Theorizing half-statelessness: a case study of the Nation-State Law in Israel

Amal Jamal*, Anna Kensicki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2018, the state of Israeli citizenship completed a long-anticipated transformation. The passage of the Nation-State Law represented a formal and substantial reordering of the Israeli political sphere and the long-held contention that it prioritized democratic citizenship. Redefining the Israeli state in exclusively ethnic terms, the new law places its Palestinian citizenry in a precarious position, neither fully stateless, nor fully citizen, and in a state which dangerously approaches ‘inhuman.’ Drawing on the works of Jewish humanist philosopher, Hannah Arendt, we further develop the conceptual category to which she alludes in The Human Condition and Origins of Totalitarianism–‘half-statelessness.’ Applying Arendt’s arguments to the Palestinian case, we deepen previous analyses of the new Basic Law and citizenship studies more broadly, demonstrating how Israeli citizenship’s continuous evolution has reached its legislative apex and produced a phenomenon which transcends the typical prototypes of citizen and state and effectively de-humanizes its Palestinian citizens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-785
Number of pages17
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - 17 Aug 2020


  • Half-Statelessness
  • Israel
  • Nation-State Law
  • Palestinian Citizens
  • dehumanization


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