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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 by: REUTERS)
FIFA declines action against Israel despite Palestinian pressure
Led by Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub, there has been a push for FIFA to penalize Israel for soccer activity in the settlements.
FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, ruled on Friday that it would not sanction Israel over its athletic activities in the West Bank, the organization said in an official statement.

Led by Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub, there has been a push for FIFA to penalize Israel for soccer activity in the settlements. FIFA declined to take such a position.

"The FIFA Council takes note of the documents adopted by international governmental bodies concerning the relationship between Israel and Palestine – such as United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which comprises recommendations without sanctions – but has decided that it should not take any position on their contents," the statement read. "The FIFA Council acknowledges that the current situation is, for reasons that have nothing to do with football, characterized by an exceptional complexity and sensitivity and by certain de facto circumstances that can neither be ignored nor changed unilaterally by non-governmental organizations such as FIFA."

Passed in 2016, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 compelled Israel, "the occupying power," to abide by the Geneva convention, refrain from altering the demographic composition of territories acquired since 1967 and freeze all settlement activity, among other practices. It also called on the Palestinian Authority to confront and dismantle terror and confiscate illegal weapons. The resolution condemned all acts of violence against civilians as well as provocation and incitement.

The FIFA statement went on to say that it is important to remain neutral on political matters, and that the governing council felt that any interference in the issue of the West Bank "might aggravate the situation of football not only in the territories in question, but also in the greater region affected – which would not be in the best interests of the game."

Not leaving any room for debate, the statement closed with "The matter is declared closed and will not be the subject of any further discussion until the legal and/or de facto framework has changed."

In response, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated Friday "The decision of the FIFA Council is a great victory for our fight against the boycott. The attempt of the instigator of terrorism Jibril Rajoub to use sports as a political weapon against Israel has failed, and we will continue to work to thwart the boycott initiatives of the Palestinians and BDS organizations."

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