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Palestine Removed From Google Maps? It Was Never There in the First Place

Image credits: Google Maps.

Image credits: Google Maps.

Google has always attempted to stay out of regions where there are border disputes, including Kashmir in India and Pakistan.

A controversy over the country, Palestine, erupted late on Thursday night, when Twitter users noticed that the country was missing from Google Maps.

Palestine, where part of the holy city of Jerusalem is located, has been rife with its border disputes: it has had annexation, it has had military occupations, it has had its territories being encroached, intifadas, and along with it had displacement, dispute and death of its people.

Typing Palestine on Google maps will also point you to an approximate location - but no markers. A thin, grey line marks boundaries of a disputed, occupied region - but nowhere does the country have a name. The city of Jerusalem is marked, and it appears almost like Google has classified Palestine as a part of Israel - with no identity of its own.

Palestine, is recognized as a de jure sovereign state by the UN.

But Palestine does not find an official marker on Google.

Twitter users noticed this, and called Google Maps out for it.

A Change.Org petition was also started soon to put Palestine back on the map.

But was Palestine ever on Google Maps?

In 2016 too, Google Maps was accused of 'deleting Palestine off the Maps.' Back then, attention was brought to the issue after the forum of Palestinian journalists released a statement condemning Google.

A Google spokeswoman told the Guardian in 2016 that "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’. We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area."

Google has always attempted to stay out of regions where there are border disputes, including Kashmir in India and Pakistan.

Another Google spokesperson had clarified this in a 2014 where he explained that Google tries to "remain neutral on issues of disputed regions and borders, and make every effort to objectively display the dispute in our maps using a dashed gray border line. In countries where we have local versions of Google Maps, we follow local legislation when displaying names and borders."

first published:July 17, 2020, 14:45 IST