The State Department’s newest Human Rights Report describes the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” instead of “Israeli-occupied,” a linguistic change that comes as conservative U.S. lawmakers are pushing to have the Golan Heights recognized as part of Israel.
Michael Kozak, a top U.S. diplomat who briefed reporters Wednesday on the human rights report, said the new language did not reflect a change in U.S. policy toward the region. Rather, he said, it was about keeping the annual report more neutral.
“Occupied territory has a legal meaning to it,” he said, adding that the department is trying to stick with “just a geographic description.” He added the report avoided the word “occupied” because it is “not a human rights term and it was distracting.“
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