Rep. Engel chides State Department for tweet that omitted reference to Israel

New York Rep. Eliot Engel on Monday called on the State Department to replace a tweet from the American embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that omitted a reference to Israel.

The Arabic-language Twitter handle, @USAinKSA, posted a clip of President Donald Trump’s announcement of foreign travel to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican. The video, however, excludes the reference to Israel.

“I am appalled that the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia disingenuously posted this incomplete and misleading video. At a time when the United States should be encouraging the governments of the region—and their people—to promote tolerance, respect, and mutual recognition this video implies that the US accepts Saudi Arabia’s public rejectionist position toward Israel,” Engel (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter Monday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“This video plays into a rejectionist narrative and thus has no place in any social media—or any other form of communication—associated with the United States government,” continued Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I urge you to immediately instruct the embassy to replace the video with the unedited version that includes the announcement of the President’s planned visit to Israel.”

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no diplomatic relations, with Riyadh refusing to recognize Israel as a state. But Engel suggested replacing the video to include the reference to Israel “will help restore the U.S. commitment toward peace and the acceptance of the Jewish State throughout the region and the world.”

“We must continue to be true to our values and interests,” Engel said.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump announced from the White House Rose Garden on Thursday that he would be taking his first foreign travel later this month to the aforementioned destinations.

“My first foreign trip as president of the United States will be to Saudi Arabia, then Israel and then to a place that my cardinals love very much: Rome,” he said.

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