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Hussein Ibish

U.S. Just Launched a One-Word Attack on Palestinian Rights

Is the West Bank “occupied” by Israel? The State Department has said yes for decades. Suddenly, it says no.

What would you call it?

What would you call it?

Photographer: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Europe

If you issue a report on human rights, the least you can do is avoid damaging, dismissing or denigrating those rights. But that’s exactly what the U.S. State Department just did in the new edition of the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released on April 20. The targets, no one should be surprised to learn, were the Palestinians.

Ever since the first State Department human rights reports were issued in the 1970s, they always included a section on “Israel and the occupied territories.” But the new document suddenly expunges any mention of occupation, referring instead to “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Gaza.”