U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia omits Trump Israel visit

Rep. Eliot Engel calls out Embassy in Saudi Arabia for posting video that edited out mention of Trump's visit to Israel.

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Elad Benari,

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump
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A senior House Democrat on Monday blasted the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia after it posted online a video that edited out mention of President Donald Trump's upcoming visit to Israel, The Associated Press reports.

Trump announced the trip, which will take him to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Vatican, last week.

But the video that was posted on the embassy's web page and its Arabic-language Twitter account edited out any references to Trump’s Israel visit, even though the original video did mention the Israel visit.

In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, New York Rep. Eliot Engel said the embassy's editing implied that the United States accepted Saudi Arabia's refusal to recognize Israel as a state.

"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 U.S. accepts Saudi Arabia's public rejectionist position toward Israel," Engel wrote, according to AP.

The edited video appeared to have been removed after Engel complained. The original version, which includes a reference to Israel, is now on the embassy's web site, according to the report.

Engel, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the United States has long fought efforts by other Middle East nations to "delegitimize" the Jewish state.

"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," he wrote Tillerson.

The State Department on Monday called the posting of the video an “inadvertent mistake”.

A State Department official told JTA in a statement that the embassy had taken the video from the social media account of a private Saudi citizen without realizing that Israel had been edited out.

“Upon learning this, the U.S. Embassy immediately corrected the error, took down the video, and loaded the correct version to its social media accounts,” the official said. “The Embassy expresses its regret for this inadvertent mistake.”

Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel nor does it have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, but the two countries have expressed similar concerns about Iran.

During the negotiations between Iran and world powers before the nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia and other major Sunni states expressed concern over a deal which would allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons – a position which placed them very close to Israel’s position on the matter.

Ultimately, however, Saudi Arabia's government announced that it welcomed the deal.

There have been reports in recent years of cooperation between Israel and some Arab countries, allegedly over their common concern about the Iranian nuclear threat.

Most of these reports have come out of Iran, which claimed that Israel and Saudi Arabia had teamed up to launch a virus against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.