Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin on Sunday sent a strongly worded letter to Google CEO Larry Page, in which he called on the internet giant to reconsider its decision to place the name "Palestine" on its search engine instead of "Palestinian Territories", in recognition of the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral bid at the United Nations.
In his letter, Elkin explained that Google’s move does not bring Israel and the PA closer to the negotiating table but in fact achieves the opposite, adding that such decisions further solidify the PA’s position, that by taking unilateral steps they will be recognized as a state without having to negotiate with Israel.
"Google's decision is puzzling," wrote Elkin, "especially given the fact that this is intervention by an international company in local politics, which does not serve the interests of either party in the long-term."
The Deputy Foreign Minister asked Google to hold another discussion on the issue, attended by representatives from Israel who will clarify the Israeli position which extends an open hand to peace at every opportunity, as opposed to the PA’s unilateral measures which causes its leadership to again and again miss opportunities to sit around the negotiating table.
"Google is an international company that changed the face of technology in the world and championed the desire to connect between people. Such a move effectively contradicts this goal and keeps the parties further apart from engaging in shared dialogue," added Elkin.
"I believe that simply due to Google’s status, it will succeed in doing some re-thinking and change this erroneous decision,” he said.
Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said on Friday, that Google would be “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'.