US cuts references to Israeli ‘occupation’ of Golan, Judea and Samaria in key report

Marking a major shift in terminology, the U.S. stopped referring to key territories as “occupied” by Israel in the State Department’s annual human rights report.

By World Israel News Staff

Diverging from a decades-long policy of characterizing the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria as “occupied” by Israel, the United States Department of State began referring to the territories as under Israeli “control” in its  annual human rights report, released on Wednesday.

The shift arrives amid comments from U.S. lawmakers like Senator Lindsey Graham expressing support for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which the Jewish state initially captured in 1967 during the Six-Day War and annexed for all intents and purposes in 1981.

Graham toured the area on Monday and commented, “The Golan is not disputed. It is in the hands of Israel and will always remain in the hands of Israel. My goal is to try to explain this to the [Trump] administration.”

The State Department report also removed references to “occupation” from sections of the annual human rights report addressing Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, the latter of which Israel completely disengaged from in 2005.

With regard to whether a policy shift had occurred within the State Department, an official commented, “The policy on the status of the territories has not changed,” adding that the the report focuses on human rights matters, not terms related to international law.

Spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, expressed displeasure at the change in terminology.

Meanwhile, Washington recently announced it will release President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian “deal of the century” peace plan some time after Israel‘s April 9 election.