Jibril Rajoub (left), president of the Palestinian Football Association, Tokyo Sexwale (center), chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine and Israel Football Association president Ofer Eini shake hands following a news conference in Jericho in December 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The dispute between the Israeli and Palestinian football associations is set to reach its culmination at the FIFA Congress in Bahrain on May 11.
However, the participation of Israel’s representatives in the conference is still under doubt as the Shin Bet (The Israel Security Agency) has yet to approve their trip to the Persian Gulf.
The congress was initially supposed to take place in Kuala Lumpur, but was moved as Malaysia wouldn’t guarantee it would issue visas to Israeli delegates as well as display the Israeli flag during the congress.
FIFA’s Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine is still working towards reaching an agreement between the parties ahead of the congress.
Committee chairman Tokyo Sexwale presented a long awaited draft report in Zurich on Wednesday.
Sexwale delivered the draft report to the monitoring committee, which is made up of himself, a FIFA representative, and IFA and PFA representatives.
Wednesday’s meeting was stormy, with IFA chairman Ofer Eini being angered by Sexwale’s proposals.
The Palestinians are pushing FIFA to drop or order the relocation of six IFA teams, arguing that the organization’s by-laws prohibit teams from one country from playing on the territory of another.
The clubs are situated, they argue, on territory that will be within the borders of a future Palestinian state.
In contrast, Israel contends that the law is inapplicable as the Palestinians do not have permanent borders, and that such a decision would politicize FIFA. The clubs in question belong to Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Oranit and Tomer.
FIFA said in a statement that Sexwale’s monitoring committee presented a “draft final report containing specific recommendations” without providing any details, adding that the various parties will meet again before he submits his final report to the congress in May.
According to AFP, Sexwale presented three possible options – to retain the status quo “with the legal risks arising therefrom”; allow the Israeli association six months “to rectify the situation of the six clubs in question”; or to request new negotiations between the two sides.
The FIFA Monitoring Committee was set up by the 65th FIFA Congress in May 2015 following a compromise reached with the Palestinian Football Association, which was seeking to suspend Israel.