This article focuses on the representations and perceptions of Muslim Palestinian women as encapsulated by early Israeli legislation. The analysis is based on a close reading of the negotiations and discussions leading up to the criminalization of bigamy by the Israeli state and, in particular, those principal discussions surrounding the legislation of the Women's Equal Rights Law of 1951. Primary materials from the Israeli State Archives are used to reconstruct the debates in the Knesset, assess the legislation's intended effects on the Muslim Palestinian family, and trace the opposition to it fielded by the Palestinian religious leadership. The legislative process is dissected to expose the implicit and explicit patriarchal and nationalized underpinnings of the image of the “ideal family” fashioned by Israeli legislators. Despite their national divide, I argue, both the Israeli Knesset and the Muslim community leadership articulated women's roles in similarly distinctive national-patriarchal hues.
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