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.

Kaminitz Law

Also known as Amendment 116, the Kaminitz Law gives executive authorities the power to issue penalties—such as demolition and stop-work orders, the confiscation of building equipment and vehicles, and arrests—all without referring to the judicial system. Passed in 2017, it is included in the “oversight, enforcement, and penalties” section of the Israeli Planning and Building Law. Prior to its passage, Israeli authorities had to submit a request to a court in order to issue a demolition order, providing for a series of appeals and hearings that lengthened the process and meant the plaintiff could be heard.

Key money

A fee paid to a landlord or a tenant to secure a lease on a residential rental property. In Israel, key money has a history of being linked to illegal real estate transactions—including Palestinian properties appropriated by Israeli settlement organizations—due to rent control laws that give renters inordinate power. Thus, to leave the property, a renter can require a large sum to turn over the “key” to the new resident, providing an opening for wealthy settler organizations to apply financial leverage or falsify a key money transaction and thereby acquire Palestinian properties.

King–Crane Commission

A commission of inquiry led by the United States in 1919 to survey public opinion in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Anatolia following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire one year earlier. The commission was formally known as the 1919 Inter-Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey, but France, Britain, and Italy withdrew from it out of concern that the findings of the commission would conflict with their goals in the region. France and Britain had already signed the Sykes–Picot Agreement in 1916, and the Balfour Declaration had been announced in 1917—among other inter-European deals to divide up the territories. The commission’s recommendations, which were submitted to the Paris Peace Conference in August 1919 and warned against the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, were inconsequential, since the Allied Forces had already decided the region’s fate.