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Umbrella group will hold international event to honor athletes opposing normalization with Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine (GCRP) will give awards to all athletes who have withdrawn from various international sports tournaments to refuse normalization with Israel, or have refused to confront athletes from the occupying entity. (Photo by GCRP)

An anti-Israel umbrella group says it will hold an international event to honor athletes opposing normalization with Israel in late January, as Tel Aviv continues to “sportswash” its flagrant human rights violations and its appalling crimes against Palestinians through using its presence in international sports and cultural events.

The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine (GCRP) said in an announcement posted on its official Facebook and Twitter accounts that it would hold the International Forum to Honor Anti-Normalization Athletes in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, from January 31 until February 2.

The GCRP, which is an umbrella organization for civil society associations that support the Palestinian cause, both in the Arab countries and the world, added that the three-day event would take place in “recognition of the heroic act of anti-normalization athletes, and with the participation of international personalities.”

According to the announcement, the international forum would honor champion athletes who “withdrew from various international sport tournaments in refusal to normalize with the usurping entity, or to confront Zionist players.”

The GCRP, which has representatives and partners in over 45 countries around the world to set up events and movements to advocate the Palestinian cause and especially the right of return, added in its announcement that such champion athletes would be awarded the “Al-Quds Golden Medal.”

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed US-brokered normalization agreements with Israel in an event in Washington in September 2020. Sudan and Morocco followed suit later that year. Palestinians have condemned the deals as a treacherous “stab in the back” by the Arab regimes.

In late 2020, Tunisia reiterated that its stance on Palestine is unchanged and it would seek no normalization with Tel Aviv. The country said at the time that Tunisians feel solidarity with the Palestinian people and strongly support their rights, which have been recognized by numerous United Nations resolutions and various international bodies, particularly the UN Security Council and the General Assembly.

In February 2021, about 200 clerics and scholars in Mauritania declared the normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel religiously forbidden, emphasizing that the establishment of ties with the occupying regime is not permissible in any case. In May, Kuwait’s National Assembly unanimously approved legislation that outlaws any deals or normalization of ties with Tel Aviv. And in June, Qatar said it would not normalize with Israel unless the regime ends its occupation of Palestinian land, and the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

In September, Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq National Islamic Society denounced Manama’s normalization of relations with Israel as “a crime,” emphasizing that the Al Khalifah regime’s policies do not conform to the will of the Bahraini nation.

In November, the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), an organization of Islamic theologians, declared that any normalization of ties with Israel is religiously forbidden, and that the move by some Arab governments to make peace with the occupying regime amounts to a “betrayal” of the Palestinian nation’s rights.

Separately, athletes from Muslim nations have on numerous occasions refused to face Israeli opponents at key international competitions in protest at Israeli atrocities and the occupation of Palestinian lands, and the normalization with Tel Aviv.

Israel lays claim to the entire al-Quds, but the international community views the city’s eastern sector as occupied territory and Palestinians consider it the capital of their future state.

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