State Department strikes “Occupied Territories” from human rights report

Acting secretary of state John Sullivan speaks at the release of the 2017 human rights report Friday at the State Department. (photo: Win Mcnamee / Getty Images)

Instead, this year’s report refers to “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.”

By Carol Morello | The Washington Post | Apr 20, 2018


“[Israel] did maintain generally that all incidents [of alleged abuse] were thoroughly investigated and parties held accountable, as appropriate, according to due process of law.”
— 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices


The State Department’s annual human rights report released Friday drops references to reproductive rights for women and stops using the phrase “Occupied Territories” to describe Israel’s presence in Gaza and the West Bank.

The report, which covers 2017, focuses less on societal attitudes and discrimination than in previous years and more on governmental actions that encourage or reward violence and bigotry. It is the first human rights report to reflect the Trump administration’s views and priorities.

Previous reports included a lengthy section devoted to Israel and the Occupied Territories. Last year’s report mentioned human rights problems and said the Israeli government took “some steps” to punish officials who committed abuses.

This year, the section is titled “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.” The introduction to it notes that the State Department sought an Israeli response to allegations of abuse and that Israel “did maintain generally that all incidents were thoroughly investigated and parties held accountable, as appropriate, according to due process of law.”

State Department officials said reports issued by other parts of the government no longer refer to the West Bank and Gaza as the Occupied Territories and that the human rights report is simply catching up to what is now standard practice in the administration.

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