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Google's Palestine polarises opinion on statehood impact

Google's Palestine polarises opinion on statehood impact
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Google’s decision last week to put the name “Palestine” on its search page for the Palestinian territories has brought strong reactions both in favour and against.

Palestinians have welcomed what they see as a boost for their bid for statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

“I expect people who’re interested in tourism in Palestine or who want to to come to Palestine, when they search for Palestine on Google they can’t find it, they cannot find any information on Palestine. So this helps us for sure,” said Khaled Jarar, a resident of Ramallah.

It is a view echoed by Sabri Saidam, an adviser to President Abbas, who described the move as a “victory for Palestine and a step towards its liberation”.

“It’s important to open the gates for companies, to break the barrier of fear and hesitancy in this area. It puts Palestine on the internet map,” he said.

But the Israelis argue the move will make peace harder to achieve and do nothing for Palestinian statehood.

“They can do Google ‘Never Never Land’ if they want to and that’s cool. However, one cannot but wonder why does a private internet company want to get involved in international politics and international diplomacy, (and what) is more, to do that on the controversial side,” said foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

Google has said it is following the United Nations and other international organisations.

Israel was furious at last year’s overwhelming vote at the UN to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state and responded by announcing more settlement building.