Google Ignites Controversy By Using “Palestine” On Homepage

Google "Palestine" Google has been at the center of heated geo-political controversy before, usually around disputed place names or borders on maps. A new controversy, however, has arisen about one of Google’s international homepages:

That’s the page previously dedicated to the “Palestinian Territories.” On May 1 Google dropped “territories” and now calls it “Google Palestine.”

This move follows UN recognition of the Palestinians last November as a “non-member state.” The name change was condemned by Israeli authorities immediately after it happened. According to the Jerusalem Post Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page and said the following:

“By [using 'Palestine'] Google is in essence recognizing the existence of a Palestinian state,” Elkin wrote in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page. 

“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,” Elkin wrote.

Google gave Reuters the following statement: “We are following the lead of the U.N. … and other international organizations.” A spokesman told the BBC last week:

“We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products. 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.”

Because this is such a hot-button issue it does amount to a self-conscious “political statement” by Google and not simply a causal naming decision that follows the lead of other organizations. Google is lending its voice, rightly or wrongly, to the debate about Palestinian statehood.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Critics | Google: Legal | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Outside US


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  • Ant Alloy

    May I respectfully draw attention to the following please. Please accept my apologies if it is long.

    * The UN view of the Palestinian Territories can be seen at the following URL:….

    * The West Bank and East Jerusalem is occupied Palestine (bilaterally recognised by 132 nations in the world including India, China, Russia, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Iceland).

    * Palestine is officially a non-member State and recognised by the UN. 138 nations supported Palestine last November in its successful bid for statehood. France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Greece, Cyprus and Malta were among many European nations to support Palestine. Their vote for Palestine was important as were those cast by India, China, Russia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand who supported Palestine too. The Secretary General of the UN and Vatican Church welcomed the re-birth of Palestine.

    * However, Palestine (West Bank and East Jerusalem) is still illegally held and sadly Israel’s Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu has ignored the ruling of the International Court of Justice (subsequently supported by the UN and EU) with respect to the “separation barrier”. This “wall” is 3 times the length of the Berlin Wall.

    * UNESCO’s recognition of Palestine in 2011 was supported by France, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Norway, Greece and other European nations.

    * Please also see UNSC Resolution 478 concerning Jerusalem. The 4th Geneva Convention is applicable to all the Palestinian Territories.

    * International law and UN Resolutions (over which there are over 150) are ignored by Israel’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

    * UN Resolutions specify Israel’s illegal hold of the Palestinian Territories to be a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention and as such is a War Crime under international law. More so now, that settlements are being placed in another nation.

    Yours sincerely


    *** UN Security Council
    Resolution 478 (1980) of 20 August

    1980 – BINDING

    The Security Council, recalling its resolution 476 (1980);
    reaffirming again that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible;
    deeply concerned over the enactment of a “basic law” in the Israeli
    Knesset proclaiming a change in the character and status of the Holy City of
    Jerusalem, with its implications for peace and security; noting that Israel has
    not complied with resolution 476 (1980); reaffirming its determination to
    examine practical ways and means, in accordance with the relevant provisions of
    the Charter of the United Nations, to secure the full implementation of its
    resolution 476 (1980), in the event of non-compliance by Israel ; Censures in
    the strongest terms the enactment by Israel of the “basic law” on
    Jerusalem and the refusal to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions;….

    *** Resolution 694 (1991) -

    Adopted by the Security Council at its 2989th meeting on 24

    May 1991

    The Security Council,

    Reaffirming its resolution 681 (1990),
    Having learned with deep concern and consternation that
    Israel has, in violation of its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention
    of 1949, and acting in opposition to relevant Security Council resolutions, and
    to the detriment of efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace
    in the Middle East, deported four Palestinian civilians on 18 May 1991,

    1. Declares that the action of the Israeli authorities of
    deporting four Palestinians on 18 May is in violation of the Fourth Geneva
    Convention of 1949, which is applicable to all the Palestinian territories
    occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem;

    2. Deplores this action and reiterates that Israel, the
    occupying Power, refrain from deporting any Palestinian civilian from the
    occupied territories and ensure the save and immediate return of all those

