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Property and Community$
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Gregory S. Alexander and Eduardo M. Peñalver

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391572

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391572.001.0001

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Facts on the ground

Facts on the ground

Property and Community


Oxford University Press

The phrase “creating facts on the ground” is commonly used to refer to Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories. In addition to the myriad empirical effects it produces, the practice generates normative consequences: the “first-order” normative effect consisting in the pressure that the status quo ground exerts on dispute-resolution; the “second-order” normative effect consisting in the various moral and political judgments made about the achievement of such first-order effects. This chapter provides a deeper understanding of how the practice achieves such normative effects, and teases out the kinds of first-order normative effects achieved. Drawing insights from the law of adverse possession, it proposes that the practice of creating facts on the ground serves to (a) respond to (and/or instigate) an abnormal situation or “state of emergency”, in which the conceptual distinctions on which the ordinary rules of justice depend collapse, and then (b) to “normalize” that abnormal situation.

Keywords:   Israel, Palestine, property, land, adverse possession, normalization

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