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Google 'recognizes' Palestine as a state

Google has renamed its Palestinian edition from 'Google Palestinian Territories' to the more controversial 'Google Palestine.'

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Visitors to Google.ps will now see a tagline that reads "Palestine" rather than "Palestinian Territories". It's a controversial move for Google that is seen as recognizing Palestine as a state. (Google.ps/Screengrab)

Google has taken a big semantic leap forward in "recognizing" Palestine as a state, switching the tagline of its Google country homepage from "Palestinian Territories" to "Palestine."

The change, introduced on May 1, means that visitors to Google.ps will now see the word "Palestine" in both Arabic and English under Google's logo.

The new terminology is a controversial move by the internet giant. Google's name swap follows a November vote by the United Nations General Assembly to recognize Palestine as a full non-member state. Previously, it was considered only an "observer entity."

The UN vote gave Palestine strong international backing, despite the objections of Israel and the United States, which voted against the change.

More from GlobalPost: UN recognizes non-member state of Palestine in overwhelming vote

Google's decision to recognize Palestine is a small but important victory for advocates of Palestinian statehood. 

Google spokesman Nathan Tyler told the BBC on Friday that the company was changing 'Palestinian Territories' to 'Palestine' across the brand's products.

"We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries," Tyler told the BBC. "In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, Icann [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organization for Standardization] and other international organizations."

The Palestinian Authority said that Google made the right decision.

"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," Dr. Sabri Saidam, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the BBC.

"Most of the traffic that happens now happens in the virtual world and this means putting Palestine on the virtual map as well as on the geographic maps," he added.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/130503/google-recognizes-palestine-state