Internet giant Google has changed the tagline on the homepage of its Palestinian edition from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine”.
The change, introduced on 1 May, means google.ps now displays “Palestine” in Arabic and English under Google’s logo.
Using the word Palestine is controversial for some. Israeli policy is that the borders of a Palestinian state are yet to be agreed.
In November, the UN gave Palestine the status of “non-member observer state”.
The decision by the General Assembly was strongly opposed by Israel and the United States. Previously, Palestine only had “observer entity” status.
It followed an unsuccessful Palestinian bid to join the international body as a full member state in 2011 because of a lack of support in the UN Security Council.
Palestinians in general seek recognition for the state they are trying to establish and the adoption of the name Palestine.
Israel considers any formal use of the word Palestine as pre-judging the outcome of currently stalled peace talks. In much of Israel’s official terminology the West Bank is referred to as Judea and Samaria.
In a statement given to the BBC on Friday, Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said: “We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian Territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products. We consult a number of sources and authorities when naming countries.
“In this case, we are following the lead of the UN, Icann [the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers], ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation] and other international organisations.”
The Palestinian Authority (PA) welcomed Google’s decision.
Mr. Obama was expected to tell the Palestinians that the creation of a Palestinian state remains a priority for his administration.
He was not bringing a new plan to relaunch peace talks, but in meetings with the Palestinians and a speech to Israeli students later in the day, he was to appeal to both sides to halt unilateral actions that make negotiations more difficult.
Those troublesome actions include continued construction of Jewish housing settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians and repeated Palestinian efforts to achieve recognition at the United Nations in the absence of a peace agreement.
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama reaffirmed the unwavering U.S. commitment to Israel’s security and noted there had been no fatal attacks on Israelis from the West Bank, which is controlled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
That calm has not extended to Gaza, which is run by the militant Islamic Hamas movement.
As Mr. Obama began his program Thursday, Israeli police said militants in Gaza had fired two rockets at the southern town of Sderot.
One of the rockets exploded in the courtyard of a house in Sderot early in the morning, causing damage but no injuries, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. The other landed in an open field. Sirens wailed in Sderot shortly after the 7 a.m. rocket attack, forcing residents on their way to work or school to run to bomb shelters.
FACING AN election in which his most dangerous competition is from the far right, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted a familiar tactic: a flurry of announcements of new construction in Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The predictable result has been a storm of denunciations by the United States and every other member of the U.N. Security Council, along with dire predictions that the new building would “make a negotiated two-state solution . . . very difficult to achieve,” as British Foreign Secretary William Hague put it.
The criticism is appropriate, in the sense that such unilateral action by Israel, like the unilateral Palestinian initiative to seek statehood recognition in November from the U.N. General Assembly, serves to complicate the negotiations that are the only realistic route to a Middle East peace. But the reaction is also counterproductive because it reinforces two mistaken but widely held notions: that the settlements are the principal obstacle to a deal and that further construction will make a Palestinian state impossible.
Twenty-five years ago, Israel’s government openly aimed at building West Bank settlements that would block a Palestinian state. But that policy changed following the 1993 Oslo accords. Mr. Netanyahu’s government, like several before it, has limited building almost entirely to areas that both sides expect Israel to annex through territorial swaps in an eventual settlement. For example, the Jerusalem neighborhoods where new construction was announced last month were conceded to Israel by Palestinian negotiators in 2008.
The one-time Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals once famously quipped that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. That quote comes to mind in thinking about the fact that the UN General Assembly — the same august body that welcomed Yassir Arafat at its podium while he wore a handgun strapped to his side and that declared the yearning of the Jewish people for self-determination to be racism — is poised today to recognize a “state” of Palestine.
What does and what will the UNGA’s action actually mean in practice? Professor Barry Rubin provides what, in my view, is one of the most accurate and dispassionate analyses:
Twenty-four years ago, almost to the day, in 1988, I stood in a large hall in Algeria and saw Yasir Arafat declare the independence of a Palestinian state. And that was forty-one years, almost to the day, after the UN offered a Palestinian state in 1947. Twelve years ago Israel and the United States officially offered a Palestinian state as part of a compromise at deal in the Camp David summit of 2000.
Arguably, despite all their errors, the Palestinian movement has made progress since those events, though it is not very impressive progress. Yet in real terms there is no real Palestinian state; the movement is more deeply divided than at any time in its history; and the people aren’t doing very well.
Now the UN will probably give Palestine the status of a non-member state. The only thing that will change is to convince people even more that they are following a clever and successful strategy. They aren’t.
