Biden Back to “Occupied” Territories

YERUSHALAYIM -

In its latest reversal of Trump administration policy, President Joe Biden’s State Department restored usage of the term “occupied” territories in reference to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

The Trump-led State Department dropped almost every mention of “occupation” from the department’s annual reports on human rights violations around the world in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

However, the 2020 report, released on Tuesday, does retain the chapter heading from the previous two years, “Israel, the West Bank and Gaza,” which did away with the decades-old “Israel and the Occupied Territories” label. That change was reportedly made at the behest of former U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

The 2020 chapter states that it “covers the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem territories that Israel occupied during the June 1967 war.”

However, it stipulates that “language in this report is not meant to convey a position on any final status issues to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the borders between Israel and any future Palestinian state.”