TEL AVIV — Palestinian officials have slammed the U.S. over the removal of “Palestinian Territories” from the State Department’s list of countries and areas on its website.
“Palestinian Authority” had appeared on the site until recently, and before that “Palestinian Territories.” It is not clear when the deletion took place. The State Department has denied changing its policy, saying only that the website is being updated.
Just noticed this: @StateDept has removed Palestinians completely from the Middle East. It used to be Palestinian territories or the Palestinian Authority. Now, Palestinians don't exist https://t.co/zCGNfuaizy pic.twitter.com/n59IMwTwHZ
— Aaron Magid (@AaronMagid) August 23, 2019
Former president Barak Obama’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, tweeted: “That’s crazy. Palestinians are not going anywhere. US interests require engaging with them. Israel itself still cooperates with the Palestinian Authority in various ways.”
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, said the removal “comes in the context of desperate attempts to wipe out the Palestinian cause and people.”
He added that the move was “consistent with the ideas of the Israeli extreme Right and an unprecedented descent in American foreign policy” and proves that “the US administration is biased in favor of the Israeli occupation.”
Referring to President Donald Trump’s as-yet unveiled peace plan, Rudeineh said the move “reflects the content of the so-called American Deal of the Century.”
The Trump administration “should know that there will be no peace, security and stability in the region without the establishment of a Palestinian state along June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Rudeineh said.
The deletion would do nothing but “emphasize [the U.S.’s] isolation in wake of international recognition of the Palestinian state,” the spokesman added.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat also slammed the U.S. move.
“Cancelling Palestine (PA, territory ), from the State’s Dept list from the Middle East list, is not about US national interests. This is about advancing the agenda of the council of Israeli Settlers. Deciding not to see the truth , does not mean canceling it’s existence,” he tweeted.
Cancelling Palestine (PA, territory ), from the State’s Dept list from the Middle East list ,is not about US national interests .
This is about advancing the agenda of the council of Israeli Settlers. Deciding not to see the truth , does not mean canceling it’s existence .
— Dr. Saeb Erakat الدكتور صائب عريقات (@ErakatSaeb) August 25, 2019
The PA’s Foreign Ministry in Ramallah blasted the U.S. administration for “implementing the Israeli vision of destroying the two-state solution and whitewashing the occupation.”
The ministry added that the move again highlights the U.S. administration’s “total bias in favor of the occupation and how it has lost its credibility.”
In March, the State Department for the first time referred to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” in an annual report, and also dropped the word “occupied” for the Palestinian territories.
Later that month, Trump announced a formal recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.