The official Twitter handle of US Embassy to Israel was briefly changed to US Embassy to Israel, West Bank and Gaza shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in as the US President. The change triggered a sense of confusion and mystery, sparking speculations that represented a policy change by Biden on his first day in office.
Shortly after the US Ambassador to Israel's Twitter handle was changed to include West Bank and Gaza around noon, it was reverted to "US Ambassador to Israel." But the change did not go unnoticed, which even required the embassy to issue a statement to clarify doubts and put to rest any rumours.
The title change "was an inadvertent edit," embassy spokesperson was quoted as saying. "This is not a policy change or indication of future policy change," the spokesperson said.
The Twitter name change happened around the same time David Friedman, a political appointee of former president Donald Trump, officially stepped down from the post. During his tenure, Friedman oversaw the shifting of US Consulate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which served to those living in the West Bank and Gaza. Technically, all three territories fell under Friedman's jurisdiction, but never officially referred to himself as the Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
US on Israel vs Palestine tensions
In November 2019, former US President Donald Trump said the US no longer considered Israeli settlements in the West Gaza in violation of international law and recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The West Bank and Gaza strip have been under Israel's occupation since 1967.
With the new administration, Biden has no plans to reverse Trump's landmark decision of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel capital or shifting the US embassy in the holy city, Tony Blinken, US secretary of state, was quoted as saying earlier on Tuesday. Biden, however, has expressed his intentions to restart relations with Palestine, which was severed after Trump's move.
But the brief name change on Twitter sent shockwaves across Palestine. But it is going to be an uphill battle for Biden administration as the Twitter gaffe has hit the wrong nerves with Palestinian authorities.
"Have we been reduced to the West Bank and Gaza? Not even the courtesy of the occupied Palestinian Territories, which is in accordance with int'l law. Shame on us if we expect any more from this administration. Shame on us for letting our national project get to this point," Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy executive director Salem Barahmeh said in a tweet in response to the Twitter gaffe.