US spox refuses to describe Palestinians in West Bank as living under occupation
The US State Department has refused to describe the Palestinian people in the West Bank as living under "occupation" in a heated exchange between a spokesperson and reporter.
When asked on January 26 "what is the status of the Palestinian people in the West Bank including Jenin," Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel avoided using the word occupied, and instead said: "It is vital for both sides to take action to prevent even greater loss, and we condemn any violence, escalation, or provocation."
This exchange took place on the same day Israeli troops killed 10 Palestinians in one of the deadliest days in the occupied West Bank. In the Jenin raid, at least 20 others were wounded with live ammunition.
After successive questioning by Said Arikat of Al-Quds newspaper about the status and safety of Palestinians, Patel resorted to the same line repeatedly: "We believe that there is an urgent need for all parties to de-escalate and to work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank."
WATCH 📽️ | Biden administration @StateDeptSpox Vedant Patel refuses to say Palestinians are ‘occupied’ in wake of Israeli military raid that killed 10 Palestinians in Jenin (Thurs 26th Jan). pic.twitter.com/azZwChmFIn— Palestine Deep Dive (@PDeepdive) January 30, 2023
The following day, January 27, seven Israelis were killed and 10 were injured in a synagogue shooting attack by a Palestinian gunman on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
The attack was immediately condemned by the US government, which reiterated its "iron-clad" commitment to Israeli security.
When asked about who "guarantees" the safety and equality of Palestinians by Mr Arikat, Spokesperson Patel said: "We have been very clear and we believe that there is an urgent need for all parties to de-escalate and to work together to improve the security situation in the West Bank."
Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967. Israeli settlements in the territory are illegal under international law.
2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians living in the occupied territories since the Second Intifada.
At least 2022 people died in Israeli attacks, including 48 children. Of the total death toll, 167 were from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and 53 were from the Gaza Strip.