Kiryat Arba soccer team.
(photo credit: DANNY MAARON)
Over 60 Members of the European Parliament on Saturday urged the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to halt Israeli settlement-based soccer teams from competing in the Israeli soccer league, according to Al Jazeera.
Addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the letter, signed by 66 MEPs, demanded the organization "rule that settlement clubs either fully relocate within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders or are excluded from the Israeli Football Association."
"We want to see football thrive in both Israel and Palestine," the letter states, adding "to that end, FIFA must not let football be an instrument of territorial expansion."
The letter claims that clubs based in Israeli-settlements violate FIFA Statues, citing regulations reading
"Members and their Clubs may not play on the territory of another Member without the latter’s approval."
Israeli settlements built in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law, while the Israeli government considers the land disputed territory.
FIFA is expected to make a decision concerning the soccer clubs in an upcoming council meeting on October 13, based on recommendations submitted by the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine, according to Al Jazeera.
This is not the first time FIFA has been lobbied to take action against teams based in Israeli settlements.
In late July, an international petition with almost 150,000 signatures has demanded that FIFA force the Israel Football Association to eliminate six of its clubs that are based in West Bank settlements.
The six settlements are Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Givat Ze’ev, Oranit, the Jordan Valley, the South Hebron Hills and Kiryat Arba.
The PA also led a failed drive at the 65th FIFA Congress in 2015 to suspend the teams in the Israeli soccer league.
A compromise was worked out, through which a monitoring committee was created to oversee issues affecting the development of soccer in the Palestinian territories. The committee is headed by South African government minister Tokyo Sexwale. Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this article.