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Palestine Has Never Been on Apple or Google Maps

posted on: Jul 29, 2020

Palestine Has Never Been on Apple or Google Maps

While Israel is clearly marked on Google Maps, Palestinian territories are not – source: change.org

By: Laila Shadid/Arab America Contributing Writer

Palestine has never been on Apple or Google Maps.

A couple of weeks ago, Apple and Google were accused of removing Palestine from their maps. Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok posts went viral, spreading the false information that these two tech giants had ever recognized Palestine.

However, as of 2012, 138 members of the United Nations recognize Palestine as a country.

The user who started the trend, “Astagfirollah,” updated their caption to confirm that Palestine has never been on Apple or Google Maps but not before the post spread outrage across social media and news platforms.

In the summer of 2016, similar social media posts surfaced, accusing Google of removing Palestine from their maps. The company released a statement in response:

“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,’” Google said. “We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.”

Starting a Petition

Rage turned to action with a petition through change.org, which demands that Google marks the West Bank and Gaza as Palestine on their maps. Since its inception four years ago, over one million people have signed the petition.

“Palestine does not appear on Google maps,” petition creator Zak Martin wrote. “Why not? Israel, established on Palestinian land, is clearly designated. But there is no mention of Palestine. According to Google, Palestine does not exist.”

“The omission of Palestine is a grievous insult to the people of Palestine and undermines the efforts of the millions of people who are involved in the campaign to secure Palestinian independence and freedom from Israeli occupation and oppression,” he continued.

Martin cited the absence of Palestine on Google Maps as “an important issue” since people trust and utilize Google worldwide, especially in research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Whether intentionally or otherwise, Google is making itself complicit in the Israeli government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”

Palestine Has Never Been on Apple or Google Maps
Palestine is clearly labeled in a 1923 map of the Middle East located in the Air and Space Museum

On the other hand, some believe that this concern detracts from more important issues affecting the Palestinian community.

“Palestinians don’t want the word ‘Palestine’ on Google Maps while the actual reality is still segregated roads, an apartheid wall, living in bantustans and the world’s largest open aire prison, refugee camps, and children being arrested and put through military trials,” Twitter user “Rawan” wrote, a post which garnered 7.7k likes and 2.2k retweets and comments.

Palestine Has Never Been on Apple or Google Maps
Source: https://twitter.com/shariaprelaw/status/1283544938593030145

International Responses

The recent Israeli annexation plan aims to annex up to 30 percent of the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley—an act illegal under international law. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has President Donald Trump’s support under his Middle East peace plan, which he released this January.

On Monday, July 20, China followed the United Nations Security Council by condemning Israeli annexation in a conversation between President Xi Jinping and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

As annexation looms and Palestinians continue to suffer under occupation, Google Maps may be the least of their worries. Regardless, recognition of the country is recognition of the people—people who can’t be erased.

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