Last updated August 02 2017


A Jewish nationalist movement with the goal of the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews. The Holocaust led many Jews to seek refuge in Palestine and many others, especially in the United States, to embrace Zionism. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations (UN) proposed partition of the country into separate Arab and Jewish states and the internationalization of Jerusalem. The creation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, triggered an invasion by the neighboring Arab countries. By the time armistice agreements were signed in 1949, Israel held more land than had been allotted to it under the UN partition plan.


United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 was adopted on December 11, 1948, near the end of the first Arab–Israeli War. The resolution defined principles for reaching a final settlement and returning Palestinian refugees to their homes. The UN General Assembly has reaffirmed Resolution 194 every year since 1949. Israel has since rejected any resolution calling on it to allow Palestinians to return to Israel. Since General Assembly resolutions are not binding, and only serve as advisory statements, there can be no obligation or enforcement of Resolution 194. However, multiple subsequent resolutions from the United Nations have reaffirmed the right of return, including General Assembly Resolution 169 (1980), and Security Council Resolution 237 (1967).


“The Catastrophe” in Arabic. It refers to the destruction of Palestinian society in 1948 when approximately 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forced into exile by Israeli troops. Zionist forces depopulated more than 450 Palestinian towns and villages, most of which were demolished to prevent the return of refugees. These comprised three-quarters of the Palestinian villages inside the areas held by Israeli forces after the end of the war. The newly established Israeli government confiscated refugees’ land and properties and turned them over to Jewish immigrants.


Term used to describe the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, which are occupied or otherwise under the control of Israel. Israeli governments have maintained that the area involved is within territorial dispute. Israel occupied the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War of 1967, which had been earlier occupied by Jordan and Egypt, respectively, and has maintained control of them since. In 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and considers the whole of Jerusalem to be its capital. The inclusion was condemned internationally and declared “null and void” by the United Nations Security Council. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, 135 UN member nations have recognized the State of Palestine, comprising the Palestinian territories. It has not been recognized by Israel or the United States.


An international political movement urging various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by: ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. Since the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions call was first disseminated, it has been endorsed by more than 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and human rights movements.


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