Washington No Longer Refers to Golan as 'Israel-Occupied'

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The US no longer refers to the Golan Heights as an "Israeli-occupied" territory in its latest annual human rights report, published Wednesday, though the State Department insists the wording change doesn't mean a policy change. 

The report now calls the area the "Israeli-controlled Golan Heights."

When asked about the change on such a sensitive Middle East subject, a senior US official told reporters in Washington "there's no change in our outlook or our policy vis-a-vis these territories and the need for a negotiated settlement there."

"This, by the way, is not a human rights issue, it's a legal status issue," said Michael Kozak of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. 

"What we try to do is to report on the human rights situation in those territories, and so you're just trying to find the way of describing the place that you're reporting on," he said. "And 'occupied territory' has a legal meaning to it; I think what they tried to do is to shift more to just a geographic description."

And another semantic change that appeared in last year's report showed up again this year, with a section titled "Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza," instead of its previous "Israel and the Occupied Territories" heading.

President Donald Trump, who has shown robust support for close US ally Israel, recognized Jerusalem as the country's capital in 2017, defying international consensus much to the chagrin of Palestinian leaders, who view Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Israel seized much of the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and then effectively annexed it in 1981, a move that was never recognized by the international community. 

Israel and Syria remain technically at war after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, though a demilitarized border zone established through an armistice had long been relatively calm until the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Influential Trump ally US Senator Lindsey Graham said Monday during a visit to the Golan Heights with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would push for US recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the strategic region "now and forever." 

Comments 9
Thumb canadianleb 14 March 2019, 13:42

Lets see what Syria will do about this... Nothing....

Missing greatpierro 14 March 2019, 13:47

for sure the Golanis are far better off living within Israel rather within Syria

Thumb canadianleb 14 March 2019, 14:00

but at the end of the day the land belongs to Syria, and as per the new constitution of Israel the Golanis will not be considered Israelis, so the only one better off is Israel.

Thumb whyaskwhy 14 March 2019, 15:26

In reality who says what land belongs to whom? its the people of that live in that particular land that need to determine that. for the last 5,000 years the area has been a turmoil, we have seen a dozen civilization come and go and no doubt we will see another dozen repeat the same over the next 5,000 years. If the inhabitants choose Syria they are screwed and if the choose Israel the arabs will call them traitors.

Missing phillipo 14 March 2019, 15:31

What happens after wars.
Germany loses Alsace Lorraine to France
Austro-Hungary loses Trentino to Italy
Mexico loses Texas to USA
Syria loses Golan to Israel.
In the first three cases they have all lived with it, why can't they in the 4th example?

Thumb s.o.s 14 March 2019, 19:15

By the time Arabs achieve this, it’ll mean they’ll be an advanced and pacific civilization with no reason to be vindictive towards Israel. Either way, the Palos are screwed and should get used to it.

Look at the Indians in the Americas, from Canada to Brazil they are being deprived of their land by “democracies”.

Thumb thepatriot 14 March 2019, 19:58

especially when Syria has done nothing in over 40 years to reclaim it... It tried to annex Lebanon instead...

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 15 March 2019, 03:41

SoS ... The Arab people would not tolerate an apartheid Israel in their midst. Israel would either make peace with justice or make peace with its Good.

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 15 March 2019, 03:42

With it's GOD