WASHINGTON (JTA) — Reports that the U.S. ambassador to Israel asked the State Department to stop calling the West Bank “occupied” are misleading, a department official said.
Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported on Tuesday that David Friedman asked the State Department to stop calling Israel’s control over the West Bank an “occupation” in official documents. He reportedly recommended using the term “West Bank territory” instead of the “occupied territories.”
The State Department rejected the request, according to Kan, but agreed to take up the subject again in the future.
”This is a misleading, twisted report,” a State Department official told JTA in an email. The official did not say what about the report was misleading.
“The president is committed to facilitating a comprehensive peace agreement that will benefit both the Israelis and Palestinians and we remain hard at work on those efforts,” the official said.
In a September interview with an Israeli news website, Friedman said, “I think the settlements are part of Israel.” The State Department later distanced itself from the remark.
Prior to taking up his ambassadorial position, Friedman served as president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, which raises money for a large West Bank settlement.