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Boston University School of Law




The Arab-Israeli conflict has become the most prominent arena of regional and international tension over the past century. Within the realm of international law, the conflict has contributed greatly to the development of international rule-making. The laws of war, the scope of international humanitarian and human rights law, the rights of refugees, the centrality of self-determination, the laws on terrorism and the content of modern treaty-making -- all have been significantly shaped by the norms established through the copious resolutions, diplomatic statements and legal commentary on the many features of the conflict. Yet, at the same time, the efficacy of international law has suffered because the principal actors have marginalized it as a diplomatic tool by the parties and the international community to shape a lasting peace in the region.

This essay is a revised and expanded version of an encyclopedia entry on public international law. It summarizes the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict since the beginning of the 20th century, before turning to the principle issues in international law that speak to the most contentious issues between the parties.


Published as: "Arab-Israeli Conflict," in Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Rudiger Wolfrum, ed., Oxford University Press, 499 (2012).

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