Internet giant Google has recognized the Palestinians' upgraded UN status, placing the name "Palestine" on its search engine instead of "Palestinian Territories," the US company said on Friday, raising the ire of Israel.
The domain name www.google.ps, Google's search engine for the territories, now brings up a homepage with "Palestine" written underneath the Google logo.
The change took effect on Wednesday, Google spokesman Nathan Tyler said in a statement.
"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... and other international organizations," he said.
The UN General Assembly on November 29 upgraded Palestine to the status of non-member observer state by a vote of 138 votes in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions.
Palestinian authorities have since begun to use the "State of Palestine" in diplomatic correspondence and issued official stamps for the purpose.
Israel questioned Google's decision.
"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.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's telecommunications adviser Sabri Saydam said Google's move was "a step in the right direction".
"We hope Google maps will also show the fact that Palestinian land has been stolen from Israel's colonization," he told AFP.
The Palestinians' bid for UN observer status angered Israel and the United States, who were among the few countries to vote against it, with top US diplomats warning the Palestinians that they had essentially achieved nothing.
"Today's grand announcements will soon fade and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow to find little of their lives has changed, save [that] the prospects of a durable peace have receded," said Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, on the day of the vote.
And in an apparent response the following day, Israel announced plans to build 3,000 new settler homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, which were condemned internationally as a setback to peace.
Palestinians demand a cessation of Jewish settlement building in Palestinian territories as a precondition for any return to the negotiating table.