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Google recognizes Palestine in update to its localized search page

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Google has changed the localized search page that was previously labelled for the "Palestinian territories" to simply read "Palestine." Google spokesperson Nathan Tyler acknowledged the change — which went into effect on May 1st — to the BBC, explaining that the change will apply not just to Google's localized search page but will go into effect across the company's product line. "We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries," Tyler said. "In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, ICANN [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organisations."

Last November the United Nations granted Palestine non-member observer state status by a vote of 138 to 9, a move that was opposed by both Israel and the United States (41 UN members abstained in the vote). Previously it had been classified as a non-member observer entity.

Israel expressed concern over Google's change, with foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor telling AFP that "This change raises questions about the reasons behind this surprising involvement of what is basically a private internet company in international politics -- and on the controversial side."

The advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, said to the BBC that "This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories."