(JTA) — A group of six Israeli runners reportedly was excluded from the West Bank portion of a regional long-distance run.
Dubbed the Peace Run and led by Australian ultra-marathoner Paul Farmer, the course began in Lebanon and wound its way through Israel and the West Bank before ending Monday in Jerusalem.
The group of Israeli runners, organized jointly by the Yesha Council, an umbrella settlers’ group, and Regavim, a right-wing legal nonprofit, joined the run as it headed south down Route 60, a West Bank highway. But Regavim’s director, Ari Briggs, told JTA that as soon as the group entered the run, the Palestinian contingent accompanying Farmer fell back and stopped running.
After a few miles, according to Briggs, Farmer told one of the Israelis that a delegation from the Palestinian Olympic Committee set to join the run would not come unless the Israelis left. Although Briggs said he hoped participating in the run would highlight the Jewish claim to the West Bank, none of the Israeli runners lived in settlements.
The Israeli group stopped running at Farmer’s request. Briggs told JTA he was disappointed that the Palestinians would not run alongside Israelis.
“It’s a peace run,” he said. “Let’s run together. I was very disappointed that they weren’t ready to run with us for even a meter.”
The Palestinian Olympic Committee has long had a policy of not training jointly with Israelis. In 2012, Palestinian Olympic delegation head Hani Halabi told JTA that in protest of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, he refused to use Israeli facilities to prepare for the 2012 London Games.