US State Department stops referring to Judea and Samaria as ‘occupied’

In a significant policy change, the State Department ceased using the term “occupied” in references to various regions of Israel, including Judea and Samaria.

By: World Israel News Staff

In a US State Department annual report on human rights, the controversial term “occupied” was largely eliminated in references to various territories in and adjacent to Israel. While the term “occupied” had been used in such reports since the Carter administration, the 2017 version drops this term, which is generally used pejoratively to criticize Israeli policy following military victories through which the Jewish state acquired control of various territories.

The change comes after US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman advised the department in December to stop using the “misleading” term “occupied” in references to Judea and Samaria

At the time, Friedman remarked in an interview, “I think the settlements [in Judea and Samaria] 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.

The term “occupied” is considered by many to be a loaded phrase intended to demonize Israel with regard to its activities in disputed areas. According to policy expert Dan Diker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), “Friedman is advancing Trump administration policy to correct past mistakes and misconceptions of American diplomats. Since the Oslo Accords in 1995, the most densely Palestinian populated areas in the territories are designated as ‘Area A’ and ‘Area B,’ which are under Palestinian autonomy, and are certainly not legally occupied.”

Mark Zell, who heads Republicans in Israel, commented to World Israel News in December that “Ambassador Friedman is fighting back against bureaucratic inertia and State Department Arabists.”

In response to the State Department’s subsequent change in terminology, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman tweeted over the weekend, “The lie of the occupied Palestinian territories begins to be revealed. They say that a lie repeated often enough becomes true, but the truth is forever stronger. The State Department report is proof of that.”