By Mitchell Dunk
Edited for online by Matilda Butler
In a move which has triggered interesting reactions from both sides of the Arab/Israeli conflict, Google announced last week the renaming of its Palestinian site to recognise the territory as separate from Israel.
The site which once featured the tag-line ‘Google Palestinian Territories’, now simply reads ‘Google Palestine’.
Australia Palestinian Advocacy Network executive officer Jessica Morrison says it is a step towards official recognition.
“The Palestinian community and all those who have been advocating for Palestine are really excited about Google’s decision,” says Ms Morrison.
“It’s very much in line with the shifting tide to recognise Palestine.”
Ms Morrision says the decision is logical with growing international support for Palestinian independence.
“I think this is the logical step for Google to take, given the international stance has already shifted towards increased recognition.”
The official reaction from Israel has been negative.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor questioned Google’s involvement, suggesting private companies have no place in international politics.
“Ausraelim” editor and Israeli citizen Ran Porat says the whole issue has been blown out of proportion.
“Israelis that live in Australia were not touched by the issue,” says Mr Porat.
“It’s not really an issue, they’re not really upset about it or even aware of it.”
Mr Porat says the majority of Israelis already accept Palestine as an separate entity.
“Now there’s no one who is actually challenging the idea that Palestine is a separate entity. Not even Israelis,” said Mr Porat.
The development follows Palestine’s acceptance by the UN as non member observer state last year.
When contacted Google Australia declined to comment.
In their statement, Google says it is following the lead of the UN and other international organizations.
Ms Morrison says Google is simply following international law.
“Google have really indicated that they’re just trying to follow what’s being recognised internationally,” says Ms Morrison.
“Google aren’t looking at following a popular shift, they’re looking at following international law.”
Mr Porat says Google’s motives are less clear.
“Google is very connected – their managers, their founders, are very connected to Israel,” said Mr Porat.