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Google responds to allegations it ‘wiped’ Palestine off its maps

Users searching for Palestine on Google Maps will be zoomed into the correct geographical location with the country marked as Israel

Ismaeel Naar

Published: Updated:

More than 180,000 people have signed a petition online demanding Google to label Palestine on its Google Maps application after some alleged that it was removed in recent days.

The petition on Change.org, first posted five months ago, suggests that Google did not remove the label Palestine from the map but that it has marked the territory as Israel ever since.

The story resurfaced after international media outlets ran articles alleging the decision was only made recently.

In an emailed statement to Al Arabiya English, a Google spokesperson said it never really included Palestine on its maps.

“There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for “West Bank” and “Gaza Strip”. We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area,” the spokesperson said.

Users who in the past searched for Palestine on Google Maps would be zoomed into the correct geographical location with the country marked as Israel with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank territories labeled in red dotted lines. A glitch in recent days, however, has those red lines removed.

“As background, our basemap data, which includes information like place names, borders, and road networks, comes from a combination of third-party providers and public sources. While this helps us provide a comprehensive map, it also means that the amount of data we have varies from place to place and you can see this reflected in our maps.”

The Palestinian Journalists’ Forum said that Google removed the decision on July 25 and denounced the stance saying Google “is part of the Israeli scheme to establish its name as a legitimate state for generations to come and abolish Palestine once and for all.”

Google has officially recognized Palestine in the past when it changed the term “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine” across all its products in May 2013.