David Friedman
David FriedmanReuters

Reports that the US ambassador to Israel asked the State Department to stop calling Judea and Samaria “occupied” are misleading, a department official said.

Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported on Tuesday that David Friedman asked the US State Department to stop calling Israel’s control over Judea and Samaria an “occupation” in official documents. He reportedly recommended using the term “West Bank territory” instead of the “occupied territories.”

The State Department rejected the request, according to Kan, but agreed to take up the subject again in the future.

‎”This is a misleading, twisted report,” a State Department official told JTA in an email. The official did not say what about the report was misleading.

“The president is committed to facilitating a comprehensive peace agreement that will benefit both the Israelis and Palestinians and we remain hard at work on those efforts,” the official said.

In a September interview with Walla, Friedman said, “I think the 'settlements' are part of Israel.”

Friedman also said that the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have an “important nationalistic, historical, religious significance” and added, “I think the 'settlers' view themselves as Israelis and Israel views the 'settlers' as Israelis.”

The State Department later distanced itself from the remarks, claiming that the ambassador's comments should “not be read as a shift in US policy.”

The correct legal term for Judea and Samaria is "disputed territories," not "occupied territories," as there was no recognized regime there when Israel entered the area.