Palestinians reject Israeli soccer proposal, pushing ahead with suspension vote


(JTA) — The Palestinian Football Association rejected an Israeli proposal to address its grievances and will move forward with a motion to expel Israel from international soccer play.

The Palestinian group plans to introduce a motion to expel Israel from international competition at the May 29 yearly congress of FIFA, the body that governs international soccer.

According to the PFA, Israel unjustly restricts Palestinian players’ travel and is breaking international law by fielding five teams in West Bank settlements. Israel has cited security concerns as the basis for the movement restrictions.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter arrived in Israel on Tuesday, aiming to solve the dispute and prevent the motion from coming to the table. To pass, the motion requires the approval of three-quarters of FIFA’s 209 member states.

On Wednesday, Israel proposed giving Palestinian soccer players special identification cards, and said it would provide an escort for them between the West Bank and Gaza, according to Reuters. Israel would also place special officials at border checkpoints to help ease their crossing.

The Israeli proposal did not address the settlement teams. The Israel Football Association’s director of communications, Shlomi Barzel, told JTA that the teams will continue to play as long as Israel considers the settlements part of its territory.

But the PFA rejected the Israeli proposal and said it would introduce the motion at the FIFA Congress as planned.

“The Palestinian federation is acting in the interests of soccer, in the interests of FIFA statues and above all in the interests of the footballers of Palestine,” Rajoub said, according to Reuters.

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