The Twitter account for the US diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem received a new name, indicating a probable boost in ties ahead of President Joe Biden’s planned visit to the region.
At the Twitter handle @USPalAffairs, the old “Palestinian Affairs Unit” (PAU) within the US Embassy was renamed the “U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs in Jerusalem.”
U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S.-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.