Palestinian president slams USA dropping 'occupied' in report

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"Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza detained on security grounds fell under military jurisdiction as applied by Israel to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, even if detained inside Israel".

Diverging from a decades-long policy of characterizing the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria as "occupied" by Israel, the United States Department of State began referring to the territories as under Israeli "control" in its annual human rights report, released on Wednesday.

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 recognised by the worldwide community.

"This section includes Israel, including Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights", the preface to the report's Israel chapter reads.

With regard to whether a policy shift had occurred within the State Department, an official commented, "The policy on the status of the territories has not changed", adding that the the report focuses on human rights matters, not terms related to global law.

The Hezbollah cell is "just the tip of the iceberg", Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, said on Wednesday.

"Our policy on Golan has not changed", a spokesperson for the US embassy in Jerusalem said in a statement.

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"Israel will continue to do all that's necessary to defend itself", he warned, referring to both "overt and covert means to block Iran's effort to use Syria, Lebanon and Gaza as forward bases for attacking Israel".

The report appears to reflect the sentiments of a meeting between Senator Lindsey Graham, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, where the three discussed plans to work towards US recognition of the Golan Heights as a part of Israel.

Israel says he arrived in Syria in 2018 with orders to form the Golan File unit, which would Hizbollah to fight Israel from southern Syria as well as southern Lebanon.

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

"We hold the Syrian regime responsible for anything that happens inside Syria aimed at Israel". He moved the U.S. Embassy to the contested holy city from Tel Aviv a year ago.

"I have a clear message for Iran and for Hezbollah", Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

"I personally can not imagine a situation in which the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria".

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