Pro-Palestinian activists decry abandoned vote on Israel’s FIFA suspension

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Jerusalem, May 30 (IANS) The pro-Palestinian campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel criticised the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) for withdrawing its proposal during the 65th FIFA Congress to vote on suspending Israel’s membership.

The Palestinian BDS national committee was disappointed that the FIFA Congress members, including PFA, did not live up to their obligations and self-proclaimed principles, reports Efe.

FIFA and its members may have delayed the suspension of Israel but they cannot stop the growing international boycott of Israel, a BDS statement said, adding that in the meantime, Israel’s human rights violations and war crimes committed against the Palestinian people will continue to alienate and isolate the country.

The statement also thanked civil society activists who supported the campaign to promote the suspension of Israel from the international football governing body.

While the Congress did not vote on Israel’s FIFA status, it did approve the creation of a mechanism to verify if Israel poses obstacles to Palestinian football, while it will also devote time to the issue of teams from illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories that play in the Israeli Premier League.

Of the 209 national associations present, 168 voted in favour of the investigative initiative, 18 against, while the rest abstained. Minutes before that vote, PFA dropped its request to suspend its Israeli counterpart.

PFA president Jibril Rajoub explained that he had agreed with his colleagues’ counsel to avoid bad blood in the governing body, but added that he would not give up on the cause to oblige Israel to respect FIFA regulations.

Rajoub lamented that no results were achieved despite the many attempts throughout the last three years to solve the problems plaguing Palestinian football due to restrictions imposed by Israel, such as restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players and sport-related assets (including grants), as well as cases of holding equipment for more than a year in Israeli customs.

The PFA president also referred to instances of racism and discrimination and condemned illegal settlement teams playing in Israel’s official league, suggesting that the matter be transferred to the United Nations.

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