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Eddie Izzard barred from Palestine Marathon over Tel Aviv comedy gig

British comedian, who had planned to run in Friday's race, accused of seeking to 'whitewash Israeli apartheid' by performing in Tel Aviv
The poster for Eddie Izzard's show in Tel Aviv (screen-grab)

British comedian Eddie Izzard has been barred by organisers from running in the Palestine Marathon on Friday after he declined to cancel a gig in Tel Aviv on Thursday night. 

Izzard performed in Tel Aviv on Thursday night and had planned to then run in the Palestine Marathon, an event organised by the Palestine Olympic Committee. The marathon starts from the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and takes runners through two refugee camps and along the Wall running between Israel and the West Bank. The aim of the event is to highlight the restrinctions imposed on Palestinians' freedom of movement. 

Izzard, a UNICEF ambassador, ran 27 marathons in tribute to Nelson Mandela in 2016 as part of a charity fund-raising effort and is a supporter of the Labour Party in the UK. He wanted to perform in Russian and Arabic at the Shlomo Group Arena in Tel Aviv. Artists for Palestine UK had campaigned to ask him to cancel the Tel Aviv gig and join the cultural and scientific boycott of Israel. 

But the comedian refused to comment on the campaign or cancel his show.  On Thursday night the Palestine Marathon organisers decided to reject his application to run in the marathon. 

"Eddie Izzard is not welcomed in the Palestine marathon after he has crossed our boycott picket line," commented the Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel. 

"Today, performing in Tel Aviv is equivalent to performing in Sun City during the time of apartheid, and there is no balancing act that can justify violating the Palestinian boycott call. We refuse to be used as a fig leaf to cover up Izzard's whitewashing of Israel's occupation and apartheid," the Campaign added.