Israel threatens Giro over Jerusalem wording

Snow at the Giro d'Italia (AFP)
Snow at the Giro d'Italia (AFP)

Jerusalem - Israeli officials threatened on Wednesday to drop their partnership of the first stage of the Giro d'Italia after organisers of the prestigious cycling event referred to the start of the race as "west Jerusalem". 

The first day of the 101st edition of the Italian race, set for May 4, 2018, will take place in the western sector of Jerusalem, the first time the race starts outside of Europe, in a major coup for Israel.

In the Giro's Wednesday announcement of the routes, organisers noted the race would begin with a time-trial in "west Jerusalem". The Palestinians want the annexed eastern sector of the city to be the capital of their future state. 

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community, and claims the entire city as its undivided capital.

Sports Minister Miri Regev and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said they threatened to back away from their partnership of the race, if the wording did not change. 

"In Jerusalem, Israel's capital, there is no east or west. There is one unified Jerusalem," a joint statement read, calling the use of the term "a breach of the agreements with the Israeli government". 

"If the wording does not change, the Israeli government will not be a partner in the event," they said in a statement.

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