The US State Department has reaffirmed its position which considers the West Bank as territory occupied by Israel.
“It is a historical fact that Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights after the 1967 War,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday.
The clarification came after the Department published its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2020.
The report affirmed steps taken by the previous administration of Donald Trump, which had both recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
It also kept in place a description change made to the report by former President Trump, in which he replaced the phrase “Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories” with “Israel, West Bank and Gaza.”
Asked if the US considers the West Bank an occupied territory by Israel, Price affirmed that it did.
“In fact, the 2020 Human Rights Report does use the term ‘occupation’ in the context of the current status of the West Bank,” Price said, adding that “this has been the longstanding position of previous administrations of both parties over the course of many decades.”
Earlier on Wednesday, a reporter asked Assistant Secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labour, Lisa Peterson if the department considers the West Bank “occupied by Israel”.
Peterson said the section on Israel and the Palestinian territories had been presented similar to previous years.
“This Human Rights Report refers to the commonly used geographic names of the area the report covers. So, Israel, West Bank, and Gaza. This is intended to delineate geographic areas and puts them in alignment with the rest of the report,” Peterson said.
“Those geographic indicators are not meant to convey any position on any final status issues that need to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict, including specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the borders between Israel and any future Palestinian state,” she added.