Residents of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc located in Judea and Samaria near Jerusalem were shocked recently to see that, according to Google, they live in "Palestine."
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a rights group that puts an emphasis on serving settlement communities, reported that it has been receiving a steady stream of complaints from Gush Etzion residents as of late. Web users have apparently been astounded to discover that while trying to log into Google to perform searches, the search engine has been redirecting them to google.ps, the Palestinian handle, instead of google.co.il, as in the rest of Israel.
Shahar, a resident of one of the Gush Etzion settlements, responded to the geographical tangle, calling Google's apparent decision to include as Palestine the cluster of settlements just south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, "simply outrageous."
"It's unfortunate that the Google company, which is a business entity and not a political body, has decided that the residents of Judea and Samaria belong to the Palestinian Authority," wrote the legal forum's Director-General Nahi Eyal in a letter to Google. "We are calling on you to remove this kind of proclamation."
Google spokesperson Nathan Tyler clarified that Google Israel -- the company has offices in Tel Aviv and Haifa -- had not decided to include the Gush Etzion bloc in the Palestinian territories region, adding that the search engine aimed to provide the "best experience" for all of its users.