Necessity as ‘justification’ or as an ‘excuse’ and the Palestinian Authority

There is much debate whether necessity can be invoked as a justification for wrongful act making of an unlawful action, a legal one, or as an excuse, thus absolving the perpetrator from the responsibility of violating a rule.

I read a quote from J.L. Austin that distinguishes between the two ways to look at necessity: “In the one defense justification], briefly, we accept responsibility but deny that is was bad; in the other, [excuse], we admit that it was bad but don’t accept full, or even any, responsibility.” John L. Austin, A Plea for Excuses, 57 PROC. OF THE ARISTOTELIAN Soc’Y 1 (1957). Cited in: Johnstone, Ian. “The Plea of “Necessity” in International Legal Discourse: Humanitarian Intervention and Counter-terrorism.” Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 43 (2005), p. 350.

The Palestinian Authority uses ‘necessity’ a lot both to justify wrongful actions and to excuse officials (from the perspective of constitutional law) (without necessarily invoking necessity or using the word الضرورة). What can Austin say about this? I would venture to say the following:

A state of necessity justifies the Palestinian Authority’s actions (even if in ordinary times they would be qualified as unconstitutional) and the officials who venture to do those actions is absolved of any responsibility anyway – just in case!

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