The United States’ ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, tried earlier this year to get the State Department to stop using the word “occupation” when referring to Israel’s presence in the West Bank.
As first reported by the Israeli Broadcasting Authority on Tuesday, Friedman asked career diplomats at the State Department to seek alternatives for the terms “occupation” and “Israeli-occupied territories.” He suggested using the term “West Bank,” which Friedman described as more neutral.
Friedman’s request was initially turned down by officials at the State Department, but upon his insistence, the department agreed to discuss the issue.
A State Department official said in response that there is no change in U.S. policy regarding the West Bank, and a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Israel called the report “misleading” and “twisted.”
Since being appointed by President Trump to serve as U.S. ambassador to Israel, Friedman has made clear that his views don’t always fall in line with long-standing State Department policies. He argued in an interview that Israel only occupies only two percent of the West Bank, and has refused to embrace a two-state solution as the preferred outcome for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
David Friedman Asked State To Stop Saying ‘Occupation’