U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has reportedly asked the State Department to drop using the term “occupied” when referring to Israel’s control over Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
According to a report by Kan, Israel’s Broadcasting Corporation, the State Department initially refused the recent request, but later agreed to discuss the matter after receiving pressure “from above”—an apparent reference to the White House. The report added that President Donald Trump will have the final decision on the terminology.
Friedman, who had strong ties to Israel’s Judea and Samaria region prior to his appointment by Trump, has at times experienced tension with his colleagues at the State Department. In an interview with the Israeli news outlet Walla in late September, Friedman said he believes that the settlements are “part of Israel.”
“I think that was always the expectation when [U.N.] Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967…the idea was that Israel would be entitled to secure borders,” Friedman said at the time. “The existing borders, the 1967 borders, were viewed by everybody as not secure, so Israel would retain a meaningful portion of the West Bank, and it would return that which it didn’t need for peace and security.”
Friedman’s comments prompted a response from the State Department that his remarks “should not be read as a shift in U.S. policy.”