Glossary of Terms

Absentees Property Law (1950): 
The law enabled the Israeli government to take possession of real estate, financial instruments, currency and other goods of Palestinian Arab "absentees." According to the law, even the property of Palestinians who were present within the newly created state of Israel, but were not physically present on their property ("internal refugees" or more commonly referred to as internally displaced persons), becomes "absentee property." This creates the category of "present absentees." The confiscated property was given to Custodian of Absentee Property, under the possession of the State and was later sold to the Israeli Lands Administration and the Jewish National Fund.
Today, 25% of the Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel are “present absentees” or internal refugees, and are barred from returning to their pre-1948 homes. 

Admissions Committees Law (2011): 
This law, which functions in 695 agricultural communities in 69% of towns and 85% of villages in Israel, allows community admissions committees to reject applications for residency based on an applicant’s “social unsuitability.” By law, these committees must include members of the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organization. “Social unsuitability” has already been interpreted by some communities to mean citizens who do not have Zionist values or do not support the “Zionist vision.”

Blueprint Negev: 
A JNF campaign, presented at the Herzliya Conference in 2003, which aims to develop and establish 25 new Jewish communities in the Negev. The campaign intends to attract Jewish residents by developing the desert via new forests, man-made lakes, army bases, railways and so forth. Many of the current JNF forests are planted on Bedouin Palestinian lands.
“It’s a dream, it was David Ben Gurion’s dream, it’s been a dream of many, many people, and I think the time is now. If the time is not now, we will lose, we will lose the Negev, we will lose our chance. We would lose it not only to the Bedouins, but we would lose it to people who would normally move here from the Diaspora, who would decide not to move here.” - Ronald Lauder, the JNF
Read the full text of his speech from the Herzliya Conference:

Disengagement Law (2005): 
Following the withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, there were negotiations to re-settle the Jewish settlers in the Negev. Settlers received compensation to purchase land in the Negev. The Home Demolition Unit and Office of Bedouin Administration were established to deal with the Bedouin “situation.” Settlers renting the land were given $17,000 per dunam, while the Bedouin Palestinian citizens were asked to sell their lands for $1000 per dunam (only during exchanges like this are Bedouin citizens considered as legal owners of their lands).

A dunam is a unit of measurement which was used during the Ottoman Empire. A metric dunam is equal to 1000 square meters.

Goldberg Commission: 
In late 2007, the Israeli government established a commission to make recommendations to “solve the problem of the Bedouin in the Negev.” Retired Supreme Court Justice Eliezer Goldberg presided over the commission, which consisted of 8 members - 6 Jews and 2 Arabs - none of whom were residents of the unrecognized villages. The commission recommended that the State recognize villages that have a "critical mass" of permanent residents and that do not interfere with other state plans. In practice this would be limited to the recognition of only a few of the unrecognized villages. The Commission also called for the establishment of several claims committees to deal with Bedouin ownership claims and provide financial compensation for expropriated land. In May 2009, the government established the Prawer Committee to outline a plan to implement the Goldberg Commission's recommendations.

Israeli Basic Laws: 
The first Israeli Knesset created basic laws on various subjects to form the basis of a future constitution. These laws are considered to be the cornerstone of the State’s institutions and are as follows:
The Knesset (1958)
Israel Lands (1960)
The President of the State (1964)
The Government (1968-null)
The State Economy (1975)
The Military (1976)
Jerusalem Law (1980)
The Judiciary (1984)
The State Comptroller (1988)
Human Dignity and Liberty (1992)
The Government (1992-null)
Freedom of Occupation (1992-null)
Freedom of Occupation (1994)
The Government (2001)

Israeli Knesset: 
The legislative body in Israel, which passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister, approves the cabinet and assists the government, is composed of 120 members from various political parties. The Knesset composition is determined according to a proportion of votes gained during the general elections.

Israeli Land Administration (ILA): 
The ILA is a government institution that governs over 93% of the land in Israel. Therefore, most land in Israel is not privately owned but leased by individual citizens or groups from the ILA or other semi-governmental institutions involved in the ILA, such as the JNF. The ILA council, as of 2012, has 8 members, 2 of which are from the JNF.
Visit their website at:

ILA Law (1960): 
The law states that 50% of the seats on ILA council must be reserved for JNF representatives. This law was enacted until the past year, when an amendment changed the law so that now only 2/8 council members are from the JNF.
Jewish National Federation (JNF): 
The JNF is a semi-private institution that has mandated the buying and distribution of land in Israel solely to the Jewish people since 1901.
Visit their website at:

Land Acquisition Law: 
On March 10, 1953, the Israeli Knesset enacted a law which allows the government to acquiesce private land without the consent of the owners. According to the law, the land can be apprehended for “purposes of essential development, settlement or security.” In practice, this law was used to confiscate 1-2 million dunams from 349 Palestinian Arab villages. A majority of the confiscated land was used to develop new Jewish settlements.

