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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.


Also known as "colony." A Jewish Israeli community existing within the Occupied Palestinian Territories, outside the Green Line. Israelis who live in settlements are often referred to as "settlers." A conglomeration of Jewish Israeli settlements in the West Bank is known as a "Settlement bloc." One such example of a Settlement bloc is Gush Etzion, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The Settler movement began following the 1967 War, when Israel occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights in Syria and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Israel annexed the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, and withdrew its settlements from the Sinai following the Camp David Accords. Many proponents of the Settler movement claim that Settlement of the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a divine right, mandated by religious texts, and part of the Zionist imperative to settle the Land of Israel. Less ideological proponents regard settlements as a security necessity for Israel. Opponents argue that such settlements are illegal under international law (a position which is supported by the international community including the International Court of Justice, the United Nations, and the U.S. Government), that they annex Palestinian-owned land, and preclude the final status of disputed borders between the state of Israel and a future Palestinian state. By and large, settlements and settlers receive Israeli government funding and considerable subsidies, as well as military and infrastructural support. There are some Israelis who live in settlements for ideological reasons; others live in settlements (especially those considered "suburbs" of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv) to take advantage of the economic benefits. In 2005, the Israeli government initiated the Gaza Disengagement, withdrawing 8,000 settlers from Gaza and from a handful of settlements in the West Bank; however over 130 settlements remain in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), with a population of approximately 700,000 in 2014. Additionally, there are Settlement outposts, which were established by Jewish Israelis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories without seeking permission from the proper Israeli authorities; many of these later become official settlements and many more receive Israeli government support and funding, though the Israeli government has dismantled a few. Friction and violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians occurs frequently. When settlers initiate attacks against Palestinians and their property, the Israeli army rarely intervenes. See "Land Expropriation and Settlements," B'Tselem, Jan 23, 2014; "Population of Jewish settlements in West Bank up 15,000 in a year," Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, July 26, 2012; and "West Bank Settlement Blocs," Peace Now, May 2008. See also, "Lords of the Land: The War for Israel's Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007" Akiva Eldar, Nation Books, 2009.