US envoy: Stop calling Judea and Samaria ‘occupied’

Will the US State Department change the way it relates to Judea and Samaria?

By: World Israel News Staff

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has requested that the State Department stop using the term “occupied” when relating to Israeli control of Judea and Samaria.

According to a report by Israel Radio on Tuesday, Friedman suggested that the State Department relate to Judea and Samaria in neutral terms by calling it the “West Bank” instead of “the occupied territories.”

The State Department has reportedly refused Friedman’s request, saying their terminology was the outcome of a decades-old policy, but due to “pressure from above” the two sides agreed that the issue will be discussed again and that President Donald Trump will make the final decision on the matter.

Friedman is a noted supporter of the communities in Judea and Samaria. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post in September, he said the region was under an “alleged occupation.”

In an expansive interview with Israeli media outlet Walla! the same month, Friedman provided insight into the direction the US envisions for Israel, as the Jewish state navigates shifting alliances in the region and its approach to resolving the Palestinian conflict. Among the topics the envoy addressed were Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and the future of the two-state solution.

With regard to the first point, Friedman explained, “I think the settlements are part of Israel,” which “was always the expectation when [UN] Resolution 242 was adopted.” He added, “The 1967 borders were viewed by everybody as not secure. There was always supposed to be some expectation of [Israeli] expansion” into Judea and Samaria.

Friedman referred to the “important nationalistic, historical and religious significance” of these communities, commenting, “I think the settlers view themselves as Israelis, and Israel views the settlers as Israelis.”

A State Department spokeswoman later said Friedman’s remarks “should not be read as a change in US policy.”

The first test for this possible shift in policy will be when the State Department publishes its report on the state of human rights around the globe, which has previously referred to Judea and Samaria as “occupied.”

The US embassy in Israel stated that the radio report was misleading and distorted, and that Trump is seeking a diplomatic solution which is acceptable to both sides.