Land Day:
Land Day is commemorated annually by Palestinian Arabs on both sides of the Green Line (demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbors – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) to memorialize the six Palestinians who were killed while demonstrating against the expropriation of Galilee farmland in March 30th, 1976, which later became Jewish settlements. Land Day is also recognized as the first time since 1948 that the Palestinian Arab minority organized a protest against Israeli policy as a collective nation.

Meaning “Catastrophe” in Arabic, it refers to the events surrounding 1948 when Israel was established and most of the native Palestinians Arabs left, fled or were expelled from their ancestral land. “Nakba Day” is commemorated every year on May 15th by the Palestinian Arab minority and coincides with “Yom Ha’atzmaut” (Israeli Independence Day).
In March 2011, the Israeli Knesset passed a law to amend the Budgets Foundations Law (Amendment No. 40 – 2011) which allows the Minister of Finance to reduce government funding for any organization that engages in a list of activities, one of which is commemorating Israeli Independence Day as a day of mourning. Many human rights NGOs in Israel has petitioned against this amendment, which is popularly referred to as “The Nakba Law.” 

Or Commission: 
Chaired by Judge Theodore Or, the Or Commission of Inquiry was established in the beginning of the Second Intifada in October 2000 to investigate the murders of 13 Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel by police forces. One of the Commission’s recommendations was for the Israeli government to take long-term and immediate corrective measures towards the Arab minority in Israel.
Palestinian Arab Citizens in Israel: 
The approximately 1.6 million Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel comprise 20% of the population and are made up of Muslim, Christian and Druze communities. The community is divided between the Galilee in the North, the Triangle in the Center, the Naqab (Negev) in the South, and mixed cities, including Haifa, Akka, Jaffa, Lod, and Ramle. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, those Palestinian Arabs that remained were formally declared Israeli citizens but lived under military rule from 1948 until 1966, which applied only to them. Today, the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel is subject to systematic and institutionalized discrimination. There are over thirty-five laws that discriminate against the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel in the areas of land and planning, socio-economic rights and civil and political rights. 

Prawer Plan: 
The Israeli government established the Prawer Committee in May 2009 to outline a plan to implement the Goldberg Commission’s recommendations. However, the Prawer plan, approved by the government in 2011, reverses many of the significant admissions of the Goldberg Commission. Goldberg stated that the Bedouin residents are not “squatters” but rather citizens entitled to equal rights, and that the unrecognized villages should be recognized “to the extent possible.” Instead of recognizing the Bedouin community’s historic connection to the land and legalizing existing unrecognized villages, it asserts that the government should “establish new communities.” If the Prawer plan’s recommendations come into effect, the Bedouin community will be forced to face the imminent prospect of mass displacement; the removal of 40,000 citizens from their ancestral lands.  The Prawer plan is currently pending in the Knesset and is set to be voted on in July. 
Principles of Agreement between the State and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) (2009): 
The agreement states that the JNF will transfer lands it has allocated to third parties to the State in exchange for equal amounts of “available and unplanned” State land in the Negev and the Galilee. The JNF lands that are transferred to the State will be “managed in a way that preserves the principles of the JNF,” meaning, they will be sold solely to Jewish citizens. This was signed in blatant disregard for the 2005 Supreme Court ruling in which Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ruled that as a state body, the ILA is obligated to market JNF lands to non-Jews as well.

Meaning “fence” in Arabic, it is a restricted area in the northeastern Negev, where twelve Bedouin tribes from different areas across the Negev were forcibly moved in the 1950s and 1960s. The purpose of the Siyag is to locate maximum Bedouin citizens on minimum lands. The Siyag area accounts for only 10% of the Bedouin former lands. The Siyag includes seven government-created townships or “rikudim,” Hura, Lakiya, Rahat, Segev Shalom, Tel Sheva, Arara B’Negev and Kseife, all of which rank in the nine poorest towns in Israel. 

Trachtenberg Committee: 
Following the 2011 socio-economic protest movement in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed this committee to investigate domestic socio-economic issues. The Committee’s recommendations were published in September 2011. Many human rights organizations were unsatisfied with the Committee’s findings and the government adopted only a portion of their recommendations.
To read Mossawa’s response to the Trachtenberg Committee’s recommendations, please click here.

Unrecognized Villages: 
30-45 Bedouin villages in the Negev are considered “illegal settlements” that are deprived of basic services such as electricity, sewage infrastucture and water, and do not appear on any official map. The population of these villages is about 100,000 citizens. The residents of unrecognized villages face house demolitions regularly and repeatedly.

“Yishuv,” or “settlement” in Hebrew, refers to Jewish residents that were living in Palestine previous to 1948. A distinction is drawn between the Old Yishuv and the New Yishuv: The Old Yishuv refers to the Jews living in Palestine before the first wave of Zionist immigration in 1882. The Old Yishuv residents were religious Jews, living mainly in Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron. The New Yishuv refers to European Jews (also known as Ashkenazi Jews) from the first wave of Zionist immigration in 1882.