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Google Going Political? Search Engine Adopts The Term Palestine

By Nina Sen , May 03, 2013 07:02 PM EDT

Google has chosen to recognize Palestine, as the Internet giant confirms it changed its home page tagline in the occupied territories from "Palestinian territories" to "Palestine."

"We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries. In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, Icann [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organizations," a Google spokesman, Nathan Tyler, told the BBC.

The domain name at now has a homepage with the word Palestine under the logo.

This simple change is loaded with political significance.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip regions have been fighting for statehood from Israel for decades and peace talks have stalled. Last November, Palestine received the status of "non-member observer state" at the United Nations because it did not receive enough support from other countries for statehood. Israel considers the use of the term Palestine as incorrect. In much of the terminology used by the Israeli government, the West Bank is referred to as Judea or Samaria.

Dr. Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said he wrote to Google and several other large international companies to replace their usage of "Palestinian Territories" with "Palestine."

"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," Saidam told BBC.

Israel, however, questioned Google's move, saying that it raised questions about the multinational company's involvement in international politics.

"This change raises questions about the reasons behind this surprising involvement of what is basically a private internet company in international politics, and on the controversial side," Yigal Palmor, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, told Agence-France Presse news agency.

The U.S., where Google is based, opposed recognizing Palestine at the November U.N. talks.

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