Lexicon

Terminology in the Jerusalem context can be complex and also controversial. Words and their meanings shape narratives. Our Lexicon goes beyond standard definitions and also offers, where applicable, nuanced shades of meanings that matter to Palestinian Jerusalemites.

Administrative detention

Imprisonment without trial and without having committed any crime, as a way to ostensibly prevent a potential future crime. Under Israeli law, Palestinians in the West Bank can be detained for six months upon order of the empowered military official if he or she has “reasonable grounds to believe that reasons of regional security or public security require that a certain person be held in detention.” There is no hearing or other procedure to put up a defense. There is a right of appeal, but the evidence remains secret and only a very small percentage (like 1 percent) of such orders are cancelled. The administrative detention order can be renewed every six months indefinitely. Palestinian citizens and residents of Jerusalem can also be administratively detained, but under different laws.

Apartheid

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines apartheid as “a former social system in South Africa in which black people and people from other racial groups did not have the same political and economic rights as white people and were forced to live separately from white people.” Customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court define it as “inhumane acts . . . committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” For almost two decades, the term “apartheid” has been used to describe the conditions of Palestinians living under Israel’s settler-colonial occupation. Former US President Jimmy Carter made the comparison in his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, published on September 18, 2007. B’Tselem, an Israel human rights organization, and Human Rights Watch in New York both published analyses drawing the same conclusion in early 2021.

Arab Higher Committee

An umbrella organization formed on April 25, 1936, by the leading Palestinian parties at the time to present Palestinian demands to the British government during the general strike launched five days earlier. Chaired by Supreme Muslim Council President Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the AHC included the heads of six political parties—Palestine Arab, National Defense, Istiqlal (Independence), Reform, National Bloc, and the Youth Congress—and two Christians. The AHC was active until World War II,  when it went dormant. In November 1945 and May 1946, the Arab League reorganized the AHC. After the United Nations endorsed the partition of Palestine in 1947, the AHC failed to present a political or military response, and subsequently lost its leadership role in 1948.

Arab Liberation Army

An army of volunteers, formed by the Arab League after the United Nations voted to partition British Mandate Palestine in late 1947. It was composed of Palestinian and other Arab volunteers and was led by an Iraqi officer, Fawzi al-Qawuqji, and Adib Shishakli, who later became president of Syria. The army’s mission was to defeat Zionism and to prevent partition. The army entered Palestine in January 1948. It briefly (May to October) controlled parts of western Galilee, but was defeated by Israeli forces by October and officially disbanded in March 1949. Its numbers were estimated at 6,000 by mid-March 1948, but might have been as low as 3,500. Volunteers were mainly Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Bosniaks, Circassians, and Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al-Qawuqji was an ally of King Abdullah of Transjordan. Both of them opposed the leadership of (Palestinian Jerusalemite) Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who wanted to establish an independent Palestinian state. The mufti’s forces were diminished, in part because of the role played by the Arab Liberation Army, and King Abdullah was able to annex parts of Palestine to Jordan. The Arab Liberation Army is also sometimes referred to as the Arab Salvation Army (jaysh al-inqadh).

Area A

One of the three administrative divisions, areas A, B, and C, established in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip by the 1995 Oslo II Accords. The agreement placed the Palestinian Authority in charge of both “internal security and public order” and civilian affairs in zones designated as Area A. The zones include major Palestinian population centers—Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Jericho—and their immediate surroundings, as well as approximately 80 percent of Hebron. Area A comprises 18 percent of West Bank land and is home to the majority of its 3.05 million Palestinians (2021). In the Gaza Strip, once Israel evacuated its settlements in 2005, the territory effectively became entirely Area A—although stifled by a crippling military blockade since 2007. Likewise, in the West Bank, these mapped boundaries have changed de facto as Israel has shifted its military positions. The Israeli army conducts regular raids inside Area A, often to stage arrests. Palestinians and goods leaving and entering these partitioned areas of the West Bank usually must pass through Israeli checkpoints; Palestinians have no control over these boundaries. Less than 0.5 percent  of the area of the Jerusalem governorate is designated Area A.

See Area B, Area C, Oslo Accords.

