The US State Department released its annual report on human rights violations around the world on Friday, and there was at least one discernible difference from past reports: It no longer refers to the West Bank as “occupied.”
Whereas previous iterations of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices had a section on “Israel and the Occupied Territories,” this year’s document refers instead to “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.”
Last December, it was reported that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman asked the State Department to stop calling the West Bank occupied, which would mark a noted departure in US policy.
No indication of any change in that regard had materialized — until now.
In the past, Friedman had made remarks that were rebuffed by Washington as not reflecting official policy. Last September he told Israel’s Walla news site he thought “the settlements are part of Israel.”
State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert, however, later told reporters his comments indicated no shift in the US position. Before his confirmation to the diplomatic role, Friedman was a staunch settlements supporter and columnist for right-wing Israeli publications.
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Source: Times of Israel