World Bulletin / News Desk
AN international push to make Google show Israel’s illegal wall around Palestinian territory on its Maps service will be launched this week by a Scottish MEP.
The SNP’s Alyn Smith will launch the #showthewall petition in partnership with the global activism network Avaaz, which has 44m members in 194 countries.
Smith, who sits on the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said the absence of the so-called “separation barrier” from Google Maps appeared “deliberate and excessive”.
Started in 2002 after a wave of suicide attacks by Palestinian militants, the wall is the largest infrastructure project in Israel’s history, and will run to around 440 miles when finished, twice the length of the 1949 armistice “green line” between Israel and the West Bank.
Deviating around Israeli settlements and East Jerusalem, it has isolated around 10 per cent of West Bank territory, cutting off thousands of Palestinians from their land and families.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled the wall was illegal.
But despite its scale and importance, the wall and its numerous checkpoints are not marked on Google Maps and are virtually absent from Google Street View.
A 1997 US law banning the release of detailed satellite imagery of Israel also means Google Earth’s view of the country is at too low a resolution to see the barrier.
However Smith said Google Maps and Street View were not covered by this law, and they should offer “an honest view of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.
Smith first complained about the omission to Matt Brittin, the president of Google Europe, Middle East and Africa, in February.
Failing to show “a 2m high electrified barbed-wire fences with vehicle-barrier trenches and a 60-m wide exclusion zone on the Palestinian side” was a “clear misrepresentation,” he said.
His letter went unanswered.
This week’s petition is designed to ramp up the pressure on Google worldwide.
source: Tom Gordon for the Herald Scotland