US mission to Palestinians renamed on Twitter, signaling possible upgrade

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The Twitter account for the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem carried a new name on Thursday, signaling a possible upgrade in ties ahead of a planned visit by President Joe Biden to the region.

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The former “Palestinian Affairs Unit” (PAU) within the US Embassy was redesignated as the “US Office of Palestinian Affairs in Jerusalem” at the Twitter handle @USPalAffairs.

US spokespeople did not immediately comment on the change, which came as Palestinian officials said they expected to host senior State Department envoy Hady Amr on Thursday in Ramallah, their seat of government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Prior to becoming the Palestinian Affairs Unit, the mission had been the US consulate in Jerusalem.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, delighted Israelis and outraged Palestinians by formally closing the consulate and redesignating it as the PAU within the US Embassy that was moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in 2018.

Under their new designation, the former consulate’s staff and functions remained largely identical, but they were subordinate to the embassy rather than on a strict US-Palestinian bilateral track.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and saw the embassy move as undermining that aspiration. Israel, which captured East Jerusalem in 1967, calls Jerusalem its indivisible capital.

The Biden administration has pledged to reopen the consulate, but Israel has said it would not consent to this and proposed that a consulate be opened in Ramallah instead.

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