Biden Changes U.S. Ambassador to Israel Twitter Name to Include West Bank and Gaza

The Biden administration on Wednesday changed the U.S. ambassador to Israel’s Twitter account name to read, “the official Twitter account of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza,” walking back the Trump administration’s pro-Israel policies.

The change in title marks a significant shift in policy toward Israel. The United States has for decades declined to take a policy position on the West Bank and Gaza territories, maintaining the Israelis and the Palestinians must decide in negotiations how the areas will be split up for a future Palestinian state. By including Gaza and the West Bank in the ambassador’s portfolio, the Biden administration appears to be determining that neither area is part of Israel—a move that is certain to rile Israeli leaders. The incoming administration’s move also signals that it will elevate the next ambassador’s role to include conducting direct diplomacy with Palestinian leaders, including in the Gaza Strip, where the Hamas terror group maintains control. This is the only ambassador tasked with conducting diplomacy in a region controlled by a U.S.-designated terror group.

During the Obama administration, former ambassador Dan Shapiro was referred to in official communications as the “U.S. Ambassador to Israel.”

While President Joe Biden has said he would maintain the U.S. embassy facility in Jerusalem—which former President Donald Trump moved in a historic policy shift—it is likely he will put greater emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have long been stalled. Biden also will grapple with the last administration’s decision to recognize the Golan Heights area along the Israel-Syria border as officially part of the Jewish state.

Reacting to the shift, Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Twitter: “It’s incredibly troubling the administration made this controversial move on Day One, [without] consulting w/Congress. It also seems to fly
in the face of comments made by Antony Blinken yesterday. I strongly urge the president to clarify this provocative move quickly.”

The title change also seems to contradict comments by Biden’s secretary of state nominee, Anthony Blinken, who said during his
confirmation hearing yesterday that he would not seek to relocate the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and would continue the tight security
relationship between the United States and Israel.

Jonathan Schanzer, a veteran Middle East expert and vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the move could lead to significant policy changes.

“One can interpret this in two ways: On the one hand, it could a recognition of the fact that the East Jerusalem Consulate is no
longer, thus underscoring that the embassy in Jerusalem is the central clearinghouse for all things related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. On the other hand, it also seems to imply that all three territories are to be treated with equal recognition—and that might mark a significant change in policy,” Schanzer said. “Clarification will be needed on whether America’s diplomatic approach to Israel and the Palestinians is changing on day one of the Biden administration.”

The post Biden Changes U.S. Ambassador to Israel Twitter Name to Include West Bank and Gaza appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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