Palestinians boycott Jerusalem marathon, cancel soccer peace match

Friday, March 01, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

Despite claiming to foster peace and coexistence, the Palestinians this week called for a boycott of the Jerusalem marathon and cancelled a soccer exhibition that would have pitted Israeli and Palestinian players against international powerhouse FC Barcelona.

Up to 20,000 people from around the world were expected to take part in the third annual Jerusalem Marathon on Friday. The marathon has received international acclaim and attracted major foreign sponsors.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had hoped the event could demonstrate coexistence and a joint desire by Israelis and Palestinians to build up the holy city.

But Palestinian officials said they view the marathon as an exertion of Jewish authority over a city the Palestinians claims as their own.

The soccer match between an Israeli-Palestinian team and FC Barcelona was embarrassingly called off after Israeli President Shimon Peres and FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell had already announced that the event would take place on July 31.

After meeting with Peres, Rosell traveled to Ramallah where Palestinian Authority official Jibril Rajoub informed him that the match would not take place because his regime did not deem it to be appropriate.

"The decision was made without consulting us," Rajoub told Israeli radio. "They think that it is our obligation to do what the masters of the region demand. I heard about the idea from the Peres Center after they had already arranged it all."

Rajoub's reaction was reminiscent of a recent decision by the Bethlehem Municipality to forbid local businesses and organizations from having private dealings with Israelis.

The Palestinian Authority insists that all interaction with Israel must go through it so as to remain in line with official PLO policies. Private dealings between Israelis and Palestinians might result in actual normalization and peaceful coexistence, and, apparently, we can't have any of that...

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