Area B

One of the three administrative divisions, areas A, B, and C, established in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip by the 1995 Oslo II Accords. The agreement placed the Palestinian Authority in charge of civil control in Area B zones, while Israel would have the “overriding responsibility for security.” Area B comprises approximately 19.5 percent of the West Bank. Approximately 440 Palestinian villages are categorized as Area B. Palestinians and goods leaving and entering the partitioned areas of the West Bank usually must pass through Israeli checkpoints; Palestinians have no control over these boundaries. Many Palestinian farmers must obtain permits to access their lands because they live in areas A or B, but their farms are in Area C. Only about 8.5 percent of the Jerusalem governorate is Area B; the vast majority of the rest of the district (including areas under municipal control) is Area C, falling under complete Israeli control.

See Area A, Area C, Oslo Accords.

Area C

One of the three administrative divisions, areas A, B, and C, established in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip by the 1995 Oslo II Agreement. The agreement placed Israel in near-exclusive control over security and civil matters (including planning and construction) in Area C, which comprises approximately 61.5 percent of the occupied West Bank. There are as many as 300,000 Palestinians living in 532 communities that are completely or partially in Area C. The more than 200 Israeli settlements in the West Bank are located in Area C. The settlements that used to exist in the Gaza Strip were also in Area C, before they were evacuated in 2005. Most of the West Bank’s natural resources are in Area C, meaning that Palestinians have no access to those resources. Palestinians and goods leaving and entering the partitioned areas of the West Bank often must pass through Israeli checkpoints; Palestinians have no control over these boundaries. Most agricultural areas are located in Area C, and many Palestinian farmers must obtain permits from the Israeli COGAT to access their lands, because they live in areas A or B. The vast majority (89 percent) of the Palestinian Jerusalem governorate that falls outside Israeli municipal boundaries (i.e., J1) is designated Area C.

See Area A, Area B, Oslo Accords.

Ashraf

(Arabic: أشراف‎, Ashraf): Persons descended (or claiming descent) from the Prophet Muhammad by way of his daughter Fatima. Ashraf (with a long a) is the plural of sharif “noble,” from the root sharafa “to be highborn,” but ashraf (‏أشرف‎) with a short a means “very noble,” “nobler,” “noblest.”

Bab al-Amud

The Arabic name for one of the seven open gates in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. See also Damascus Gate.

See The Gates of the Old City for more detailed information.

Bab al-Asbat

The Arabic name for one of the seven open gates in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. See also Lions Gate.

See The Gates of the Old City for more detailed information.

Bab al-Dhahabi

The Arabic name for one of the seven open gates in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. See also Golden Gate.

See The Gates of the Old City for more detailed information.

Bab al-Jadid

The Arabic name for one of the seven open gates in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. See also New Gate.

See The Gates of the Old City for more detailed information.

Bab al-Khalil

The Arabic name for one of the seven open gates in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. See also Jaffa Gate.

See The Gates of the Old City for more detailed information.

Bab Haret al-Maghariba

The Arabic name for one of the seven open gates in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. See also Dung Gate.

See The Gates of the Old City for more detailed information.

Bab Haret al-Yahud

The Arabic name for one of the seven open gates in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. See also Zion Gate.

See The Gates of the Old City for more detailed information.

Biometric

Of or related to biometrics, the measurement and statistical analysis of people’s unique physical and behavioral characteristics. A technology often used for surveillance, because it makes possible accurate identification based on a person’s intrinsic physical or behavioral traits. Biometric data are data gathered from the human body (such as fingerprints, eye scans, and facial scans) that uniquely identify a person. 

Buffer zone

The 50- to 75-meter-wide restricted range on both sides of the Separation Wall and of bypass roads, whereby construction and farming are prevented. This restricted range results in house demolitions and restrictions on housing and farming. The buffer zone is accompanied by multiple surveillance technologies, such as HDTV cameras and radars. Note that this is not the same thing as the Seam zone.

Bypass road

Roads built by Israel across the occupied West Bank to link Jewish settlements together while circumventing Palestinian built-up areas. These roads exclusively serve Jewish settlers and are not accessible to cars with Palestinian plates. Built over Palestinian agricultural public lands, bypass roads function alongside the Separation Wall and settlements in restricting the movement of Palestinians, blocking development of residential spaces, and fragmenting the West Bank. In Jerusalem, these roads connect the settlements surrounding the city with the city center and the coastal plain. According to UN-OCHA, as of September 2018, Israel had constructed some 400 kilometers of bypass roads in the West Bank.