Legal System

Israel's legal system has a diverse ancestry. From 1516-1917, when it was a province of the Ottoman Empire, it was ruled by Turkish Law. This was fairly simplistic, reflecting the uncomplicated world of the time, and was ill equipped to handle many modern issues, like limited corporate entities. Toward the end of Ottoman rule, French and German Civil Law was imported to "fill in the gaps".

When the British gained their mandate over Palestine, they were reluctant to overturn an existing legal system, since it was not a true colony. The 1922 Kings Order in Council allowed them to import English law. After gaining independence in 1948, Israel kept the Anglo-American Common Law base and looked to them for precedent, although most legislation was made by the Knesset. Traditional Jewish Law has had an influence on the Israeli Legal System, such as in the 1965 Law of Agency, and many modern Hebrew legal terms were taken from Talmudic tractates, although often with different meanings than the original.

Israel also has religious courts and judges, such as Jewish Rabbinical Courts, Moslem Shar'ia Courts, and Druze Tribal Councils, although these generally have the legal status of voluntary arbitrators. One area where secular and religious courts overlap is that of Marriage and Divorce. There is no civil marriage in Israel, so couples must be wedded by a religious authority, even though the civil courts cover alimony payments and many other areas of family law.