Internet giant Google took a symbolic step last week, changing the tagline on the homepage of its Palestinian edition from “Palestinian territories” to “Palestine.”

The move marks another victory for the PLO, after it won an upgrade at the United Nations General Assembly in November, gaining the status of non-member observer state. Following the vote, the Palestinian Authority officially changed its name to the “State of Palestine,” with stamps, signs and letterheads reflecting the decision. The PA is an organ of the PLO.

“We’re changing the name ‘Palestinian territories’ to ‘Palestine’ across our products,” Google spokesman Nathan Tyler told the BBC on Friday. “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 Organization for Standardization] and other international organizations.”

“This is a step in the right direction, a timely step and one that encourages others to join in and give the right definition and name for Palestine instead of Palestinian territories,” Dr. Sabri Saidam, adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, told the BBC.

Israel received the news less warmly.

“This change raises questions about the reasons behind this surprising involvement of what is basically a private Internet company in international politics and on the controversial side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.

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