The article sets out to analyze the main ways in which Israeli Law was involved in the lives of Israel's Arab-Palestinian minority in the first thirty years of Israeli statehood – from its establishment in 1948 until the period circa the first Land Day, 1976. This is a detailed and complex story, which needs a theoretical key that will explain and sort out the abundance of data by relevancy and importance. The potential theoretical contribution of the article derives from the effort to develop such a theoretical/analytical key, and from the effort to gain more understanding of the ways in which law is involved in the intriguing stability of certain exploitive inter-communal relationships.
First, I claim that the study of law's involvement in the minority's life is to be conducted through the understanding of its function in the socio-political framework of the inter-communal relationship in society. Once we recognize this framework and understand its aims and needs, we are provided with a map that helps us understand and sort out the various legal norms by their relevancy and social impact. We can thus answer the question of whether the legal system was a servant or a subversive element of this framework (or something in between, and what was the balance between these two different social functions)? Subsequently, I proceed to the core of the article which is an application of this line of analysis to Israel. Lustick's pioneering work recognized, theorized and detailed the Control Framework, as the one operating in the first thirty years of Israel's existence; and I discover that the legal system in this period was an efficient servant of this framework. Hence this article hopefully contributes to the understanding of the Control model by tracing and discussing its legal dimensions.
As part of this project, I make an effort to deepen the analysis of the role law played in the stabilizing mechanisms of the Control. I try to answer, in what ways did law help deepen minority dependence, co-opting its elites and dividing its community, and how did it help disguise and partly legitimize this state of affairs.
Finally, this line of analysis may be insightful for other law and society analyses of divided societies in which the Control framework is or was exercised upon the minority. Some obvious examples are Northern Ireland and its Irish-Catholic minority, 1921-1968, Sri Lanka and its Tamil minority from the 1970s on and the Kurd minority in Turkey.