Below is a list of legal materials — including court cases, statutes, administrative orders, some translated here into English for the first time — that comprise part of the legal architecture of the Nakba as it has unfolded over time. This page is a work in progress: we will add and reorganize materials over time. We also emphasize understanding the Nakba as a set of structures across different legal systems, stretching from the Israeli civilian judiciary all the way to Palestinian Authority courts operating under indirect Zionist rule.


Citizenship and Nationality

Law of Return (1950): Entitles any Jew in the world to settle in Israel, conferring the status of immigrant (oleh) even to Jews who were born in Palestine before the establishment of the state of Israel.

Citizenship Law (1952): Sets out criteria for Israeli citizenship, including automatic citizenship rights for any Jew in the world who uses the Law of Return.

Tamarin v. State of Israel (1972): Court case holding that there is no such thing as Israeli nationality under Israeli law; there can only be Jewish nationality and Israeli citizenship. Accordingly, the state holds that all Jews in the world belong to a single nation, while Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Israel cannot share a nationality.

al-Karbutli v. Minister of Defense (1949): Court held that the promise of equality for Arab citizens mentioned in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State has no legal force.



Absentees’ Property Law (1950): Used to expropriate lands from Palestinian refugees who were forcibly displaced beyond areas of Israeli control during the 1948 war.

Land Acquisition Law (1953): Used to expropriate lands belonging to Palestinians for who remained inside Israel for purposes of “essential development, settlement, or security.”

  • Ali Yunis v. Minister of Finance (HCJ 5/54): Case upholding the 1953 Land Acquisition Law. The petitioner was prevented from reaching his land by military restrictions, yet the state confiscated his land on the pretext that he was no longer in “possession” of it.
  • Jabareen v. State of Israel (CA 4067/07): Case upholding the validity of the 1953 Land Acquisition Law, even when lands seized were not used for the original reasons given and were instead used to plant forests.

Military Order 58 (1967): Authorizes Israeli army to confiscate private property in the West Bank if the owners are deemed to be absent.


Ideological Regulation and Political Participation

Jiryis v. Haifa District Commissioner (1964): Court upholds ban on the al-Ard (Land) Movement, a nationalist movement among Palestinian citizens of Israel. The decision was based purely on a reading of al-Ard’s manifesto, without any suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.

Yardur v. Chairman of the Central Elections Committee (1965): Court upholds a ban on participation in Knesset elections of an electoral list affiliated with al-Ard, purely on ideological grounds.

Central Elections Committee v. Tibi (2003): Court reverses a ban on participation in Knesset elections of National Democratic Assembly (Balad), analyzing the relationship between the state’s Jewish character and the principle of citizenship.


Indirect Rule

Palestinian Constitutional Court Interpretive Decision No. 3 (2016): Upholds the authority of the Palestinian Authority president to strip parliamentary immunity from members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.