Palestinians fume after bike race pulls ‘West Jerusalem’ mention

Palestinian officials were irate after the Giro d’Italia removed controversial references to “West Jerusalem” from its website about the race in Israel.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Palestinian officials are fuming over the Giro d’Italia’s decision to remove references to “West Jerusalem” from its website about next year’s race following pressure from Israel.

Member of PLO Executive Committee Hanan Ashrawi accused Giro d’Italia of “assuaging Israel” by presenting Jerusalem as a unified city under Israel’s sovereignty.

The Giro d’Italia will “only serve to legitimize the annexation of Jerusalem and to distort the authenticity and character of the city,” she added.

She reiterated that “the international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and under international law and conventions, Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is unlawful and constitutes a direct violation of its obligations as a belligerent occupier.”

“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,” she added.

In conclusion, she urged 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.”

Israel considers the entire city to be its eternal capital.

Giro organizers caused a firestorm last week by implying that the Israeli capital is divided between east and west, invoking a political position that denies the unity of the city.

Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin immediately took notice of what they considered to be a slight on the capital city of the State of Israel. Levin threatened organizers, saying that “in the event that the publication on the site defining the starting point of the competition as ‘West Jerusalem’ is not changed, the government of Israel will not be involved in the event.”

Regev said, “In Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, there is no East and West. There is only one united Jerusalem.”

According to Levin, the website statement “violates the agreement made with the Israeli government” by the race organizers.

The offensive language was subsequently corrected.

Jerusalem will host the first stage of the 2018 race, but the route does not pass through any territory that could be considered controversial.

The Giro d’Italia cycling race, a premier global sports contest, will begin its 2018 event in Jerusalem, marking the first time in history that a Grand-Tour will take place outside of Europe.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the race as “a key event in the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.”