Ramallah, 26 Rabiul Awwal 1434 H/7 February 2013 (MINA) – The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Mohammed Hussein condemned the Zionists-led International Jerusalem Marathon which is scheduled for next month, according to IINA report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Thursday.
In a press statement, Hussein said the marathon that will be held in the city of Jerusalem is part of Israel’s efforts to Judaize the city and squeeze Palestinians out of the city. “The route of the marathon is due to run through Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that are considered occupied territory by the international community,” he said.
The Jerusalem Marathon is an international running competition held annually in Jerusalem during the month of March. Half-marathon races had been held in the city prior to the first official Jerusalem Marathon in 2011, but it was not until Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat pushed for a race conforming to international standards that the municipality made the full marathon an official annual event in the city.
The first full 42-kilometer (26.2-mile) race took place in March 2011 and drew 10,000 participants from forty countries. The three leading runners in the men’s race veered off course and arrived at the wrong finish line. The 2012 event, which drew 15,000 runners including 1,500 from fifty countries outside Israel, was marked by rain, strong winds and pounding hail.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that the third marathon will be held on Friday, March 1. Barkat said he will be running the half-marathon this year, while his wife will be running the 10k. The Israeli organizers said that 17,000 runners are expected to participate in the 21-km marathon, 1,600 from 52 other countries and more than 35 elite runners, primarily from Ethiopia and Kenya.
The marathon’s route, the organizers said, starts at the Israeli Knesset in the western part of Jerusalem and takes runners all the way out to settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev, before circling Hebrew University, entering the Jerusalem’s Old City at the Bab An-Nabi Dawoud (Zion Gate), wending its way through the hills of Rehavia and Talpiyot settlements to the promenade, and finally doubling back to the Knesset.
Zionists try to erase Islamic character of Jerusalem
Hussein accused Israel of using the religious and historic sites of Islam and Christianity in the city as propaganda for the marathon to distort the facts with the aim of erasing the Arab and Islamic character of Jerusalem.
The Grand Mufti called on the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to shoulder their responsibilities to protect Islamic and historical antiquities in Jerusalem.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the June 1967 War, annexed it in 1980, and has since built settlements there that are home to some 300,000 Jews. Control over the city has been seen as the most sensitive and thorniest issue of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians hope to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state but the Israel says the city is its eternal capital.
The US administration has been sponsoring the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, the Israeli-Palestinian direct peace talks were suspended in September 2010 after Israel refused to freeze settlement construction. The Palestinians insist not to resume any direct or indirect peace talks with Israel before the latter clearly declares a complete cessation of settlement activities in the territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem that Palestinians want the capital of their future state.
They also demand the release of 123 Palestinians who were arrested before the Oslo Accords in 1993. (T/P04/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency(MINA)