Internet giant Google has placed the name "Palestine" on its search engine instead of "Palestinian Territories" in recognition of the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral bid at the United Nations, the U.S. company said on Friday, according to AFP.
The domain name www.google.ps now brings up a homepage with "Palestine" written underneath the Google logo.
The change took effect on Wednesday, Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said in a statement quoted by AFP.
"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… and other international organizations," Tyler said.
The UN General Assembly on November 29 upgraded the Palestinian Authority to the status of non-member observer state by a vote of 138 votes in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions.
After the vote, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas ordered all of the PA\’s institutions to stop using the term "Palestinian National Authority" on official documents and replace it with the term \’the State of Palestine\’.
Israel questioned Google\’s decision, with foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor telling AFP, "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.”
Abbas\’s telecommunications adviser Sabri Saydam, meanwhile, said Google\’s move was "a step in the right direction."
"We hope Google maps will also show the fact that Palestinian land has been stolen from Israel\’s colonization," he told AFP.
Abbas recently issued new guidelines ordering the PA government to re-issue passports, identity cards, registration documents, vehicle licenses, driver\’s licenses, stamps and postmarks.
Abbas\’s new guidelines dictate that a new emblem which reads "the State of Palestine" be placed on all re-issued documents.
His associates later seemed to back down from the "State of Palestine" passport idea, saying the PA would hold off on issuing the passports in order to avoid conflict with Israel.