Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

US State Dept. No Longer Calling Golan, Gaza, West Bank 'Occupied Territory'

US State Dept. No Longer Calling Golan, Gaza, West Bank 'Occupied Territory'

In its latest human rights report published on Wednesday, the United States referred to the Golan Heights as "Israeli-controlled" as opposed to "Israeli-occupied".

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

A separate section in the State Department report, on the West Bank and Gaza, did not include the terms "occupied" or under "occupation" in referring to the Palestinian territories.

The document also suggests that the entire city of Jerusalem is a part of Israel.

Hours before the USA report was released, Israel accused a suspected Lebanese Hezbollah operative who was previously held in Iraq over the killing of five US military personnel of now setting up a guerrilla network on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan for cross-border attacks.

Diplomat Michael Kozak acknowledged the change in a briefing Wednesday. What we've uncovered today is just the tip of the iceberg.

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 global law.

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"'Occupied territory' has a legal meaning to it".

The word "occupation" appears only three times in the report, but in two instances it refers to jobs when addressing occupational discrimination and labour rights.

The move came amid intensified efforts by Israel to win USA recognition of its claim to sovereignty over the strategic plateau it captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and effectively annexed in 1981, a step not recognized internationally.

Israel captured the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel has said it is prepared to see the Assad regime resume full control of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights but will not tolerate Hizbollah or Iranian forces in the area.

"Daqduq has a well deserved reputation of a villain in Iraq, there is a lot of American blood on his hands", former USA ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) told The Post on Thursday, adding that "for Americans and particularly those involved in this episode there's no difference in the analysis about the sort of nefarious actor he is". The vote was 151 to 2, with the U.S. and Israel the only opponents of the declaration.

This week, however, senior Republican politicians in the U.S., including Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, said they would "start an effort to recognise the Golan as part of the State of Israel now and forever".

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