Israeli minister says to stand up for Munich dead

LONDON Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:57pm EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Israel's sports minister, Limor Livnat, said she would mark the memory of the 11 Israelis killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics during a key moment of the London Games opening ceremony on Friday.

Livnat, Israel's most senior politician at the ceremony, said she would stand for a symbolic minute's silence as International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge speaks during the opening of the Games, Israeli media reported.

Senior international figures including U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have called for a tribute to the 11 men who were killed in a standoff in Munich with Palestinian Black September gunmen.

Family members of the athletes, coaches and officials who were killed, have tried for four decades to persuade the IOC to organize an official commemoration.

Rogge led a surprise tribute in the athletes village in London on Monday but that low-key event failed to satisfy the victims' relatives and Olympic organizers rejected calls to hold a minute's silence during the opening ceremony.

At the official send-off for the Israeli delegation in Jerusalem earlier this month, Livnat criticized compatriot and IOC member Alex Gilady for failing to support a call to commemorate the 11 men.

She said Gilady had told her that he would not support a move that could jeopardize the unity of the Olympic movement and "he would not give (Israel's) enemies an excuse to boycott the Olympic Games".

"(Gilady is) the only Israeli in the IOC, the one who should be at the forefront of the Israeli struggle to commemorate the 11 at the opening ceremony, the Israeli whom the whole of Israeli society expects to represent the bereaved families that asks that its sons be recognized," Livnat said at the time.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met the Olympic delegation later, said the events of Munich had damaged the Olympic ethos.

"I think that after 40 years, the time has come to stand for a moment of silence ... this is our demand of the IOC," Netanyahu added.

The IOC told Reuters that Rogge was expected to attend a commemorative event organized by the Israeli Olympic Committee during the second week of the Games, on August 6

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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