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Human rights groups urge Giro d’Italia to move race from Israel

A photo of a flyer urging the famed cycling race Giro d’Italia to relocate the start of its 2018 race from Israel

More than 120 human rights organisations, unions, ethical tourism associations, sports and faith-based groups from over 20 countries have urged premier cycling event Giro d’Italia to move its 2018 “Big Start” from Israel over the latter’s violations of international law and Palestinians’ human rights.

The call was issued ahead of the official race presentation on 29 November in Milan, which coincides with the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

According to the signatories, holding the Giro d’Italia in Israel will “both cover up Israel’s military occupation and discrimination against Palestinians and increase Israel’s sense of impunity, encouraging continued denial of Palestinians’ UN-stipulated rights”.

Individuals who have backed the call include Noam Chomsky, former United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Palestinian rights John Dugard and Richard Falk, and European Parliament members Eleonora Forenza, Curzio Maltese and Sergio Cofferati.

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As part of organising the “Big Start” event, Giro d’Italia is working with Israeli company Comtec Group, which has activities in illegal Israeli settlements. Meanwhile, in official race materials, Giro d’Italia is occupied East Jerusalem as if it were part of Israel.

Just days before the Giro d’Italia is to take place, the Israeli national cycling team, which is vying for one of four wildcard slots to compete in the Giro d’Italia, will participate in a race through occupied East Jerusalem to the illegal settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev.

The call urges race owner RCS MediaGroup “to move the start of the race to another country to ensure no involvement in Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights”.

The signatories also remind RCS, participating teams and sponsors of “the legal consequences and reputational damage stemming from collaborating with Israeli institutions and companies involved in violations of human rights and international law”.

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