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.




Literally, the “Catastrophe” in Arabic; a term Palestinians use to refer to the deliberate and systematic expulsions of about 750,000 Palestinians from Mandate Palestine by Zionist militias (and later, the Israeli army) and the establishment of Israel in 1948. The mass expulsions were accompanied by the destruction of more than 400 towns and villages and the property confiscation of those who had been ethnically cleansed from their homeland. Palestinians observe the depopulation of Palestine (Nakba Day) on May 15, the day after Israel proclaimed its independence.


Literally, the “setback” or “defeat” in Arabic; a term Palestinians use to refer to the 1967 War, by the end of which Israel had occupied the remainder of historic Palestine—the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip—as well as Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai. This resulted in the displacement of about 300,000 Palestinians, about a third of whom had already been displaced once during the 1948 Nakba, and brought millions of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation, which continues to this day. Viewed as the continuation of the Nakba.

National Guidance Committee (1967)

A Palestinian leadership committee formed on July 24, 1967, in the aftermath of the 1967 War and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza. The first NGC was chaired by Sheikh Abdel Hamid As-Sayeh, a respected sharia judge. The NGC denounced the Israeli annexation of the city and launched a public appeal to preserve its Arab character. In September that same year, Israel deported As-Sayeh; his successor, Rawhi al-Khatib, was soon deported as well, in 1968, which fatally weakened the NGC.

National Guidance Committee (1978)

A Palestinian leadership committee that was established in 1978 inside the occupied West Bank and Gaza to oppose both the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David Accords and Israel’s new Likud government. It was the second such body with this name (see National Guidance Committee [1967]). It was led by mayors of major cities and included journalists, labor and professional unions, women’s and student organizations, businesspeople, and religious figures. Although the NGC adopted a stance of peaceful protest and institution building, calling for independence, the Likud government (which came to power in 1977) saw it as a threat and launched attacks on the mayors in particular and the NGC as a whole. In November 1979, Israel jailed Bassam Shak‘a, the mayor of Nablus, and issued him with a deportation order for refusing to connect the city’s water and electricity to Israeli utilities. While Shak‘a was able to fight this order in court, the mayors of Halhoul and Hebron were deported the following May. In June 1980, car bombs severely wounded the mayors of Nablus and Ramallah. On August 31, 1980, Israel froze the elections of municipal councils and subsequently created the Civil Administration as a unit within the COGAT. Banned by Israel in 1982, the NGC dissolved soon after.

New Gate

The English name for one of the seven open gates in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. See also Bab al-Jadid

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

Nonresidential settlement

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