The US State Department’s annual report on human rights violations published on Tuesday refers to Judea, Samaria, Gaza, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as territories “occupied” by Israel but does not title the chapter “Israel and the Occupied Territories”.
The title “Israel and the Occupied Territories” was the title used by the State Department until the Trump administration changed the custom, after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The 2020 report, which is the first to be released during the Biden administration, uses the label “Israel, the West Bank and Gaza” - the same chapter name from the last two reports issued during the Trump administration.
The report states it “covers the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem territories that Israel occupied during the June 1967 war” - a reference to the Six Day War - but also clarifies that “language in this report is not meant to convey a position on any final status issues to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the borders between Israel and any future Palestinian state.”
Lisa Peterson, acting top State Department official on human rights, said on Tuesday that the report's authors continued to believe it was better to assign geographic names.
"That's in line with our practices generally. We also believe it is clearer and more useful for readers seeking information on human rights in those specific areas," she told reporters, according to AFP.