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Google Follows UN Lead In Recognizing Palestine

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 3 2013

Screengrab from Google Palestine

Palestinian Googlers might have noticed something different about their search engine homepage on Thursday. Google has changed the subheading of the Palestinian edition, Google.ps, from the “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine.” This acknowledgement by the search giant follows the United Nations decision in November 2012 to recognize Palestine as a non-member state, in spite of objections by the US and Israel.

Since its establishment, Google has referred to Palestine as “The Palestinian Territories.” Some have interpreted the change as a small victory for Palestine. An 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.”

Acknowledging the importance of the digital world and the significance of this change, he added, "Most of the traffic that happens now happens in the virtual world and this means putting Palestine on the virtual map as well as on the geographic maps.”

In a statement to the BBC, a Google spokesman did not assert political leanings, merely said that, “We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries . . . In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, Icann [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organisations [sic]."

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.