The Role of the Shariʿa Court in Divorce in Palestine

In: Hawwa
Turid Smith Polfus Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo Oslo Norway

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The article analyzes four decrees from the shariʿa court in Ramallah (2010–13) that introduce procedural reforms regarding divorce, to inquire what role the court envisages for itself as Palestine prepares for statehood. The study finds that the legal maxim “Ṭalāq is in the hands of the husband,” ergo not the court, ensures that the court does not represent a real alternative to privatized justice, and thus fails to contribute to the state-building process. The court upholds its construction of men as sovereign, over whom the court has no jurisdiction in ṭalāq cases. It regards ṭalāq as a matter between the husband and God. Wives need intermediaries to obtain a unilateral divorce, but the court is reluctant to take on that role.

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