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.

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 al-Rahma

One of the Arabic names for names for an eighth, ancient gate in the wall of the Old City of Jerusalem that has been closed since the 16th century. See also Bab al-DhahabiGolden 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.

Bab al-Silisileh

One of the main entrances to al Aqsa Mosque, built during the Ayoubi era. Situated in the western boundary wall of the mosque. It is relatively high, having a double wooden door with a small opening that allows a single person to pass through when the double door is closed.

There are 15 gates leading to the Masjid al Aqsa compound of which 10 are open and five are closed. Most gates are located on the western boundary wall of the mosque. The keys to all the gates, with the exception of the Maghrebi gate are held by the Islamic waqf. However, they can only open or close gates with the permission of the Israeli police, who control access to the site. See also Chain Gate.

Balfour Declaration

A public statement written by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour on November 2, 1917, in a letter to Walter Rothschild, a Jewish Zionist leader and British financier, on behalf of the British Government. The statement declared British King George V’s commitment to facilitate the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish “national home.” Rothschild was to transmit the statement, published in The Times, to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.  

Importantly, Britain made this declaration even though World War I was not yet over, and Britain had not yet captured Palestine from the Ottomans, which it did one month later. In the declaration, Balfour added the key phrase “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” This phrase was never followed through upon.  

For over a century, Palestinians have condemned the declaration to be a clear indication of British and Zionist schemes in Palestine at the expense of non-Jewish Palestinians, and of Britain’s repeated betrayals of the Arabs following its failure to deliver on its promise of granting the Arabs an independent kingdom in 1916. 

Benvenisti Trust

A Jewish trust founded by Jewish philanthropists and registered with Jerusalem’s sharia court in 1899, when the area was under Ottoman rule. The trust built structures in Silwan to house Jewish immigrants from Yemen, who abandoned the area during the 1936–39 Great Palestinian Revolt. Today, 700 Palestinians live in this area, known as Batn al-Hawa. In 2001, Ateret Cohanim received permission from the Jerusalem District Court to revive the trust and serve as its trustees, and, in 2002, the Custodian General transferred 5.2 dunums of land in Batn al-Hawa to the trust. Since then, Ateret Cohanim has controlled the trust, utilizing it to displace Palestinians from Silwan and settle Jews in their place. 


Hebrew acronym for the Brit Yosef Trumpeldor youth movement founded in Poland in 1923 and an offshoot of the world Revisionist movement led by Vladimir Jabotinsky, which had a stated goal of establishing a Jewish state across all of Palestine and Jordan. Jabotinsky was elected leader of Betar in 1931. With 70,000 members by 1934, Betar became one of the largest and most  influential youth movements in Poland and across Europe, as well as Palestine, and it provided a strong base of support to the Revisionist movement. Its vision was for a Jewish state in Palestine and it was characterized by militarism, authoritarianism, support for the European Right, and anti-socialism. Betar thus became an incubator for the development of right-wing Zionist ideas and its supporters were sometimes referred to as “Jewish Fascists.” In Palestine, Betar members facilitated illegal Jewish immigration and were active instigators of disturbances and violence, frequently bombing Arab civilian areas in response to attacks and waging guerilla warfare against the British. Betar eventually joined with Irgun, sharing leadership and cadres. Menahem Begin, who went on to become Israeli prime minister, led the two movements during the 1940s, including a revolt against the British in 1944 and fighting against the Palestinians in 1947–8. See also al-Buraq Uprising, Irgun, Lehi.


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. 


The largest categorization size in the Israeli land registry, approximately equal to a city block. A registry block is made up of smaller “parcels.” See also sub-parcel.

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.

al-Buraq Uprising

On August 15, 1929, a group of Zionists led by members of Betar demonstrated at al-Buraq Wall, or the Western Wall, a place that is holy to Jews. They raised the Zionist flag and sang the Zionist anthem in provocation of the city’s Palestinians. In response, Palestinians rioted, leading to a week of violence in which 113 Jews and 116 Arabs were killed and over 200 wounded. Importantly, the riots came after years of expanding Jewish immigration to Palestine, as well as a British Mandate decision to increase the number of Jewish worshippers allowed access to the Western Wall, which had been under Muslim authority for centuries. With growing support for the Zionist movement among British Mandate authorities, Palestinians feared a Zionist takeover of the city’s holy sites. In fact, the bulk of the clashes was between Palestinians and British police, and it is believed that mandate authorities underreported Palestinian casualties. Also referred to as the Buraq Disturbances, Western Wall Disturbances, and Western Wall Uprising.

al-Buraq Wall

The Arabic name for the Western Wall, Jerusalem’s most important Jewish site, which is also part of al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, Jerusalem’s most significant site for Muslims. Its name derives from an Islamic tradition that relates how the Prophet Muhammad traveled “from the Sacred Mosque [Mecca] to the Farthest Mosque [al-Aqsa]” (Quran 17:1), riding al-Buraq, a supernatural steed from Paradise. He tied his horse by the wall, went in to pray, then ascended to Paradise. Later that same evening, he remounted al-Buraq and returned to Mecca.

Once forming the northern border of the Haret al-Maghariba, home to a diverse community of Palestinians who were expelled when Israel razed the neighborhood in 1967, the al-Buraq Wall located below Bab al-Maghariba is today a fortified area attended by large gatherings of Jewish worshippers. Its Palestinian and Arab character meticulously erased by Israel, today the Buraq Wall is more widely known as the Western Wall (or the Wailing Wall pre-1967 when Jews were said to mourn for it). Importantly, it was the site of the 1929 al-Buraq Uprising, instigated by Palestinian protests against a provocative Zionist rally there, as well as against the increased Judaization of Palestine.

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.

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.