TEXAS, May 7, 2013—On May 1st, Google changed the tagline on the homepage of its Palestinian edition from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine”. However, whether or not the search giant intended the change to be a political statement is unclear. According to Google spokesperson Nathan Tyler, Google consults a number of sources and authorities when naming countries.
“We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products,” Tyler said. ” “We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries. In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, ICANN, ISO and other international organizations.”
The Palestinian Authority, which has long lobbied for Palestinian statehood, welcomed Google’s decision. Dr. Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the BBC, “This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories,”
The global news service JTA, which is headquartered in New York, reports that Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin told Google CEO Larry Page in a letter sent Sunday that he was in essence recognizing a Palestinian state that does not exist.
“I would be grateful were you to reconsider the decision since it entrenches the Palestinians in their view that they can further their political aims through one-sided actions rather than through negotiations and mutual agreement,” Elkin wrote. “By doing so, Google is in essence recognizing the existence of a Palestinian state.”
Elkin also wrote, “Such a decision is, in my opinion, not only mistaken but could also negatively impinge on the efforts of my government to bring about direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
Google is certainly not alone in its recognition of Palestine. On November 29, 2012, in what was widely considered a diplomatic setback for Israel and the United States, the United Nations granted “Palestine” the status of “non-member observer state”; which in effect, recognized Palestine as a sovereign state. And UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon, in December of the same year, further strengthened the UN’s position when he decided that ‘the designation of “State of Palestine” shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents’.
What do you think? Is Google making a political statement in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state, or is it just standardizing its naming conventions? Leave your comment below.Google+
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