JERUSALEM, Israel – The official Twitter account of the US ambassador to Israel briefly changed its name to include the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, sparking immediate uproar and speculation about the United States’ Middle East policy under the Biden administration.
The embassy changed its Twitter handle from “US Ambassador to Israel” to “US Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza” on the day President Joe Biden was sworn into office and David Friedman, former ambassador to Israel under the Trump administration, stepped down.
The account’s name was quickly switched back to say, “US Ambassador to Israel.”
BREAKING: Biden Admin Changes U.S. Ambassador to Israel into "U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza" -- Day 1 policy shift signals new admin does not consider any parts of these areas as Israeli territory https://t.co/m3O6j2nO68 pic.twitter.com/lcfLqCtZuX
— Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) January 20, 2021
The Free Beacon cited embassy officials who speculated that the Twitter account’s name had been inadvertently changed due to a technical glitch, but the paper could not confirm the veracity of those claims.
Critics of Biden, including Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida quickly claimed the incident was a demonstration of “the Democrats’ hostility to Israel.”
“There is no country of West Bank or Gaza, only territories that Israel has been willing for decades to negotiate sovereignty over but has been met with only hostility and terrorism.”
The Biden Admin title change for the @USAmbIsrael shows the Democrats' hostility to Israel. There is no country of West Bank or Gaza, only territories that Israel has been willing for decades to negotiate sovereignty over but has been met with only hostility and terrorism. https://t.co/8TIjQQrxJO
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) January 20, 2021
However, an embassy spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post that the change “was an inadvertent edit.”
“This is not a policy change or indication of future policy change,” the spokesperson said.
The embassy’s website is also still called “US Embassy in Israel” and does not include the Palestinian territories of the West Bank or Gaza.
Former Ambassador Friedman told CBN News, “I tend to think it was just a mistake.” Friedman said he didn’t know “if there was an intention behind the mistake” but clarified “there is no such thing as an ambassador to the West Bank or Gaza” because those territories are not countries.
Biden has said he intends to revive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians and supports the two-state solution.
Tony Blinken, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, said on Tuesday that the Biden administration considers the relationship between Israel and the United States as “sacrosanct.”
Blinken also said the Biden administration is “resolutely opposed” to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
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