Alyn Smith MEP: Google Maps must show Palestine separation wall

Stuart Rodger

Alyn Smith MEP launches petition urging Google to amend its map of the occupied territories

Alyn Smith MEP has launched a campaign to urge Google to show the Israel-Palestine separation barrier on its popular online Maps service. 

His #ShowTheWall campaign includes the launch of an online petition in conjuction with global campaign group Avaaz. The launch of the petition follows repeated letters to Google from Smith complaining about the huge wall’s omission from digital maps of the middle east.

Smith said: “Frankly, I am astonished that there is no sign of the separation wall on Google Maps. Frankly, I am not sure how it is even possible Google Maps have managed to get away with this for so long.”

Smith, who is a member of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, continued:”This is not a temporary fence we’re talking about. The Wall is 280 miles in length and up to 8m high, and is the largest infrastructure project in Israel's history and has been separating Palestinian areas for decades; its foundations were laid years before the Google Maps service was launched.”

The Israel-Palestine barrier is concrete perimeter wall separating Israel from the West Bank, which was first erected in 2000 during a period of intense conflict between occupied Palestinians and Israeli forces, and will be 440 miles long upon completion. Its advocates say it keeps Israeli citizens safe from suicide bombings, but Palestinians and their international supporters say it is an abuse on the right of Palestinians to move on their historic lands.

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The barrier stretches into the West Bank itself and includes around 8.5 per cent of Palestinian territory, home to around 28,000 Palestinians. It has been condemned as illegal by the International Court of Justice, while the United Nations general assembly voted by 150-6 calling on Israel to respect this judgment.

Addressing concerns, Smith said: “I understand that Israel has very specific security needs, but this goes beyond any explanation of this nature. Google Maps is not showing any images in real time, and we are talking about public areas here, public roads,which in theory should be accessible to anyone.”

The petition reads: “Google’s motto is ‘Don’t be evil’, yet by distorting reality in Palestine the West Bank and Gaza, and only showing the routes available to the Israeli army and illegal settlers, Google is providing a partial service that goes against its key values. It should show the world as it is.”

Smith said: “We must tell Google to show the wall and that this practice is unacceptable. It distorts reality, applies unwarranted censorship and undermines the efforts of millions of people around the world who are campaigning for a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine.”

Picture courtesy of Ted Swedenburg

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