The incoming administration of US President Joe Biden quickly came under fire on Wednesday after he was sworn in as the next commander-in-chief when it was revealed that the Twitter page for the US ambassador to Israel was modified during the transition.
The account was temporarily changed from the name “US Ambassador to Israel” to “US Ambassador to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.” The change was noted in both the account’s name and in the Twitter bio.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) January 20, 2021
At the time, the switch-up unfolded as former ambassador David Friedman vacated the post, and instantly drew condemnation from spectators, including some US politicians. Among the critics were Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who deemed the move as being controversial for the incoming administration.
Scott specifically remarked via social media that the change “shows the Democrats’ hostility to Israel,” and that “Israel has been willing for decades to negotiate sovereignty over [the West Bank and Gaza] but has been met with only hostility and terrorism.”
The Times of Israel reported the mix-up only lasted “less than two hours.”
Although it’s unclear what prompted the change, a spokesperson for the US embassy told NPR’s Daniel Estrin the name change was “not a policy change or indication of future policy change.” The embassy later explained “it was an inadvertent edit."
The alteration also came after Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee to fill the role of secretary of state, remarked during a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he and the new president believe a two-state solution is “the best way and maybe the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state and to give the Palestinians the state to which they are entitled.”
At the time, the official also indicated that he was in favor of leaving the US embassy in Jerusalem.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital prompted widespread outrage in 2017, marking an abrupt change from decades’ worth of US foreign policy.