Google Maps didn’t erase Palestine, but it shows the reality

Google Maps app is full of interactive features to help its users find the place they're looking for, as well as recommend places to discover. Image Source: ATS

Forum of Palestinian Journalists released a statement claiming Google had erased Palestine from the Google Maps app. However, many online outlets and independent investigators have proven the claim false. In fact, the mapping app hasn’t updated the area since 2013 when the United Nations updated its established geographical designation.

If people open Google Maps and search for Palestine, they will see a demarcated, but unlabeled territory. If they look carefully, the country appears as one of the areas under the control of Israel. Regardless, the people from Palestine felt their sovereignty was under attack, and they have used social media to communicate their discomfort.

Israel and Palestine have been the protagonists of a never-ending feud in the Middle East, and when the Palestinian journalists realized about the 2013 Google Maps update, they called for a boycott of the North American company.

Palestinian journalists accused Google of attacking Palestine’s sovereignty 

The Forum of Palestinian Journalists condemned Google for reportedly deleting the name of Palestine from its desktop web mapping service Google Maps on July 25. The group labeled the action as a crime and requested Google to apologize to all Palestinians. The journalists made it official in a statement posted on the organization’s website on August 3.

They also alleged it was a failed attempt to distort history, geography, and memory as well as hinder the Palestinian people’s demand to be recognized as a sovereign state and finally reclaim their homeland from Israel.

Middle-Eastern news media immediately reacted with full coverage on the matter, while the general public turns to Facebook and Twitter to express their indignation. Although Google hasn’t officially responded, the whole thing is just a big misunderstanding.

Google shows Palestine as an unlabeled demarcated area
Google shows Palestine as an unlabeled demarcated area. Image credit: Product reviews.

The tech giant hasn’t even changed anything related to Palestine on its maps. If users take the time to search Palestine in Google Maps today, they will see the same image they have seen since 2013. That year, Google changed its designation to Palestine from Palestinian territories after the United Nations did so.

Israel controls a big portion of Palestinian territory 

The results for Palestine in Google Maps show a demarcated, but unlabeled, region stretching from the West Bank (bordering Israel and Jordan) to the Gaza Strip (bordering Israel and Egypt) with East Jerusalem as the designated capital.

When users click on any of the cities within the unnamed Palestinian region, a Palestinian label pops up along a Wikipedia-sourced Knowledge Box that describes Palestine as a de jure sovereign state. Most states have recognized this claim, but a significant share of the territory is under the de facto control of Israel since 1967 following the Six-Day War.

Bing shows Palestine on the map
Bing shows Palestine on the map. Image credit: Product Reviews.

Although Google Maps does differentiate Palestine from Israel, many Palestinians are still discontent with it for not openly labeling Palestine as a territory. Thus, their solution has been to switch to Microsoft’s Bing Maps, which clearly labels Palestine. Apple Maps, meanwhile, does not differentiate or label it, so they’re basically out of the race for Palestinian people.

Taiwan, which claims to be an independent country apart from China, Jerusalem, claimed by both Israel and Palestine as its capital city, and Crimea, separately claimed by Russia and Ukraine, are other disputed regions that cause problems to mapping apps.

Source: Washington Post