Israel’s furore at Google’s decision to replace Palestinian Territories with Palestine in its localised search pages led foreign minister Ze’ev Elkin to issue a statement addressed to Google’s CEO, Larry Page, suggesting a review of the decision since it creates obstacles to the peace process and ‘entrenches the Palestinians in their view that they can further their political aims through one sided actions rather than through negotiating and mutual agreement’.
The change was effected on May 1, according to Google after consulting with a number of international authorities. It also reflected the UN status upgrade last year, to which Israel retaliated with further human rights violations and retributions in the form of settlement expansion and withholding of funds.
For Palestinians, the change symbolised a ‘virtual victory’ and a further step in the process of liberation. Recognition of statehood through Google represents a wider sphere of fluctuations in opinion which aid Palestinians in their quest for self-determination as opposed to the passive condition of ephemeral hope. An advisor for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated that the recognition would hinder Israel’s tenacity to cling to the historical names of Judea and Samaria, in reference to the West Bank.
Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman expressed the opinion that Google does not possess any diplomatic status and therefore its actions are perceived as unwarranted involvement in international politics, adding that through its decision to recognise Palestine, the company was aligning itself ‘with the controversial side’.
The so-called ‘controversial side’ has been exploited and violated for decades by the internationally sanctioned illegal occupation. Israel has recently found itself striving to defend its interests owing to a discernible split in the international arena. While leaders continue to bolster the occupation through regional and business interests, the masses have disassociated themselves from political bargaining and embraced a global campaign in support of Palestinians. Google’s elimination of Palestinian territories seems to echo the global trend of relegating Israel to the side-lines by promoting solidarity, consolidating the effectiveness of non-violent protest.
Such achievements also infuriate Israel to the point of inducing puerile rhetoric in opposition. Of course, Google’s decision might prove problematic as it fails to support Israel’s fabrication of memory framework. However, the statements issued by government officials indicate trepidation due to the interpretation of the gesture. Israel is already projecting its analysis onto what Palestinians might think, creating an unrestrained image of conspiracy mired within the ramifications of diplomacy – namely pursuing the liberation of land and people whilst relegating consultation to the bottom rung.
If Palestinians do not want to embark on further discussions, Israel and its allies should realise that such a decision is borne out of the tribulations associated with ‘negotiations’ which have strengthened Israel’s apartheid rule. The right to self-determination and defence has been established by international law. If Google’s decision empowers Palestinians to reacquire the right to their homeland, Israel should rekindle their memory and realise that Palestinians were not consulted upon the establishment of the illegal occupation. Negotiating with the oppressor only serves to bequeath Israel with a harvest of undeserved impunity.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.