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… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)
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“For He is our peace, Who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, …”

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The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition
US Still Considers Territories “Occupied”

Retrived from at
Copyright 1995-2002 The Jerusalem Post -

by Janine Zacharia
Aug. 8, 2002

“Israel has an unassailable legal right to establish settlements in the West Bank.”

— Eugene Rostow
Former Dean of Yale Law School
Undersecretary of State under L.B.J.

“Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, …”

— Prof. Stephen Schwebel
U.S. State Department Legal Advisor
President, International Court of Justice
in The Hague

The Bush administration, playing down remarks made by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made clear Wednesday that it still regards the West Bank and Gaza Strip as territories “occupied” by Israel.

The clarification came after Rumsfeld said Tuesday that the "so-called occupied territories" were captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war after neighboring countries, despite warnings, "got involved and lost a lot of real estate."

Rumsfeld also said that it would be difficult for Israel to transfer territory to the Palestinian Authority, which has been "involved in terrorist activities."

Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PA information minister, called Rumsfeld "a representative of the extreme right-wing of Likud."

US President George W. Bush has accused the Palestinian leadership of being compromised by terrorism.

But he has also agreed to try to help negotiate a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the next three years once a new responsible Palestinian leadership is elected and other reforms are made.

Daniel Kurtzer, the US ambassador to Israel, said yesterday that Rumsfeld was speaking only for himself and that his remarks did not signal a change in US policy.

"Secretary Rumsfeld made clear in what was a town meeting for Defense Department employees that he was speaking personally. He also made clear that the policy on this issue is made by President Bush. I think the president's June 24 speech speaks for itself and the secretary fully agrees with that," Kurtzer told Israel Television.

Asked how he refers to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Kurtzer replied: "I use the language of the president of the United States. And he talked in his speech about the territories that were occupied in 1967."

Secretary of State Colin Powell first vowed to help put an end to Israeli "occupation" in a speech in Louisville, Kentucky, in November.

Update 10 June 2009

“Speaking … on CNN's Larry King Weekend … [Palestinian spokeswoman] Hanan Ashrawi [identified] ‘the occupation which has gone on too long’ as an example of one of terrorism's sources. In other words, according to Ashrawi, the violence of the intifada emanates from the ‘occupation.’ … Mustafa Barghouti, president of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and a frequent guest on CNN … asserted that: ‘the root of the problem [with Palestinian terrorism] is Israeli occupation.’ Writing in the Washington Post on January 16, 2002, Marwan Barghouti, head of Arafat's Fatah PLO faction in the West Bank, continued this theme with an article entitled: ‘Want Security? End the Occupation.’ This has become the most ubiquitous line of argument today among Palestinian spokesmen, who have to contend with the growing international consensus against terrorism as a political instrument.”

On 3 Shvat 5762 (16 January 2002) Dore Gold of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs wrote an article suggesting that the wording of this epithet be changed “From ‘Occupied Territories’ to ‘Disputed Territories,’” a  much less-inflammatory term, to be sure.

However, as of January 5, 2014, a quick “Google” of the U.S. State Department website shows clearly that the United States still officially considers Israel to be “occupying” Palestinian territory.

Retrieved Sunday, 5 April 2020 from

State Dept. no longer using phrase “occupied territories” for Golan, West Bank, Gaza

The US State Department changed its usual description of the Golan Heights from “Israeli-occupied” to “Israeli-controlled” in an annual global human rights report released on Wednesday.

by TOVAH LAZAROFF MARCH 14, 2019 00:00

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.

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.

At a Wednesday State Department press conference in Washington about the report, Michael Kozak from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor downplayed the move.

“My understanding is that there is no change in our outlook or our policy vis-à-vis the territories and the need for a negotiated settlement there,” Kozak said.

A reporter pressed him on the point: “You no longer consider the West Bank to be occupied?”

“No. I said that our policy on the status has not changed. That is my understanding. We decided not to use the term in the reports because it is not a human rights term and it was distracting,” Kozak said.

The linguistic change was made by the regional bureau of the Office of the Legal Adviser, Kozak said.

“What we’re trying to do is report on the human rights situation in those territories.... You’re just trying to find a way of describing the place that you are reporting on. ‘Occupied territory’ has a legal meaning to it. What they tried to do was shift more to just a geographic description. So we said Israel, Golan, West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.”

“It’s a complicated report because there are sometimes multiple authorities who have authority over people in particular parts of that territory. So it’s a very complicated one to write,” Kozak said.

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.

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.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

Page last revised on Sunday, 5 April 2020

Page last updated on Thursday, 25 February 2021 09:59 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return