Laws of war, military occupation, POW’s. Akehurst 342-361 or Aust 251-262, Shaw  814-832, 850-870.

10. Law of the Sea. Akehurst 173-195 or Aust 298-304, 306-307, Shaw 403-427, 441-460.

11. The role of international law in the Middle East peace process. 1917 The Balfour Declaration; 1922 The British Mandate for Palestine; 1947 UN General Assembly Resolution 181; 1948 UN General Assembly                  Resolution 194(III); 1949 Egypt – Israel Armistice Agreement; 1967 UN Security Council Resolutions 242; 1974 Israel-Syria Agreement on Disengagement; 1975 Egypt-Israel Interim agreement; 1978 Camp                    David Agreement; 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Agreement; Israel 1981 Golan Heights Law; Egypt-Israel Taba arbitration Compromis; 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles;  1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty;                  1995 Israel-PLO  Interim Agreement (without annexes); 2001 Clinton “Plan”; 2002 Arab League “Peace Initiative”; 2003 “Roadmap”; 2003 “Geneva Initiative”, or

The ICJ Advisory Opinion on the “Wall”.


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