Palestinians drop bid to have FIFA suspend Israel (Photo : Memo)
Palestinians drop bid to have FIFA suspend Israel (Photo : Memo)

Ramallah, 12 Shaban 1436/30 May 2015 (MINA) –The Palestine Football Association (PFA) has dropped its proposal to suspend Israel from world football. The motion had been included on the agenda at the FIFA Congress in Zurich today, but Jibril Rajoub, president of Palestine FA, said he had been persuaded to back down.

“I decided to drop the suspension but it does not mean that I give up the resistance,” Rajoub said. He added that the Palestinians still demand the UN look into the status of five Israeli football league teams from illegal settlements in the West Bank, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) reports as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).

Haartez reported that Israeli officials met with FIFA officials until late Thursday night in an effort to draft a compromise proposal, while earlier in the day, pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s opening remarks, waving red cards at FIFA representatives and chanting “Israel out!” before being escorted out of the hall.

The PFA and activists had accused Israel of hampering its activities and restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel cites security concerns for the restrictions it imposes and the country’s football association has argued that it has no control over security forces.

FIFA has been trying to settle the matter for two years and Blatter, ealier this month, travelled to the region and meet Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

UPDATE: The FIFA World Congress passed an amended version of the Palestinian proposal, which calls for the formation of a committee to look into freedom of movement of Palestinian soccer players. The committee would also look at Israeli racism and the status of Israeli league teams based in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the developments on Friday, saying in a statement that the result “proved our international efforts paid off and brought about the failure of the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to expel us from FIFA (and) I want to thanks those involved… especially Israel Football Association chairman Ofer Eini.”

Netanyahu further said that “Israel is interested in peace which would create security for its citizens, but this will not be achieved through coercion and manipulation. The only way to reach peace is through direct negotiations.” (T/P002/R04)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)