Israeli-Palestinian sports talks progress at IOC
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Israeli and Palestinian Olympic officials stepped up efforts to improve cooperation during a second round of talks with the IOC on Thursday.
With free movement for athletes and coaches high on the agenda, Israeli officials promised to present their government a Palestinian proposal to help overcome travel restrictions imposed on their territories.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge described the follow-up talks to a January summit as “frank and friendly.”
“The IOC has an obligation to support measures to protect athletes and to use sport as a tool for peace and development,” Rogge said in a statement.
Both parties agreed on the principle of lifting travel restrictions “taking into account the security issues in the region.”
Four years ago, the Palestinian national team was eliminated from 2010 World Cup qualifying by forfeit after some team players could not travel to Singapore for a return match.
Now the sides have built on a trip by Rogge last October to create regular dialogue.
They agreed Thursday to create a hotline for improving communications between the two national Olympic committees.
The IOC is promising increased funding from its Olympic Solidarity program to help more Palestinian athletes prepare for the 2012 London Games, with additional help from Israeli coaches and facilities.
The Olympic Council of Asia has also teamed with the IOC to prepare a road map and funding for improving the Palestinians’ sports infrastructure.
Israel and the Palestinians also want entry to the 2013 Mediterranean Games being staged in Turkey.
After two meetings in Lausanne this year, future talks are likely in Ramallah and Tel Aviv.