US State Department removes 'Palestinian Territories' from website

US State Department removes 'Palestinian Territories' from website
US State Department says that the removal of Palestine does not reflect a policy change, and that the website is merely 'being updated'.
2 min read
28 August, 2019
Palestinians commemmorate Land Day in Amsterdam in March 2019 (Getty)

The US State Department removed Palestine this week from the list of countries on its website, which many believe is another measure to deny Palestinian statehood. 

"Website is being updated. There has been no change to our policy," a State Department official said in a statement.

CNN revealed that it was active on the page till at least February 2019. It is unclear when Palestine was removed from the list.

The Department unveiled its updated website in June this year, where the link for the Palestinian Territories now redirects to a message about changes.

Also read: Barring members of Congress from Israel-Palestine

The omission drew outrage from Palestinians and Palestinian officials. 

Dr. Saeb Erakat decried the removal of Palestine on Twitter, stating that "this is about advancing the agenda of the council of Israeli Settlers".

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Cancelling Palestine (PA, territory ), from the State’s Dept list from the Middle East list ,is not about US national interests .<br>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 .</p>&mdash; Dr. Saeb Erakat الدكتور صائب عريقات (@ErakatSaeb) <a href="">August 25, 2019</a></blockquote>
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The Arab League has called the move a "new hostile action", adding that it “comes within a series of hostile actions by the US administration which aims at liquidating the Palestinian cause.”

This comes amid increasingly frosty relations between the United States and the Palestinian Territories.

President Trump recently pressured Israel to deny two members of Congress, Ilhan Omar and Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib from entering the country.

The Trump administration has repeatedly been heavily criticized for its actions related to Palestine.

It recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving its embassy there in May 2018, breaking decades of consensus within the United States.

It drastically cut funding for Palestinian programmes later the same year.

Washington withdrew $200 million from USAid for developmental projects in Gaza, and pulled the plug on funding for the United National Relief and Works Agency, the UN's main programme for Palestinian refugees.

The move has potentially left around 5 million people without proper access to healthcare, education and social services.

The US has been working on a peace plan for Israel and Palestine for two years, but an advisor to the president recently tweeted that it would not be revealed until after the Israeli elections in September this year.