by Sanaa Kamal
RAMALLAH/GAZA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- After Google and Apple removed Palestine from their online maps saying they want to display disputed territories "objectively," Palestinians decided that they will not sit idly by.
Venting anger at the two giants, youths in the West Bank and Gaza launched a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #FreePalestine calling the deletion move biased with Israel, demanding the companies to withdraw their decision.
Speaking to Xinhua, Ibrahim Hribat, a history teacher from the West Bank city of Nablus, said he believed the two companies were being "complicit" with the political approach taken by the United States that does not have a place for Palestinians on world maps.
"Removing Palestine from the maps was not a coincidence. Rather it was a prelude to the implementation of Washington's Middle East plan and the last nail in the coffin for the Palestinian issue," he told Xinhua.
He added that the U.S. administration and its institutions "may be able to remove the name of Palestine from the maps, but they will not be able to remove it from the souls of the Palestinians, no matter how long it takes."
Abdul Sattar Qassem, a Nablus-based political expert, also told Xinhua that deleting Palestine from the maps of Google and Apple is "part of a continuous series of measures aimed at implementing the U.S. foreign policy that wants to cleanse the Palestinian land from the Palestinians in a bid to establish a national homeland for the Jewish people only."
The anger even drew Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki to comment on the matter. He blamed Israel for "blackmailing" the companies and forcing them to erase Palestine from the maps.
The minister also offered an ultimatum, saying "if they do not comply with our demand, we will file a lawsuit against them to the international legal authorities."
However, that is not the only step planned to be taken by the Palestinian side.
Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Ishaq Sidr told Xinhua that the ministry is already mulling over the possibility of adopting an alternative search engines that are not biased against their issue.
In addition, the Palestinian government also tries to put pressure on the giants through powerful consumers who advocate against Google and Apple, a measure that the Palestinian leadership used before in 2016, when Google tried a similar trick, erasing Palestine from its maps.
Anger and dissatisfaction have also been felt in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas, the Islamic group that controls the enclave, said that the companies adopted the narration of the "Israeli occupation" surrendering to Israel's pressure.
Hazem Qassem, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement that the companies' move is "a denial of historical facts and a move that contradicts international and humanitarian laws ... making it possible for Israel to continue and violate international laws and decisions." Enditem