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.


An irrevocable endowment, whether in cash or property, to be held perpetually in trust and used for a purpose serving Islamic sharia law (such as a religious school, charity, mosque, etc.). A waqf (pl. awqaf) is a permanent donation that can never be transferred, sold, or altered in function or purpose. Waqf (from the root waqafa, to cause something to stop and stand still) in Arabic means to halt or preserve. In this case, the function of the endowment is permanently channeled to an Islamic religious purpose in perpetuity.

West Jerusalem

Refers to the section of the city of Jerusalem that is west of the Green Line that was drawn in 1949 as part of the Armistice Agreement following the 1948 War and the division of the city between Israel and Jordan. Before 1948, this part of the city was commonly known as the “New City,” which was established at the end of the 19th century outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. After the 1948 Nakba, the parts of the city that came under Israeli control (i.e., West Jerusalem) were almost completely emptied of Palestinian Arab inhabitants, who were forcibly displaced or elected to seek temporary safety elsewhere. They fled to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among other places, and then the state banned them from ever returning. Today, West Jerusalem encompasses an area that is much larger than its pre-1948 predecessor (the “New City”) and extends farther to the west, almost halfway to the Mediterranean Sea. The term came into more common usage after the 1967 War, because Israel occupied the eastern part of the city, and so the term was used to distinguish between the two parts of the city that were now both under Israeli control—the western (Jewish) side and the eastern (Arab) side.

Western Corridor

Refers to the neighborhoods and villages located on the western side of pre-1948 Jerusalem, including Lifta, Sheikh Badr, Deir Yasin, ‘Ayn Karim, and al-Maliha, among others, as well as the neighborhoods of the southern part of the city from Talbiyya down to the German Colony, the Greek Colony, Qatamon, and al-Baq‘a.

Western Wall

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White Paper

Coming soon

Wye River Memorandum

Signed in October 1998 between Israelis and Palestinians, establishing a new schedule for Israel’s redeployment from the rest of Area C. The Oslo II Agreement had established that Israel was to redeploy its military from Area C of the West Bank in three phases, but only one phase was completed. At Wye River in Maryland, the parties agreed to divide the second phase of Oslo II into three stages totaling 13 percent of Area C. Two percent of this land would become nature preserves in Area B, effectively preventing its use by Palestinians. Palestinians were to double down on their security coordination and stop “incitement.” In any case, Israel only completed 2 percent of this staged withdrawal.

In early 1999, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze the accord’s implementation, causing his opposition to withdraw from the government and bringing about new elections in May of that year.

The five-year interim period established by the Oslo Accords expired in May, 1999.