I saw an interesting question over at the film & TV site:

Why do [the fictional American politicians in the US version of House of Cards] refer to Palestine as a country?

In the "Jordan Valley" episodes of House of Cards, the characters routinely refer to "Palestine" as if it were an actual country. I have never seen real American politicians do that. Is the in-show universe different than our own, one in which Palestine became a recognized country?

... [in comments] Real American politicians may say "Palestinian" but rarely "Palestine", except when they are explicitly talking about the possibility of a future state

... U.S. politicians never refer to [the Palestinian territories as they are today] as "Palestine". This would be cause strenuous objections by Israel if it were to occur.

This got me wondering - how do US politicians refer to Palestine, if not as "Palestine"? Obviously the US is one of the countries that doesn't formally recognise Palestine as a state, but the Palestinian territories are a de-facto state (largely self-governing, etc), and an important and oft-discussed one for US foreign policy.

How are the lands governed by the Palestinian National Authority referred to by American politicians? Is there a standard or protocol? Does it vary between parties or factions?

I'm mostly interested in on-the-record speech, but if there's evidence or examples of politicians using different language in formal speeches as to informal or off-the-record conversation, that'd be a very interesting detail.

As a side note, I'm also curious about whether the same naming policy is used for Palestine as other non-recognised de-facto states like Somaliland, Transnistria, Western Sahara, etc.

  • 3
    "non-recognised de-facto states"... I would question your characterization of Palestine as a de-facto state since it lacks almost all markers of sovereignty except partial international recognition
    – JoelFan
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 15:19
  • 5
    People can (and do...) debate such things all day long... let's not get into that here. I simply mean the territories that are governed or co-governed by the Palestinian National Authority. Call it a state, de-facto state, self-governing territory, "partially recognized state" (wikipedia), "non-member observer state" (UN), cheese sandwich, whatever you like... my question is, what do American politicians call that place? Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 15:27
  • 1
    I basically agree, and not to put too fine a point about it, but I don't think anyone refers to it with the term "de facto state", since it is quite the opposite... if anything it would be a "de jure state"
    – JoelFan
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 16:01
  • Related: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/2714/…
    – Publius
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


First, here's an answer to your second question about how U.S. politicians (in real life) talk about this region:

Typically, members of the U.S. government (and certainly members of the State Department) refer publicly to the land some refer to* as Palestine as "occupied territories" and not "Palestine." This phrasing represents the official U.S. policy on the issue. (Short read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_law_and_Israeli_settlements#United_States) Those who refer to the area publicly as "Palestine" do not represent the official current U.S. stance.

That said, the past three U.S. presidents (Clinton, Bush, and currently President Obama) have all publicly supported the push for a Palestinian statehood, and they each have referred to the current area that one would consider to be Palestine as the "occupied territories." (Short read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine%E2%80%93United_States_relations)

*Trying to be as neutral as possible here with my language!

Now, an answer about the House of Cards universe:

On the show, the Jordan Valley is referred to once as “Israeli-occupied”. I am assuming they use "Palestine" as shorthand for the region, not to indicate that a state of Palestine exists in this universe.

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