    3. Decides to keep the situation under review.

    *** Resolution 672 (1990) -

    Adopted by the Security Council at its 2948th meeting on 12
    October 1990

    The Security Council,

    Recalling its resolutions 476 (1980) and 478 (1980),

    Reaffirming that a just and lasting solution to the
    Arab-Israeli conflict must be based on its resolutions 242 (1967) and 338
    (1973) through an active negotiating process which takes into account the right
    to security for all States in the region, including Israel, as well as the
    legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people,
    Taking into consideration the statement of the

    Secretary-General relative to the purpose of the mission he is sending to the
    region and conveyed to the Council by the President on 12 October 1990,

    1. Expresses alarm at the violence which took place on 8
    October at the Al Haram al Shareef and other Holy Places of Jerusalem resulting
    in over twenty Palestinian deaths and to the in-jury of more than one hundred
    and fifty people, including Palestinian civilians and innocent worshippers;

    2. Condemns especially the acts of violence committed by the
    Israeli security forces resulting in injuries and loss of human life;

    3. Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide
    scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth
    Geneva Convention, which is applicable to all the territories occupied by
    Israel since 1967;

    4. Requests, in connection with the decision of the

    Secretary-General to send a mission to the region, which the Council welcomes,
    that he submit a report to it before the end of October 1990 containing his
    findings and conclusions and that he use as appropriate all the resources of
    the United Nations in the region in carrying out the mission.

    24th April 2012 – UK Foreign
    Secretary William Hague said:

    “I strongly condemn the Israeli government’s decision
    yesterday to turn three illegal outposts in the West Bank into settlements. I
    urged the Israeli government in my statement on 5 April to remove – not
    legalise – outposts across the West Bank”.

    Furthermore, I would like to refer you to specific serious concerns raised by the International Court of Justice (2004) – with relevance to the ‘security barrier’ – which was viewed with alarm by the international community. Incidentally the reference to the illegality of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was also reinforced when the International Court of Justice also found the following (indeed the EU supported the UN vote pertaining to the ‘security barrier’):

    * That the separation barrier is intended to assist the settlements, the establishment of which violates Article 49 of the Convention. Also, the court pointed out that the restrictions placed on the local population located between the barrier and the Green Line are liable to lead to abandonment of the land, which also constitutes a violation of Article 49. In addition, the opinion stated that taking control of private land to build the barrier injured private property owners, and thus violated Articles 46 and 52 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 and of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    Some other key UN Security Council Resolutions on Palestine

    (21 May 1968)

    Urgently calls upon Government of Israel
    to rescind measures that change the legal status of Jerusalem, including the
    expropriation of land and properties thereon.

    (31 December 1968)

    Calls upon Government of Israel to pay
    compensation to Lebanon for the destruction of airliners at Beirut International

    (3 July 1969)

    Expects Israel rescind measures seeking
    to change the legal status of occupied East Jerusalem.

    (15 September 1969)

    Expects the demand that Government of
    Israel rescind measures seeking to change the legal status of occupied East

    (25 September 1971)

    Expects the demand that Government of
    Israel rescind measures seeking to change the legal status of occupied East

    (22 March 1979)

    Calls on Israel to cease, on an urgent
    basis, the establishment, construction, and planning of settlements in the
    Palestinian Territories, occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.

    (20 July 1979)

    Expects Israel cease, on an urgent
    basis, the establishment, construction, and planning of settlements in the
    Palestinian Territories, occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.

    (1 March 1980)

    Expects Israel cease, the establishment,
    construction, and planning of illegal settlements in the Palestinian
    Territories, occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.

    (5 June 1980)

    Demands prosecution of those involved in
    the assassination attempt of West Bank leaders and compensation for damages;
    Expects demands to comply by Fourth Geneva Convention.

    (19 December 1980)

    Expects Israeli compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    (4 October 1985)

    Condemns the Government of Israeli with respect to the attack in Tunisia. Call on Israel to pay compensation for human and material losses from its attack and to
    refrain from all such attacks or threats of attacks against other nations.

