Ileana and the O word


U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) doesn’t like the word "occupied" when it comes to the West Bank and wants the State Department to stop using it.

From her office:

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on Israel’s exceptional record on human rights and on the Israel section of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released yesterday by the U.S. Department of State. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“For more than six decades, Israel has stood as a model for human rights and democracy in a region marred by hatred and extremism. Israel is committed to the fundamental values shared by all responsible democratic nations.  It has a system of laws designed to protect human dignity and universal freedoms and liberties.

“I am deeply disappointed that the State Department again lumped into the same report, the defensive actions of the democratic, Jewish state of Israel with the violent activities of Islamist extremist groups.

“The report did not give adequate attention and prominence to the state of siege that Hamas and other Islamist militants have imposed on civilians in southern Israel, whom they have targeted for years with thousands of rocket and mortar attacks. 

“Finally, the use of the term ‘occupied territories’ for the West Bank, Gaza and areas of Jerusalem is prejudicial and does not further efforts to secure a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“It is time for this problem to be addressed once and for all.  This reporting practice could have potentially grave implications for U.S. efforts to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel incitement worldwide, particularly at international organizations and conferences."

It’s standard State Department use, and I don’t recall Ros-Lehtinen objecting when her party ran that department.

More to the point, she might have raised the issue with Ariel Sharon when he was prime minister:

"You cannot like the word, but what is happening is an occupation — to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation. I believe that is a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians."

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