Israeli Official: Negotiating for Twitter Name Like "Exchanging Hostages" - NBC New York

Israeli Official: Negotiating for Twitter Name Like "Exchanging Hostages"

Israel did not pay six figures to porn site owner for Twitter account, consul general says



    It turns out the Promised Land isn't that desperate for a Twitter account after all.

    Israel's Consul General Ofer Bavly clarified Wednesday how negotiations went with the owner of a Miami porn website, Israel Melendez, who happened to also own the rights to the Twitter handle @israel.

    The two men met at the Israeli Consulate in downtown Miami last week to hash out a deal that would give the Jewish country control over the Twitter account in exchange for a fee.

    They sat in the same area where kings and other political leaders usually meet to talk about world peace or diplomatic solutions.

    "It's almost like exchanging hostages," Bavly joked about the negotiation session.

    Melendez had held the @israel Twitter handle for about three years, but rarely used it. He never dreamed of making cash off of it, but then the Israeli consulate came a knocking.

    Some reports had the country paying as much as six figures to wrestle the handle away from the other Israel, but those reports aren't accurate, Bavly confirmed without giving a specific dollar amount.

    "I'm sure if he took his friends to a nice restaurant and bought a few expensive bottles of wine, the check would run out," Bavly said.

    Whatever the case, Melendez and Israeli officials agreed the exchange was mutually beneficial. Turns out every time Melendez tweeted, he would receive a ton of anti-Israeli e-mails and responses.

    Who wouldn't give that up for a few bottles of wine?

    "He doesn't need that flack," Bavly said. "He's better off with the check and we're better off having ownership of our state's name."