Palestinians say FIFA proposals on Israeli settlements fall short
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Palestinians say FIFA proposals on Israeli settlements fall short

Football chief Jibril Rajoub renews calls for world body to exclude Israel over games played in West Bank, says offers to solve dispute are inadequate

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)
Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub on Monday renewed calls for FIFA to exclude Israel over games played in West Bank settlements, expressing disappointment at the world’s body’s recommendations.

At issue are six small-time Israeli soccer clubs which play in Israeli settlements, fueling a protracted dispute at FIFA.. Palestinians argue the presence of the clubs is in breach of FIFA statutes. They want football’s governing body to force Israel to change policy.

Palestinians have also long claimed that Israeli security restrictions limit movement of their players, visiting teams and football equipment. Israeli football officials have said that political decisions are beyond their control.

A FIFA commission chaired by South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale was created in 2015 to try to resolve the dispute.

In March, Sexwale presented his recommendations to Palestinians and Israelis in a session described as “stormy.”

Rajoub, who was present at the meeting, explained the potential solutions proposed by Sexwale during a press conference on Monday in Al-Ram, northeast of Jerusalem.

Rajoub said none of the three options offered by Sexwale met Palestinian expectations.

He said he would “prefer that we go right away to sanction and to suspension (of the Israeli football federation)” but declared himself “realistic.”

“I appreciate and I respect what (FIFA) did.”

The first recommendation proposes maintaining a status quo, which Rajoub said was in violation of international law.

The second stresses that FIFA statutes ban any federation from organizing matches on a territory that is not its own, without the agreement of the federation of the country concerned.

The third would be to seek a compromise, but efforts to do so have failed.

“We were flexible, we were realistic but the other side insisted to act according to a policy of an expansionist, racist government,” Rajoub said.

He has vowed in the past to take the matter to court if FIFA drags its feet or fails to stand up to the Jewish state.

In November FIFA president Gianni Infantino urged both camps to set aside politics and find a solution “for football.”

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