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Arab Customary Law in Israel: Sulha Agreements and Israeli Courts

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In this article I describe various aspects of the complex link between the Israeli legal system and the Arab customary institution of sulha (an agreement for peaceful settlement of a dispute). On the basis of contemporary decisions of the Supreme Court and the District Courts in Israel, I argue that a sulha agreement between an accused and his victim (or the victim's family) often influences the judges' decisions during criminal proceedings against the former. This influence tends to work in favor of the accused—mainly in decisions about detention and sentencing—but when a sulha agreement affects the verdict, it tends to work against the accused. The weight attached to the sulha by the court has some problematic aspects: it may cause the accused to force a sulha agreement upon his victim and lead to perversion of the course of justice.


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