Edited by Jan M. Smits
Chapter 36: Israel
The state of Israel was established on 14 May 1948 as a national homeland for the Jewish people. The Israeli legal system was initially based on the Ottoman and British law, as these were the last two rulers in Palestine, prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. At first, the new state of Israel, seeking to avoid disruption of the social fabric in the wake of political change, preserved most of the existing legal order by fixing the legal norms created by the former rulers. The legal system in Israel cannot be categorized as part of one unified legal family, for example common law or civil law. Rather, it may be described as a system of ‘mixed jurisdiction’, though not in the traditional meaning, as the mixed jurisdiction in Israel is temporary and transitional. In the first years of statehood, Israeli law comprised different layers, based on various legal sources, derived from different legal families (British law representing common law and Ottoman law representing civil law). Gradually, original Israeli legislation was enacted to replace the foreign law. Since this new legislation is not retroactive, two different systems of law coexisted simultaneously. This coexistence of different institutions, borrowed from different legal families, accords Israeli private law the title of a mixed jurisdiction.
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