In the US State Department’s annual human rights violations report released on Friday, Judea and Samaria, previously referred to as “occupied territory” as a matter of policy, were referred to as “the West Bank”.
This changes a State Department policy that has remained in place since 1979.
The report did use the term “occupied territories” once.
“Israeli authorities did not permit Palestinians who were abroad during the 1967 War or whose residence permits the Israeli government subsequently withdrew to reside permanently in the occupied territories,” the report stated. “It was difficult for foreign-born spouses and children of Palestinians to obtain residency. Authorities required Palestinian spouses of Jerusalem residents to obtain a residency permit with reported delays of several years to obtain them.”
Last December, David Friedman requested the State Department change the policy and refrain from using the term “occupied territory”.
The report also made note of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“On December 6, 2017, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the report said. “It is the position of the United States that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties.”
The report, covering events of 2017, did not give Israel a free pass and in the section dealing with the region, was critical of violations it considered Israel to be guilty of. These allegations included arbitrary arrests, demolitions of Palestinian homes, confiscation of Palestinian property, interrogations that used harsh techniques, and restricting Palestinians’ rights to peacefully assemble and protest.
“The most significant human rights issues included terrorist attacks targeting civilians and politically and religiously motivated killings by nonstate groups and individuals; administrative detention of Palestinians, often extraterritorially in Israel; and legal requirements and official rhetoric that adversely affected the operating environment for human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).”
Th report was also critical of Hamas, accusing the terror organization of killings, torture, arbitrary arrests of minors and homosexuals, and forced child labor. The US report also accused Hamas of “rocket and mortar attacks against civilian targets in Israel, and they did so at or near civilian locations in Gaza.”
The report also contained other significant changes, removing a section on “reproductive rights” that was introduced by President Obama in 2011. In its place is a section for each country called “coercion in population control” outlining involuntary sterilization.
The report was issued under the auspices of Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan who replaced Rex Tillerson.