An entire section that last year was titled “Reproductive Rights” was renamed “Coercion in Population Control,” with much of the text, including most references to the availability of birth control, eliminated.
Another section that had been labeled “Israel and the Occupied Territories” was retitled “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.” The word “occupied” was largely eliminated from the text.
The news media in Israel reported last year that David Friedman, the American ambassador to the country, had asked the State Department to stop using the word “occupation” when referring to the territories, and he has said publicly that settlements in the West Bank are part of Israel.
The United States has referred to the West Bank as “occupied” for decades. Heather Nauert, the department’s spokeswoman, said in January that the Trump administration had not changed its policy regarding the term “occupied territories.” But in her remarks at the time, she carefully avoided using the word “occupied,” and on Friday, she and other officials declined to answer repeated questions about the word’s almost complete banishment from the report.
As in previous versions, the report identifies problems in 194 nations while excluding the United States, an omission that has long prompted foreign countries to cry hypocrisy.
Asked whether this year’s frequent descriptions of news media suppression might be considered particularly problematic in light of President Trump’s musings to reconsider libel laws and penchant for dismissing critical coverage as “fake news,” officials drew a strong line between insulting journalists and killing or jailing them.
“I think the report is very clear about the kind of things that we consider to be inappropriate restrictions on freedom of the media,” said Michael G. Kozak, an ambassador and the senior official in the State Department’s bureau of democracy, human rights and labor. He added that journalists in Cuba “also get called names, but if it were limited to that, they’d be pretty happy as compared to the situation they’re in now.”