Days after Google was accused of removing Palestine from its map and placing the partially recognised state’s name with Israel, the search engine giant explained the country “has never been” on the service.
Responding to criticism, Google said that Palestine had never been marked as a territory on its map, but that a glitch in the software had resulted in Palestinian areas being removed. “There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps,” said a spokesperson for Google. “However, we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip’. We’re working quickly to get these labels back to the area.”
The row came after Gaza City journalism group spotted a change in the way Google represented Palestine on a map of Israel, terming it a “failed attempt” aimed at “falsifying history and geography.”
An online petition titled “Google: Put Palestine on your maps” was also put up on Change.org and attracted over 312,000 signatures as of Friday, accusing Google Maps of “making itself complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine” either on purpose or inadvertently. The petition, drafted by Zak Martin, slammed the omission of the UN non-member observer state’s name on the map as a “grievous insult” to Palestinians.
Google shows a dashed border around West Bank and Gaza, and defines cities in those regions as Palestinian if you click on them. A Wikipedia knowledge box on Maps describes Palestine as a “de jure sovereign state,” a term selected by the United Nations in 2013.