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The glossary is comprised of nearly 250 terms related to the Israeli-Palestinian context. Given the rapidly shifting landscape, these terms cannot capture the full range of nuances, narratives and historical events. This tool is meant as a starting point and we encourage you to continue your exploration of this topic through further research. Last update and review: September 2015.


Known officially as the "State of Israel," the country was established on May 15, 1948, in the midst of the 1948 War and immediately after the end of the British Mandate. Its establishment as a Jewish homeland was the fruition of the goal of the Zionist movement, which had begun in the late 19th Century. Israel is located in the Middle East, with Egypt bordering on the South, Lebanon and Syria on the North, and Jordan to the East. Israel's internationally recognized borders are its 1948 borders (which are considerably larger than the borders drawn in the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan); however, since the 1967 war, Israel has also occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip and there are hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Many of the settlers and their supporters advocate for a "Greater Israel" where a large amount of the land conquered in 1967 would be annexed to Israel. (Israel also conquered the Golan Heights in the 1967 war, and it was annexed shortly thereafter. The Sinai Peninsula, also conquered in that war, was returned to Egypt as part of the first Camp David Accords. In Israel's 1992 Basic Law, it defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic state. The tension between these two terms functioning in a multi-ethno-religious state such as Israel, where approximately 80% of Israeli citizens are Jewish, and most of the remaining 20% are Palestinian Citizens of Israel, has led to a great deal of debate. See "Zionists Proclaim New State of Israel," Gene Currivan, The New York Times, May 15, 1948. See also "The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel," Jeremy Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, Oct 26, 2010; and "Jewish and Democratic? A Rejoinder to the 'Ethnic Democracy' Debate," Ruth Gavison, Israel Studies, 1999 4 (1).