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Biden admin adds ‘Gaza, West Bank’ to US Israeli ambassador’s Twitter, then changes it back

US-Israel (https://www.flickr.com/people/[email protected])
January 20, 2021

The incoming Biden administration briefly changed the Twitter account for the U.S. Ambassador to Israel on Wednesday, momentarily listing the account as one for the “US Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”

New York Magazine reporter Yashar Ali captured the momentary account change in a screenshot.

Ali tweeted, “Changes already happening. A follower noticed that the US Ambassador to Israel’s Twitter account now says “US Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza” Noting that the US under Biden does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza.”

Within half an hour of Ali’s first tweet, the account was changed back to reflect the previous account name, “US Ambassador to Israel.”

Ali later tweeted, “They’ve now changed it back to just Israel.”

The momentary change was also noticed by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which reached out to incoming State Department officials under President Joe Biden. An embassy spokeswoman said, “This is not a policy change or indication of future policy change.”

The spokeswoman added, “It was an inadvertent edit, and not reflective of a policy change.”

A separate Twitter account does exist for the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU), which is part of the U.S. Embassy Jerusalem. The PAU handles U.S. policy goals and outreach with Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Despite the handoff of Twitter accounts between administrations, the last tweet by outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is still up on the Twitter account.

Friedman tweeted, “Signing off now, moving to @DavidM_Friedman. Thank you President Trump for the honor of a lifetime. Thank you @Mike_Pence, @MikePompeo, @SteveMnuchin1, Jared Kushner, @AviBerkow45, @Robertcobrien and @LightstoneA. And eternal thanks to my beloved [wife] Tammy.”

Biden has yet to nominate an ambassador to replace Friedman. According to Haaretz, Friedman was favored by Israeli settlers, who have built settlements along the West Bank, on land disputed by Israel and Palestinians.

Anthony Blinken, Biden’s pick to serve as secretary of state, said during a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he agreed with efforts during the Trump administration to normalize relations between Israel and neighboring Arab countries.

“I hope that the progress that was made with the Abraham Accords, which I applaud – the steps that countries are taking to normalize relations with Israel is an extremely positive development and one that we would hope to build on, if given the opportunity,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday,