Middle East

Official twitter account changed to ‘US Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza’ – Middle East Monitor

The official Twitter account of the US Ambassador to Israel had a brief name change yesterday to “US Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza” after the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The account was quickly changed back to “US Ambassador to Israel”.

Asked whether this brief change suggested that a shift in American foreign policy can be expected under Biden, an embassy spokeswoman said: “This is not a policy change or indication of future policy change. It was an inadvertent edit, and not reflective of a policy change.”

In his first day in office, Biden reversed a number of Trump era policies, including the controversial “Muslim travel ban”. However, indications are that he will not overturn the most controversial changes made by his predecessor, such as the relocation of the US Embassy to occupied Jerusalem.

Biden may be more even-handed than Trump, however. There is talk that the new president will reopen the US Consulate-General in occupied East Jerusalem to act as an “embassy” to the Palestinians, to whom he will also restore US aid.

Read: The Israelisation of US foreign policy is hard to reverse

Relations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Biden are predicted to be tense given their history. Biden was humiliated during a trip to Jerusalem in 2010 when he was Vice President under Barack Obama.

As a pro-Israel stalwart, Biden arrived in Jerusalem with instructions from Obama to revive peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. Netanyahu had reluctantly agreed to a temporary moratorium on Jewish settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. However, as Biden pledged unyielding US support for Israel, Netanyahu unveiled a big expansion of settler housing on Palestinian land in occupied Arab East Jerusalem annexed by Israel.

In what could be a message to the now President Biden, the Israeli government approved the building of 2,572 new settlement units in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank during his inauguration yesterday.

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