    (8 December 1986)

    Demands Israel comply with the Fourth Geneva Conventions in all Occupied Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem.

    (22 December 1987)

    Calls upon the Government of Israel, the
    Occupying Power, to comply by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    (5 January 1988)

    Expects Israel to comply with the Fourth
    Geneva Convention as well as cease its practice of deportations from the
    Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    (14 January 1988), 636 (6 July 1989), 641 (30 August 1989)

    Expects that Israel cease the
    deportations of Palestinian people from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    (12 October 1990)

    Expects Israel to comply by the
    provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian

    (24 October 1990)

    Demands that the Israel come into compliance with UN Resolution 672.

    (20 December 1990)

    Expects Israel to comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention with respect to the Occupied Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem.

    (24 May 1991)

    Expects that Israel stop Palestinian
    civilian deportation from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and ensure the
    safe and immediate return of deportees.

    (6 January 1992)

    Expects Israel to comply with the
    provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and to cease its deportation
    practice from Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    (18 December 1992)

    Reaffirms Fourth Geneva Convention to all Palestinian Territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem. Also affirms that deportation of civilians
    constitutes a contravention of its obligations under the Convention.

    (18 March 1994)

    Israel is called upon, as the occupying
    power, to take and implement measures, inter alia, confiscation of arms, with
    the aim of preventing illegal acts of violence by settlers.

    (28 September 1996)

    Calls on the safety and security of Palestinian civilians to be ensured.

    (7 October 2000)

    Calls upon Israel to comply with the
    Fourth Geneva Convention regarding the responsibilities of the occupying power
    in the Palestinian Territories.

    (30 March 2002)

    Calls for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities.

    (4 April 2002)

    Demands that the Government of Israel go through with the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1402.

    (19 April 2002)

    UN inspector call to investigate
    civilian deaths during Israel’s assault on the Palestinian Jenin refugee camp.

    (24 September 2002)

    Calls on Israel to withdraw to positions
    of September 2000 and end its military activities in and around Ramallah,
    including the destruction of security and civilian infrastructure.

  • Gary Throckmorton

    A more accurate description would be, “Palestine- Illegally occupied and terrorized by Israel”

  • Miriam Schwab

    Well, you could also say that Google was lending its voice to the debate by calling it the Palestinian Territories and not calling it Palestine until now. Either way, it’s some kind of point of view in their .ps properties.

  • searchengineman

    Google can do what it wants, pissing off Israeli Hi Tech Developers may not be the best long term strategy.

    I am so glad I live in Canada, where our Prime Minister kicked out the
    Iranian Embassy out of this country & has gone on record speaking
    out against PA’s attempts at unilateral declaration.

    While the United Nations is touted as having some sort of (Moral) authority? What are you smoking.

    The United Nations? With its Mickey Mouse collection of Dictators,
    Jihadists. Who continually make the case/noise that the Jews should
    have the decency to walk themselves into the sea with Arabist assistance, or commit collective
    suicide allowing Hezbollah/Hammas to rain rocket terror. Is Syria still a member of the Human Rights committee? Just

    PS: You missed these early resolutions, not that the U.N even pays attention to what it puts on paper.. (poor trees)

    PPS: Somehow I doubt you’ll find these missing resolutions on Google Palestine either!

    “Resolutions 242 and 338 call for Israel’s withdrawal from territories
    as part of a peace agreement. This provision is understood primarily by
    Israel, the United States and the drafters of the resolution that, as
    part of a peace agreement, Israel’s withdrawal from territories would
    be consistent with its security needs. However, the Palestinians and
    other U.N. member states continue to use these resolutions to claim
    that Israel should withdraw from all West Bank and Gaza territories.”

  • Ahmed R Teleb

    There’s another way to look at decision, not as a statement about Israel or Palestine but about the nature of law. See my editorial at Fair Observer called “Google Palestine or Larry Page’s Sociological Jurisprudence.” Being in a period of rapid transition and “democratic yearning” could explain why Google’s approach (if not decision) is palatable to the 21st century mind.

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