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.

Cadastral map

A map of public record, typically generated and maintained by the government, that provides detailed information about real property (i.e., land, attachments to the land, and what lies beneath the land); provides a public record of the property boundaries, subdivision lines, buildings, and related information; used to place a value on land and allocate tax payments. Part of a “cadastre” which is a public record or map of land ownership to determine ownership rights and taxes.

Change and Reform list

The electoral slate of the Hamas movement, which ran in the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections and won the majority of seats. See also Hamas.


Access to Jerusalem is controlled by 14 access points, many or most of which actually are located outside the Israeli municipal boundary and inside the occupied West Bank. Palestinians call these military checkpoints. Israelis have come to call these “crossing points” (ma’avar in Hebrew), reflecting a situation where freedom of movement is in place. Palestinians find that this term implies that anyone is allowed to cross and the situation is a normal one of routine passage through a border. Instead, they use the term “checkpoint” (hajiz in Arabic), which reflects their reality of being “screened” and “approved” or “denied” for permission to cross in a situation where freedom of movement is not guaranteed and is in fact often denied.

City of David

Coming soon

Civil Administration

The Israeli military unit responsible for implementing Israel’s civilian policy in the occupied West Bank. Formed in 1981 as a division within the COGAT, the unit formerly administered all civilian affairs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. After the Interim Accord was signed as part of the Oslo Accords, some of the administrative responsibilities of the Civil Administration were transferred to the newly formed Palestinian Authority (for Areas A and B), but the Civil Administration remained in full charge of Area C, which is 60 percent of the West Bank. The Civil Administration is responsible for many administrative issues affecting the settlers and settlements. According to Yesh Din, “Its vast powers touch upon most areas of life . . . : travel and work permits; infrastructure—water, electricity, transportation and communication; agriculture; trade and industry; environmental protection; archaeology and nature reserves.” The Civil Administration has eight divisions and is staffed by hundreds of soldiers and civilians and runs eight District Coordination and Liaison Offices (DCOs or DCLs).

COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories)

Military unit established by Israel in 1967 to administer the security and civilian matters in the occupied West Bank and Gaza that is accountable to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. In 1981, an additional division was established within the COGAT called the Civil Administration. The COGAT wields absolute control over most aspects of Palestinian lives in the territories. For example, it administers and controls the entire permit regime whereby Palestinians have to apply for permits to move from place to place, both within the West Bank and to leave it and enter Israel.

Core Ring

Settlement belt in and around the Old City of Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods, including Silwan, al-Tur, Sheik Jarrah, and Wadi al-Joz. It comprises individual settlements, settlement compounds, and touristic settlements built on or within confiscated Palestinian properties and homes. While relatively small, these settlement compounds form a contiguous ring of settler-controlled areas constructing an interconnected Jewish “bubble” centered in the Jewish Quarter and made possible by a network of pathways through the original Palestinian communities.

Custodian of Absentee Property

The Israeli state body that manages land and property determined under the Israeli Absentees’ Property Law—1950 to belong to those [generally Palestinians] declared “absentees”. While this office is supposed to hold such properties for guardianship, until a political solution for the Palestinian refugees is reached, in actuality, it frequently transfers these properties to Jews. See How Israel Applies the Absentees’ Property Law to Confiscate Palestinian Property in Jerusalem.