JERUSALEM, Israel – The US State Department's annual human rights report for 2017, released this past Friday, dropped the terms "occupied" and "occupation" in reference to Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.
Media reports attribute the change to a request by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to the State Department.
The State Department reportedly rejected the request initially, but after what some reports perceived as pressure from the White House, it agreed.
President Trump nominated Friedman, an attorney and founding partner of a top law firm in Manhattan, on January 20, 2017, and he was sworn in as the United States' 20th ambassador to Israel on March 29, 2017.
Friedman and his wife, Tammy, have 5 children and 7 grandchildren. Their daughter, Talia, a nurse, made aliyah in August 2017.
US Ambassador David Friedman and his wife, Tammy, welcome their daughter, Talia, on her aliyah flight.
Years before becoming US ambassador to Israel, Friedman actively supported Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, enjoying an especially close relationship with the Samarian town of Beit El.
Before his appointment as ambassador, Friedman, who speaks and reads Hebrew, visited Israel frequently for many years.
During a speech in Ramallah in March, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Friedman "a son of a dog" for saying that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are part of Israel, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported.
"Son of a dog. They [the Jews] are building on their land? You are a settler and your family are settlers," Ha'aretz quoted Abbas as saying.
According to the report, Friedman responded to the PA leader's remarks several days later at the Global Forum for Combating anti-Semitism in Jerusalem.
"Three young Israelis were murdered over the weekend ... in cold blood by Palestinian terrorist and a reaction from the Palestinian Authority was deafening – no condemnation," he told participants. "I saw his response on my iPhone. His response was to refer to me as 'son of a dog.' Is that anti-Semitism or political discourse? I leave that up to you."