To read his complete analysis, follow the link:
The Palestinian Authority Saturday denied that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was considering postponing a request to the UN to upgrade the status of a Palestinian state.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for Abbas, said that the decision to present the Palestinian request to the UN this month has been taken by the Palestinian leadership and the Arab countries.
He pointed out that the Palestinians circulated over the weekend a draft proposal of the statehood bid to the UN.
“The decision has been taken and there will be no backtracking on it,” Abu Rudaineh said. “We will go the Un to ask for a state within the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
When rivals negotiate, Steven J. Brams’ suggests using the adjusted winner technique, which gives negotiators 100 points apiece and for them to start the bidding.
With the Arab world and the Middle East in turmoil, Israel may soon find itself negotiating with a new and unfamiliar government in Egypt.
When the uneasy neighbors do meet, how many points would Egypt bid, out of a possible 100, for Israel to bless the creation of a Palestinian state, especially if that calculation came at the expense of bids on other matters of importance to Egypt?
Steven J. Brams has examined the current peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, negotiated at Camp David, Md., in 1978, as a way to test his theories about fairness and his recommendation that international disputes, like divorces and business split-ups, be negotiated using a point system.
When Brams thinks about dividing up goods in a negotiation, he has several goals. One is efficiency, where no other allocation is better for one player and at least as good for all the other players. Another is envy-freeness, where each player thinks it receives at least a tied-for-largest portion, so it does not envy what the other side receives.
What he recommends when what is being negotiated is divisible — land, Palestinian rights, diplomatic recognition, etc. — is a technique called adjusted winner.
Under his system, each of two players is given 100 points to distribute across two or more goods. After the players make their point assignment independently, the goods are then allocated based on the highest bids. If one side gets goods worth more points than the other side overall, an adjustment is made, via negotiations, to even the point totals, so that the side that got more gives something back to the side with fewer points.
Such a system doesn’t eliminate negotiations but requires them to be structured so that both sides avoid entangling details. As Brams notes, most negotiations get hung up on the procedural issues — say, the shape of the negotiating table (israelmatzav.blogspot.com ) — before arriving at the substantive matters.
There are ways such a system can fail, too, especially if it doesn’t discourage each side from concealing its true position or attempting manipulation.
Iceland? Cyprus? What the hell man?
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, who was visiting the North Atlantic country for talks with his counterpart Ossur Skarphedinsson, welcomed the decision saying it had “great meaning” and went further than previous declarations of solidarity with Palestine.
According to the decision, Iceland recognizes an independent and sovereign State of Palestine within the pre-1967 Six Day War borders.
The two ministers also discussed the Palestinian bid to join the United Nations and how to restart the peace process in the Middle East, Reykjavik said.
Late last month, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Cyprus recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
First plane of earthquake relief departs for Ankara; Turkish FM Davutoglu maintains harsh rhetoric, says Turkey must “press hard” on Israel.
The 747 plane chartered by the Defense Ministry carried seven prefabricated homes that have all the necessary electric wiring and can be lived in immediately by people who lost their homes in Sunday’s earthquake that devastated the eastern province of Van and killed more than 460 people. The plane, which will land in Ankara, is also carrying warm clothes, blankets and mattresses.
“We believe that if we will press hard enough on Israel, we will bring it to a situation where it will be convinced that it needs to carry out its part of moving the diplomatic process forward and establishing a Palestinian state,” Israel Radio translated and quoted Davutoglu as saying.
His words, meanwhile, did not surprise officials in Jerusalem who had low expectations that the humanitarian aid would significantly improve the badly strained relationship with Ankara.
The US could withdraw funding from the United Nations if its members decide to recognise an independent Palestinian state, a close ally of US President Barack Obama has warned.
Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the UN, said there was “no greater threat” to US support and funding of the UN than the prospect of Palestinian statehood being endorsed by member states.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, plans to ask the UN General Assembly, which comprises all 192 members, to vote on recognition at its annual meeting in New York in September.
The US and Israel are pressing Mr Abbas to drop his plans. Mr Obama has strongly opposed the move, raising the prospect of a veto in the UN Security Council, which is expected to vote on a Palestinian statehood proposal in July.
But Palestinian officials have spoken of their determination to circumvent a US veto by deploying a rarely used Cold War mechanism known as “Uniting for Peace” under which a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly can override the Security Council.
The Arab League plans to ask the United Nations to grant full membership to a Palestinian state based on borders with Israel that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency.
The move comes after President Barack Obama made official the long-held — but rarely stated — U.S. support for a Palestinian state based on those borders, a position that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said can never happen.
The 22-member Arab states will seek membership for a Palestinian state — with East Jerusalem as its capital — during the next United Nations session in September, according to a statement released through QNA Saturday by the Ministerial Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative.