Google Slammed for “Palestine” Search Banner

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -

A senior Israeli official accused Google on Monday of setting back Middle East peace hopes by putting the name “Palestine” under the banner of its search page for the Palestinian territories.

“I think that the Google decision from the last few days is very, very problematic,” said Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin, a confidant of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“When a company like Google comes along and supports this line, it actually pushes peace further away, pushes away negotiations, and creates among the Palestinian leadership the illusion that in this manner they can achieve the result,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.

Palestinians hailed Google’s move as a virtual victory. Following the U.N. lead upgrading Palestinian diplomatic status there last November, Google’s Palestinian homepage and other products previously labeled “Palestinian Territories” were changed on May 1 to read “Palestine.”

A Google spokesman in Israel referred Reuters to a statement from last week in which it said: “We are following the lead of the U.N. … and other international organizations.”