Palestinian officials on Friday accused the organizers of the Giro d’Italia cycle race of being “complicit in Israel’s military occupation” by starting the 2018 race from Jerusalem.
“By organizing such an event, Giro d’Italia is being complicit in Israel’s military occupation and its egregious violations of international law, conventions and consensus,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said in a statement.
“We urge Giro d’Italia to stop placating Israel at the expense of our fundamental human rights and freedoms and to move the race outside of Israel.”
The 101st Giro d’Italia is to begin in Jerusalem on May 4, 2018, the first time one of cycling’s three major races has started outside Europe.
But organizers have come up against local political sensitivities, the status of Jerusalem being one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move not recognized by the international community.
Following an outcry from Israeli ministers, the organizers of the prestigious Giro d’Italia cycling event on Thursday apologized for referring to the start of the race as being in “West Jerusalem,” and said they had removed the term from all official materials.
“Giro d’Italia is assuaging Israel by presenting Jerusalem as a unified city under Israel’s sovereignty,” Ashrawi said.
Israeli ministers on Wednesday had threatened to drop their partnership in the first stage of the Giro d’Italia if the wording was not altered.
“RCS Sport would like to clarify that the start of the Giro d’Italia 2018 will take place from the city of Jerusalem,” the organizers said in a statement on their website. “During the presentation of the 2018 race course, technical material containing the wording ‘West Jerusalem’ was used, due to the fact that the race will take place logistically in that area of the city. That particular wording, devoid of any political value, has been removed from any material related to the Giro d’Italia.”
Sports Minister Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin welcomed the change.
“Following our response to the Giro management, we are pleased to see the prompt reaction of the organizers in removing the name ‘West Jerusalem’ from their official announcements,” they said in a joint statement.