Deputy FM tells Google: Recognition of Palestinian state undermines peace talks
In letter to Google CEO Larry Page, Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin urges company to rescind decision to refer to Palestinian territories as ‘Palestine,’ arguing that such measures encourage Palestinians to take one-sided actions.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin wrote to Google CEO Larry Page on Sunday urging the company to rescind its decision to refer to the Palestinian territories as “Palestine” on all its products. Elkin claimed this decision was liable to have a negative impact on efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“By so doing,” Elkin wrote, “Google is in essence recognizing the existence of a Palestinian state. Such a decision, is in my opinion, not only mistaken but could also negatively impinge on the efforts of my government to bring about direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“ … I would be grateful were you to reconsider this decision since it entrenches the Palestinians in their view that they can further their political aims through one-side actions rather than through negotiating and mutual agreement.”
Elkin concluded by proposing that Israeli representatives meet with representatives of Google to discuss the issue.
On Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor also slammed the decision, saying that Google isn’t a diplomatic entity with the authority to grant recognition to other states, “which begs the question why are they getting involved in international politics and on the controversial side.”
Google said over the weekend that its move was a response to the United Nations General Assembly’s vote last November to recognize Palestine as a nonmember observer state and to similar moves by other international agencies.
“We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products,” Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said on Friday. He explained that Google consults with various sources and authorities when naming countries, and in this case, it is following the lead of several international organizations, including the UN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the International Organization for Standardization.
Until about four or five years ago, Google had virtually ignored the Palestinian Authority’s existence. Only in 2009, for instance, did it decide to create a homepage for the Palestinian territories – google.ps. That same year, it removed all the territories Israel captured in 1967 from its maps of Israel.