The US State Department clarified that it considers the West Bank to be a territory occupied by Israel.
“It is a historic fact that Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights after the 1967 war,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
“In fact, the 2020 Human Rights Report uses the term ‘occupation’ in the context of the current status of the West Bank. This was a long-standing position of the previous administrations of both parties for many decades, “he added.
Price made the statements in response to a question about why the US State Department abandoned the use of the term “occupied territories” in the annual human rights report, the first of its annual reports since US President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, and whether it indicates a “type of constant policy change” and a “continuation of policy under the Trump administration.”
Although Price confirmed that the West Bank was an occupied territory, he avoided questioning whether the administration considered Israeli colonial settlements illegal.
Reports on human rights practices up to 2020 saw a change made by former US President Donald Trump in a report in which he replaced the phrase “Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” with “Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”
“This section of the report covers Israel within the line of the 1949 Armistice Agreement, as well as the Golan Heights and the territories of East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied during the June 1967 war and subsequently expanded its domestic legislation, jurisdiction and administration.”
“The United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017, and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in 2019. The purpose of this report is not to express a position on any final status issues to be agreed between the parties to the conflict, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the boundaries between Israel and any future Palestinian state.”