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Lee Epstein
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Lee Epsteing Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor
Untitled Page LEGAL SYSTEMS OF THE MIDDLE EAST: THE CASES OF ISRAEL AND EGYPT
Published in 1986. In Legal Traditions and Systems, ed. Alan Katz. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Lee Epstein
Karen O'Connor
Diana Grub

In this chapter we examine two legal systems of the Middle East—Egypt and Israel.  To some extent, the judicial processes of these nations are representative of those found throughout the region.  That is, two basic legal models exist in the Middle East.  The first, typified by Israel, contains two sets of courts and law—religious and secular.  Such systems, currently existing in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, and Kuwait, among other Middle Eastern states, are prominent throughout the region because they retain religious traditions while succumbing to the needs of a modernizing society.  The second model, typified by Egypt (but also operative in Turkey), is that of a secular legal system.  In this type of legal structure, there is no separate religious court apparatus nor does religious law play a dominant role.  Egypt and Israel were selected for detailed analysis here, then, in part because they represent the basic legal models currently operative within the Middle East.

On the other hand, Israel and Egypt were also chosen because they differ from other Mideast nations.  Both now possess modern, streamlined systems, reflecting religious and cultural traditions and emerging needs of modernizing societies.  In fact, the legal institutions developed by these countries have become model systems for the region: other states throughout the Middle East have emulated the Egyptian system, in particular, and are now developing legal apparatuses among similar lines.  Thus, because of their similarities and differences, Egyptian and Israeli legal structures provide excellent cases for study. 

Click here for the chapter (.pdf).