The US State Department has erased the word “occupation” from its description of the Golan Heights and the Palestinian territories in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which it published on Wednesday.Graham deservces considerable credit for his own efforts in getting Israel's sovereignty recognized. As for the paper itself, they may deserve a demerit for saying "captured" instead of "RE-captured", ditto for acting as though calling Judea/Samaria what they were in Israeli history wasn't so.
Last year, it referred to the areas as “occupied” by Israel; now, it speaks of them as under Israeli “control.”
The change began gradually two years ago, when the State Department replaced the country designation of “Israel and the occupied territories” with “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.”
Within the 2017 report itself, however, the State Department last year still used the word “occupation” but much more sparingly. In 2016, the report referred to the occupied territories, and in 2017 it spoke of the Palestinian territories.
This year, the 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices made no mention of the word “occupation” at all.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981. The United States and the international community have never recognized that act. Since the Six-Day War, Israel has never annexed the West Bank, and it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Right-wing politicians have pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apply Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank, which they refer to as Judea and Samaria.
The shift on the Golan comes as US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham promised Netanyahu that he would work to sway the Trump administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights.
ISRAELI POLITICIANS took the linguistic shift as an affirmative nod from the Trump administration on the acceptance of the Golan as part of sovereign Israel and support for the annexation of the West Bank.Now this is what one calls success in seeking recognition for historical facts. Probably the only person who could possible loath it is somebody like former ambassador Martin Indyk, formerly of both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama's staffs, who said it "belongs to Syria", all because leftists like him say so. The man is still an utter disgrace who clearly doesn't recognize the Trump administration either. Guess Indyk remains one very vindictive member of the Democrats who can't appreciate a positive step being done. No matter. Graham, on the other hand, is a fine man who's doing a lot of good on his part, and has. This is very good for Israel in foreign relations.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, “The nation has long been with the Golan, now [US President Donald] Trump is also. Thank you, President Trump, for another important step on the path of truth and justice – for the Golan Heights and for Judea and Samaria. The next step: the application of sovereignty [in Judea and Samaria]!” Edelstein said.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) called on Netanyahu to take action, explaining that the State Department shift in language provided a “window of opportunity” for such a step.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) thanked Israel’s “great friend” the United States, which “continues to stand for historical truth.
“The fact that the term ‘occupied territory’ is absent from an official [US] State Department document is an important step for Israel’s foreign relations and the future of the [West Bank] settlements,” Hotovely said.
She credited both Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry for the State Department’s linguistic shift.
“I welcome the move. I’m confident that in the future, other countries will also stand by Israel,” Hotovely said.
Yesha Council foreign envoy and Efrat Council head Oded Revivi said it was a “welcome and courageous act by the US administration that has consistently resisted the standard international consensus when it diverged with reality, just like the US government’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum said, “This is a massive change in how America relates to the conflict. It is coming to understand that while Israel and the Palestinians have a dispute, international law does not provide the answers to that dispute. The report, also for the first time, expresses skepticism at the claims and submissions of anti-Israel groups, whose poorly documented allegations have previously been accepted as gospel.”