Outrage over Israeli government website with ‘Palestine’ option

Right-wing groups demand an investigation into how “the invention called the State of Palestine” could be offered as a “place of birth” on an official Israeli website.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Right wing organizations are up in arms over an Israeli government website that lists ‘Palestine’ as a country, when Jerusalem does not recognize such an entity.

The site, “mybenefits.gov.il,” provides information on a wide array of benefits to which citizens and non-citizens are entitled – concerning labor rights, disability payments, housing and retirement, and the like.

The website is the responsibility of the Government ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Authority, which until this year was run from the Prime Minister’s Office. In 2022, the Authority and the National Digital Israel Initiative was placed under the purview of the Economy Ministry, whose outgoing minister is Orna Barbivai of Yesh Atid.

Palestine option on govt website

Option of “Palestine” as country of birth, listed in Hebrew on an official Israeli government website. (mybenefits.gov.il/screenshot)

Among the questions the user is required to answer in order to receive information is “Country of Birth.” Nestled between Palau and Panama, with tiny icons of their flags, is “Palestine,” with its flag as well.

Shai Glick of the Jewish human rights NGO Betzalmo was outraged by the revelation.

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“There has never been a state of Palestine,” he told World Israel News. “It’s one big fake news. It’s simply impossible that a government body would recognize this lie. Moreover, the establishment of a Palestinian state means the annihilation of the Jewish people, so it’s forbidden to recognize such a thing even by mistake. I demand the immediate removal of the term ‘Palestine’ from the government search engine.”

Alon Shvartzer, Policy Department head of Im Tirtzu, an organization that works to strengthen the values of Zionism in Israel, demanded an internal investigation in order “to ascertain how such an error could have occurred and ensure that it never happens again.”

Shvartzer and Glick wrote a joint letter to the head of the National Digital Israel Initiative Wednesday regarding the “helping hand” that the website is giving to “the invention called the State of Palestine.”

Since such an entity “would seriously harm the lives of Israeli citizens,” and only a Palestinian Authority currently exists, they requested its immediate removal.

Apparently giving the agency the benefit of the doubt, they added, “We are sure that it happened by mistake, due to the adoption of a raw data set.”

Forum Dror, a right-wing group within the Likud, called on the relevant ministry “to order a thorough investigation of the issue and its immediate rectification, adding that all government websites must be checked for the same problem “and ensure that these ‘accidental glitches’ are all fixed.”

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“Palestine” is recognized by 138 of the 193 member states of the United Nations, however, not by Israel, the United States or most Western countries. Israel has fought in many international forums against such recognition, as setting the borders of such a state should be a final-status issue to be negotiated directly between the PA and Israel, as per the Oslo Accords.