The Palestinian Liberation organisation (PLO) on Thursday called for athletes to boycott the 2013 Israeli marathon in Jerusalem calling it “a racist event which alludes to occupied Jerusalem being the undivided capital of Israel.”
Thousands are expected to take part in the marathon which is scheduled to take place on Friday. It will kick off from Israeli Knesset and go through West and East Jerusalem, including a short tour around the Old City.
A statement issued by the PLO said: “Taking part in this event means that participants recognise Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem.” The Organisation also called participation in the marathon “providing cover for Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.”
The Palestinian Olympics Committee, the Youth and Sport Supreme Council and the Palestinian Union for Athletes have all accused the marathon of being “racist.” They say it “reflects the racist face of the Israeli government which wants to take athletes from West to East Jerusalem considering the city their unified capital.”
The PLO statement went on to say, “This marathon is part of the Israeli policy in Jerusalem which aims at extending complete Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and isolating it from the other parts of Palestine.”
The statement also said, “Sponsoring this marathon is recognition by the sponsors, individuals or companies of the illegal Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem.”
Meanwhile, Israeli media reported the spokesman of the Israeli foreign ministry, Yigal Palmor, as saying, “It is better for the Palestinians if they backed this event. They are always at odds. If they backed the event, we could have carried it out together.”
More than 270 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem which Israel has occupied since 1967. The Western part of the city was occupied in 1948.
Israel insists on the annexation of East Jerusalem in order to establish what it calls “the unified and eternal capital of Israel.” The international community opposes Israel’s annexation plan.